Phillips soon became friends with another expatriate Englishman, Cyril H. Barraud, who in 1915 imparted to Phillips a love for the technical craft of printmaking, and etching in particular. Upon Barraud's enlistment in the Canadian army, Philllips purchased his printing press and equipment. In 1917 Phillips began to teach himself colour woodcut printing in the manner of the Japanese artists and within 2 years he was catching the attention of the important British art magazine Studio. Throughout the '20s and '30s, Phillips was Canada's most famous printmaker, exhibiting throughout Britain, the United States and Canada, and joined many prestigious international printmakers societies.
Phillips influenced several generations of printmakers and almost single-handedly made the colour woodcut popular with artists across the country through the example of his work and the technical manual he wrote. In Winnipeg he not only taught many fine printmakers, he also became the city's chief art critic, writing a regular art column for the Winnipeg Herald. In 1926 he helped found the Manitoba Society of Artists.
In 1940 Phillips took up a teaching position at the Banff School of Art (see BANFF CENTRE FOR CONTINUING EDUCATION), where he continued to teach to 1959. In 1941 he moved to Calgary and for a time taught at the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art. The flowering of printmaking on the western prairies can be attributed to Phillips's presence at both these schools.
A prolific artist, Phillips produced over 200 prints, many watercolours with subjects ranging from landscapes, still lifes and portraiture. He also illustrated several books.
Author ROSEMARIE L. TOVELL
Roger H. Boulet, The Tranquility and the Turbulence: The Life and Work of Walter J. Phillips (1981); Michael J. Gribbon, Walter J. Phillips, A Selection of His Work (National Gallery of Canada, 1978); Maria Tippet and Douglas Cole, Phillips in Print, The Selected Writings of Walter J. Phillips on Canadian Nature and Art (1982).
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...