Beams of colour will stream through the high stained glass windows infusing already-bright Ted Harrison works with light in the latest exhibition to honour the late, great artist.
Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria celebrates his life and work with a public show and sale starting April 7. Harrison, who died in Victoria in January, had a lifelong connection with the Anglican Church.
Malcom Read, one of the organizers of the event, had an idea spurred by a fellow church member’s friendship with Marion Carroll. He knew the Harrison family and Carroll family had long ties going back to their days living in Carcross, Yukon.
“It seemed to me there was not any opportunity to recognize his association with the Anglican Church,” Read said, noting that as a child, Harrison was a choir boy in Wingate in County Yarrow.
He became actively involved when he moved to Carcross, Yukon. Their cabin, on the edge of Crag Lake, is now an artists’ retreat in his name.
Over coffee, a group of the churchgoers hashed out a plan – the Christ Church Cathedral 150th Anniversary Celebrations Exhibition and Sale of Art by Ted Harrison. All sale proceeds will go to the cathedral’s newly established 150th anniversary fund, in support of its ongoing ministry to the city.
“It seemed an opportunity to celebrate his life in some way and his contributions to the Anglican Church,” said Read, adding the space is ideal for any art, but with its bright stained glass windows, is perfect for Harrison works.
The exhibition ties nicely into previous work the artist did for the Anglican church, says Carroll, who knew Harrison and his wife Nicky for 30 years. Carroll too, lived in the Yukon, moving there with her late husband, Desmond, in 1985 as he became dean of the church there.
Ted and Nicky offered to do the stained glass window for the Whitehorse cathedral, Carroll recalled. He designed the panes, but there wasn’t a budget to have the work done.
“Ted generously offered to do a painting of the original cathedral … they sold very quickly and raised the necessary funds in just a couple weeks,” Carroll said.
“That Old Log Church print can still be purchased on the Harrison website.”
In lieu of a signature, Ted, Nicky, their son Charles and their two dogs appear in a pane of the stained glass creation.
He was also heavily involved in the Anglican Church in Carcross, where the families lived.
“He was very involved in the organization there. In his own words, he said he pretty much ran the church there,” Carroll recalled. “Whenever Ted represents church in a landscape it’s always the Anglican Church in Carcross… it’s almost a signature. It’s a bit like the raven.”
Shortly after he moved to the Yukon, Harrison’s art underwent a sudden transformation to the brilliant, colourful style for which he became famous.
“That was where Ted threw away his rule book; he tried to apply the traditional rules and he found he couldn’t,” Carroll said.
After he moved to the Island, his Oak Bay studio was often visited by art lovers of all ages. Several of them are lending private copies of his work to the exhibit.
“He was very eclectic. In Victoria he was involved in the Unitarian Church too because his little dog Maggie could come to church with him,” Carroll said.
In honour of his father, Charles has donated 10 limited-edition prints of some of his most famous and beloved images, which are numbered, signed, dated and being framed by the same business the man himself used, Prestige on Oak Bay Avenue. The works will be sold by silent auction during the exhibition.
Alongside the prints for sale, publishers have donated books for sale including A Brush Full of Colour: The World of Ted Harrison by Margriet Ruurs and Katherine Gibson, as well as Ted Harrison Collected, with forward by Victoria author Robert Budd, that launches April 4.
The exhibition and sale runs weekdays April 7 to 24, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Visit christchurchcathedral.bc.ca for details.