DAVID BLACKWOOD

AVAILABLE ARTWORKS

1941

Born in Wesleyville, Newfoundland.

1959

Graduated from Wesleyville Memorial High School

Awarded Government of Newfoundland Centennial Scholarship

1963

Ontario College of Art Honours Diploma (Drawing & Painting)

Awarded OCA travelling scholarship to study major collections in the U.S.A.

Awarded Government of France (Ingres) Medal

1963-88

Appointed Art Master at Trinity College School, Port Hope, Ontario

1964

Purchase Award Biennial Exhibition, National Gallery of Canada

1969-75

Appointed first Artist-in-Residence, Erindale College, University of Toronto

1971

Founded Erindale College Art Gallery, University of Toronto, Mississauga

1973

Co-authored with Farley Mowat ‘Wake of the Great Sealers’, published by McClelland & Stewart

1974

Subject of National Film Board of Canada production ‘Blackwood’, recipient of 10 international film awards including The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (Oscar) nomination in1976 for Best documentary

1988

Co-authored with William Gough ‘The Art of David Blackwood’, published by McGraw Hill Ryerson

1992

Official opening of The Blackwood Gallery, Erindale College, University of Toronto at Mississauga, named in honour of the artist.

Awarded Honorary Degree, Doctor of Laws, University of Calgary

Awarded Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters, Memorial University

1993

Awarded ‘Heritage Award’, Canadian Parks Service, Government of Canada

Awarded the Order of Canada in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the artistic and cultural life of Canada

Establishment of a Blackwood Research Centre by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Marvin Gelber Print and Drawing Centre, in conjunction with a major donation of the artist’s prints. The AGO becomes the gallery of record for the artist.

Co-authored with William Gough, with an appreciation by Annie Proulx, ‘David Blackwood, Master Printmaker’.

‘A Time at the Hall’, world premiere by the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Choir of two original musical compositions based on works by the artist.

Named to the Board of Directors of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Awarded the Order of Ontario in recognition of his outstanding contribution tothe cultural life of the Province.

Appointed  Honourary Chairman of the Art Gallery of Ontario; the first time this post has been awarded to a practicing artist.

Awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal

2011 

Black Ice: David Blackwood Prints of Newfoundland, text by Katharine Lochnan & others, Douglas & McIntyre & The Art Gallery of Ontario.

Black Ice: David Blackwood’s Prints of Newfoundland, organised by and exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and travelling to The Rooms, St. John’s, Newfoundland in 2012 and to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, in 2013.

2012 

The Rooms, St. John’s, NL, presents Back in the Day: David Blackwood’s Newfoundland & Labrador.

Elected to the College of Fellows of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

2013

Awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Awarded the Order of the Owl by Artists for Kids Trust, Vancouver, British Columbia.

2013

‘Revelation’, Abbozzo Gallery, Toronto, ON

‘Black Ice’, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria, BC, circulated by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON

‘Works on Paper, Etchings, Mixed Media and Watercolours’, Winchester Galleries, Victoria, BC

2012

‘Blackwood’, Emma Butler Gallery, St. John’s, NL

‘Black Ice’, The Rooms, St. John’s, NL, circulated by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON

‘Back in the Day: David Blackwood’s Newfoundland and Labrador’, The Rooms, St. John’s, NL, co-curated by the artist

2011

‘Black Ice’, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON

‘New Watercolours’, Winchester Galleries, Victoria, BC

2010

‘Illumination: Ephraim Kelloway’s Door’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, ON

2009

Recent Watercolours’ (Interiors and Landscapes), Winchester Gallery, Victoria, British Columbia

2008

A Form of Meditation’, New Watercolours, Emma Butler Gallery, St. John’s, Newfoundland

2007

‘New Etchings and Related Works’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, ON

‘Recent Watercolours’, (Interiors and Landscapes), Winchester Gallery, (Oak Bay), Victoria, BC

2006

‘Near and Far’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario

2005

‘Flowers for Siromani’, Emma Butler Gallery, St. John’s,         Newfoundland

‘The Seabird Hunters’, Michael Gibson Gallery, London, Ontario

‘Outport Relics and Related Works’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario

Down on the Labrador’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario

Winchester Gallery, Victoria, British Colombia

David Blackwood: The Mummer’s Veil’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario

Drawings to Etchings’, Michael Gibson Gallery, London, ON

Explorations & Discoveries: The International Code’, Dec. 7, 2002 – Jan. 4,

2003

Michael Gibson Gallery, London, Ontario

Fire Down on the Labrador: the Creative Process’, Art Gallery of Ontario

‘Bragg’s Island Revisited’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario

2001

‘The International Code’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario

2000

Visits and Discoveries’ Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario

Important Early Etchings’ Gallery One, Toronto, Ontario

The David Blackwood Exhibition’ The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes, Kingston, Ontario

David Blackwood: Signal Flags’ Edward Day Gallery, Kingston, Ontario

1999

MONOTYPES 1990-1999’ THE EMMA BUTLER GALLERY, ST. JOHN’S, NEWFOUNDLAND

A Survey of Prints 1990-1999’ Gallery One, Toronto, Ontario

DAVID BLACKWOOD SURVEY EXHIBITION 1980-1990’, ORGANIZED BY THE BLACKWOOD

Gallery, University of Toronto at Mississauga and circulated to: The Montréal

Museum of Fine Arts; The Library and Gallery, Cambridge, Ontario; The Varley

Art Gallery, Unionville, Ontario; The Art Gallery of Lambton, Sarnia

1998

Recent Oil Tempera Paintings & Related Works on Paper’; The West End Gallery,

Edmonton, Alberta and Victoria, B.C.

Oil Tempera Paintings’, Heffel Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.

David Blackwood Survey Exhibition 1980-1990’, circulated to: The Stewart Hall Art Gallery, Pointe, P.Q.; The National Exhibition Centre & Museum, Timmins, Ontario; the Maclaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario

1997

Oil Tempera Paintings’, The Emma Butler Gallery, St. John’s, Newfoundland

David Blackwood Survey Exhibition 1980-1990’, circulated to: Moose Jaw Art

Museum & National Exhibition Centre; Swift Current National Exhibition Centre; The Art Gallery of Peterborough; The Canadian Embassy, Tokyo, Japan

1996

Outport Relics:Recent Oil Tempera Paintings & Related Works on Paper’, Gallery One, Toronto, Ontario

Blackwood in Calgary: A Broader View’, Selections from Private Collections, Nickel Arts Museum, Calgary

David Blackwood Survey Exhibition 1980-1990’, circulated to the Kelowna, Art Museum, Kelowna, B.C.; The Nickel Arts Museum, University of Calgary, Alberta; Prairie Art Gallery, Grande Prairie, Alberta; Kamloops Art Gallery, B.C.; Langley Centennial Museum, Fort Langley, B.C.; Medicine Hat Museum & Art Gallery, Medicine Hat, Alberta

1995

Fishing Tales: The Art of David Blackwood’, West End Gallery, Edmonton

Gadus Morhua: Recent Oil Tempera Paintings’, Gallery One, Toronto, Ont., November 16 – December 11.

Paintings & Related Works on Paper’, Heffel Gallery, Vancouver, B.C., September 10 – October 1.

Icons’, Emma Butler Gallery, St. John’s Newfoundland, September 16.

David Blackwood Survey Exhibition 1980-1990’,circulated to:Thunder Bay Art Gallery; Grimsby Public Art Gallery; Rodman Hall Arts Centre, St. Catharines;

Lynwood Arts Centre, Simcoe; The Gallery, Stratford

1994

David Blackwood – Oil Tempera Paintings’, West End Gallery, Edmonton, Alta.

David Blackwood Survey Exhibition 1980-1990’, circulated to: The Beaverbrook  Art Gallery, Charlottetown; Sir Wilfred Grenfell Art Gallery, Cornerbrook, Nfld;

The Station Gallery, Whitby, Ont; The Art Gallery of Northumberland, Cobourg;

Laurentian University & Art Centre, Sudbury

1993

New Prints and Related Drawings’, Gallery One, Toronto, Ontario

David Blackwood Survey Exhibition 1980-1990’, circulated to:  L’Universite de Moncton Galerie d’Art, Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery; Memorial University Art Gallery, St. John’s, Nfld.

1991

New Monotypes’ Gallery One, Toronto, Ont. November 9 – December 5  Heffel Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.

1990

The Emma Butler Gallery, St. John’s, Nfld.

Ephraim Kelloway’s Door  Paintings 1985-1990’, Gallery One, Toronto, Ontario

Heffel Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.

West End Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta.

1989

Heffel Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.

West End Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta.

1988

David Blackwood  Monotypes’, Gallery One, Toronto, Ontario

1987

Monotypes’, The Emma Butler Gallery, St. John’s, Nfld.

The Madison Gallery, (Monotypes), Toronto, Ontario

West End Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta.

David Blackwood Prints1962-1984’, Travelling exhibition organized by the Art Gallery, Memorial University of Newfoundland & The Art Gallery of Algoma, Sault St. Marie,Ontario, circulated to: The Edmonton Art Gallery , The Koffler Centre, Toronto

1986

The Spurrell Gallery, St. John’s, Nfld.

The Madison Gallery (watercolours), Toronto, Ontario

David Blackwood Prints 1962-1984’, circulated to Memorial University Art Gallery, St. John’s; Zuider Zee Museum, Amsterdam; Canada Cultural Centre, Paris; Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, UK

1985

Madison Gallery, Toronto, Ontario

Masters Gallery, Calgary, Alberta.

Gallery Guilia, Rome

David Blackwood Prints1962-1984; circulated to Confederation Art Gallery, Charlottetown, P.E.I., Canada House, London, UK, Sir Wilfred Grenfell Art Gallery, Cornerbrook, Nfld; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax

Cape Freels Art Council, Wesleyville, Nfld.

David Blackwood Prints 1962-1984’, Art Gallery of Algoma, Sault Ste. Marie

1983

‘Prints: A Retrospective 1965-1983’, Gallery Quan, Toronto

Labrador City Arts Council, Labrador City, Labrador

1982

Gallery Pascal, Toronto, Ontario

Robertson Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario

1981

Gallery Pascal, Toronto, Ontario

West End Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta

1981

David Blackwood: Prints’, Survey exhibition of 30 prints organized and circulated by The Art Gallery of Ontario – to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, B.C.; Burnaby Art Gallery, B.C.; Canadian Consulate Art Gallery, Boston, MA

1980

David Blackwood: Prints’, The University of Maine at Orono, Maine

1979

Gallery Graphics, Ottawa, Ontario

Gallery Royale, Vancouver, B.C.

West End Gallery, Edmonton

1978

Gallery Pascal, Toronto,Ontario

David Blackwood: Prints’, circulated to Whitby Art Gallery, Ontario; Memorial University Art Gallery, St. John’s, Nfld.

1977

Gallery 1640, Montréal, P.Q.

David Blackwood: Prints’, circulated to the Art Centre, Laurentian University, Sudbury; Art Gallery of Peterborough

1976

Gallery Pascal, Toronto, Ontario

1975

Gallery Pascal, Toronto, Ontario

Gallery 1640, Montréal, P.Q.

1974

Fleet Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

David Blackwood: Prints’, New Brunswick Museum, St. John, New Brunswick

1973

Gallery Pascal, Toronto, Ontario

Wells Gallery, Ottawa

David Blackwood Prints’, circulated to York University, Toronto; Scarborough College and Erindale College, University of Toronto, Mississauga

1972

Gallery Pascal, Toronto, Ontario

Gallery 1640, Montréal, P.Q.

Damkjar Burton Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario

Fleet Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Warwick Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.

David Blackwood: Prints’, McKenzie Art Gallery, Trent University, Peterborough

1971

Gallery Pascal, Toronto, Ontario

Damkjar Burton Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario

Wells Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario

Confederation Art Gallery, Charlottetown, P.E.I.

MacIntosh Art Gallery, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario

1970

New Brunswick Museum, St. John, New Brunswick

University of New Brunswick Art Gallery, Fredericton, New Brunswick

St. Mary’s University Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia

1969

Gallery Pascal, Toronto, Ontario

Wells Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario

Mount Allison University Art Gallery, Sackville, New Brunswick

Erindale College, University of Toronto, Mississauga, Ontario

1968

University of Alberta Art Gallery, Calgary, Alberta

Art Gallery, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.

1967

Trinity College School, Port Hope, Ontario

Memorial University Art Gallery, St. John’s, Newfoundland

McMaster University Art Gallery, Hamilton, Ontario

1965

Brantford Art Gallery, Brantford, Ontario 

 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2009                ‘Flowers that Last’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, ON

2007                ‘The Architecture Show’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, ON

‘Flowers that Last’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, ON

2005                ‘A Sense of Place’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, ON

Toronto International Art Fair, Toronto, ON

Go Figure’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, ON

10th Anniversary Exhibition’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, ON

Water’, Abbozzo Gallery, Oakville, Ontario

1982                ‘Canadian Contemporary Prints’, Bronx Museum, NewYork City, N.Y.

1981                ‘People’, University of New Brunswick Art Centre, Fredericton, N.B.

1978                ‘The Expressionist Image’, Mount St. Vincent University, Halifax, N.S.

1976                ‘Atlantic Graphics’, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Charlottetown, P.E.I.

1975                ‘50th Annual Society of Canadian Painters in Watercolour’, Art Gallery of Ontario,

1974                ‘Homage to Kathleen Fenwick’, Gallery Pascal, Toronto, Ontario

1973                ‘Biennial International De L’estampe’, Paris, France

Aspects of Canadian Graphics’, Canadian National Exhibition, Toronto,Ontario

1971                ‘International Graphics ‘71’, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Montréal, P.Q.

First International Biennial Prints’,

1970                Royal Canadian Academy of Arts Annual Exhibition

1969                ‘Canadian Graphics ‘69’, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario

Three Canadian Printmakers: Blackwood, Frenkel, Pachter’, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Montréal, P.Q.

1968                Ninth Annual Calgary Graphics

1967                ‘Canadian Watercolour Painting’, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario

The Centennial Exhibition for Australia and New Zealand’, National Gallery of

Canada, Ottawa, Ontario

Atlantic Pavilion, Expo ’67, Montréal, P.Q.

Exhibition of Canadian Art: Works from the National Gallery of Canada’, Expo ’67

1966                ‘Biennial of Canadian Prints’, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario

1965                Annual Exhibition, Royal Canadian Academy of Arts

Three Canadian Printmakers: Blackwood, Frankel, Pachter’, Sarnia Art Gallery

1964                ‘Biennial of Canadian Prints’, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario 

 

SELECTED COLLECTIONS 

Aequanimitas Inc., Calgary

American Anaconda Brass | London Regional Art Gallery

Art Gallery of Algoma

MacDonald Stewart Collection

Art Gallery of Newfoundland & Labrador

McGill University

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

McMaster University Art Gallery

Art Gallery of Ontario

Memorial University Art Gallery

Art Gallery of Peterborough

Montréal Museum of Fine Arts

Bank of Canada

National Gallery of Canada

Bank of Montréal | National Gallery of Australia

Bank of Nova Scotia

National Capital Commission: Canadiana Fund

Beaverbrook Art Gallery

New Brunswick Museum

Benson & Hedges | Northumberland Art Gallery

Blackwood Gallery, University of Toronto

Norcen Energy Resources

Brantford Art Gallery

Ontario Ministry of Education

Burnaby Art Gallery

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education

Canadian High Commission, London

Oregon State University, The Cornvallis Collection

Canada Council Collection

Petro Canada

Canada Trust

Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey

Canadian Pacific

Queen’s University, The Agnes Etherington Gallery

Chase Manhattan Bank

Rothmans

Citicorp – First National Bank

Royal Bank of Canada

Confederation Art Gallery

Shell Canada

Dupont Canada

Simon Fraser University, Vancouver

Edmonton Art Gallery

SNC Lavalin

Ernst & Young

Spelling Productions

Fidelity Investments

St. Mary’s University, Halifax

Finex Capital Corporation

Teleglobe Canada

Government f Canada – External Affairs

Templeton Management

Government of Newfoundland & Labrador

The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery, Newfoundland

Government of Ontario

The Uffizi, Florence, Italy

Gulf Oil

Toronto-Dominion Bank

Hamilton Art Gallery

Turner Broadcasting

Hart House, University of Toronto

Trent University

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II (Windsor Castle)

University of Alberta

Horizon Holidays | University of British Columbia: Belkin Gallery

Humber College

University of Calgary: Nickel Museum

Imperial Oil

University of Toronto

Kaiser Resources

University of Maine

Jonathan’s of Oakville

University of Saskatchewan

Le Banque National du Canada

University of Windsor

Labatt’s Limited

University of Western Ontario: MacIntosh Gallery

Lambton Art Gallery

Vancouver Art Gallery

Laurentian University

William Mercer Ltd.

York-Finch Hospital

Winnipeg Art Gallery

THE GLOBE AND MAIL

It was a collection of booklets from the Metropolitan Museum in New York given to him as a boy that led David Blackwood, one of Canada’s most celebrated printmakers and painters, to snitch bed sheets from his mother’s clothesline behind his house in Wesleyville, Nfld.

They hung there, snapping in the brisk sea air, irresistible really, so big and white and square. In those booklets, he had read about the advantages of stretching cotton or linen over frames for painting. He took a bed sheet, cut it, and made it into canvases for his first paintings. But he told no one. He was one of 10 children. The family eked out a living from the sea. There was no money for anything beyond the essentials. “Oh, that God-damned goat,” spat his father, a grumpy man with a wizened face, thinking that the neighbour’s goat was eating the sheets. David would wait a week, a month, whatever time seemed reasonable, before snitching another, and allowing the bleating goat to take the blame again.

I am casting lines of questions on a crisp November Sunday in Port Hope, Ont., in a graceful three-storey brick house, hoping to lure a few of these, David Blackwood’s childhood memories, to the surface.

He has schools of them.

Born nearly 60 years ago in 1941, he left the island in 1959 when he received a scholarship to attend the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. He has lived in the white-bread bourgeois world of Ontario ever since, as artist-in-residence at the University of Toronto’s Erindale College in Mississauga, and then, since the seventies, in Port Hope, in this meticulously decorated and ordered house, surrounded by a wide clipped garden with a tall cedar hedge. During the latter half of the sixties, he had come to know the Port Hope community when he was teaching drawing part-time at Trinity College School.

But the childhood years he spent on the barren, flat, tundra-like Bonavista North area of Newfoundland exist just below the present, just under his white-picket-fence life, as fresh as yesterday. He admits a daily preoccupation with them. The Wesleyville of his youth has informed his work for four decades.

What’s surprising is that Blackwood does not come to mind as quickly as other Atlantic Canadian artists, Alex Colville, Christopher Pratt and Mary Pratt, even though, as one critic recently put it, “Blackwood is not just a Canadian artist; he is extraordinarily Canadian.” Perhaps now that will change. This September, Blackwood and his wife, Anita, donated 242 works, including final prints and proofs of well-known images, letters and other research materials to the Art Gallery of Ontario, which will become the “collection of record” for Blackwood’s work and a centre for the study of his prints. The AGO has long had an interest in Blackwood’s work and asked him if he would donate the materials.

In his etchings and paintings, Blackwood mythologizes the landscape he grew up in. It is unforgiving and timeless, one that, paradoxically, forces both a struggle to survive and an acknowledgment of one’s insignificance. One of his famous images, Fire Down on the Labrador (1980), shows a cross section of the ocean and contrasts a giant whale, swimming below an iceberg, with a tiny ship burning on the surface.

His imagination may be storm-tossed, but he is calm and shy. Wesleyville was founded by Methodists, and there’s still a hard-working, almost sombre, ethic about Blackwood. Short and stocky, he is seated squarely in a wooden chair, dressed in formally casual clothes, grey flannel pants, a black shirt, his feet, clad in perfectly polished Oxfords, firmly planted on a Persian carpet, his hands, pudgy and white, like balls of kneaded dough, resting in his lap. Recollections of his childhood, once you get him talking, tend to change his professorial manner to that of a boy, still in awe of the people he knew and the stories he heard. A smile pulls at the corners of his mouth, exposing a gap between his two front teeth.

“It was Gothic,” he sighs when asked about his family. Even the name, Blackwood, sounds dark, mystical. Everyone in Wesleyville knew them. They had known his grandfather, Captain A. L. Blackwood, and they knew his father, also a seafaring captain, who, in the summers, sailed a tall schooner, Flora S. Nickerson, across the ice fields to fish for cod off the coast of Labrador. They knew his mother, Molly Glover Blackwood, who was her husband’s second wife, the first having died during the birth of her fifth child. (David Blackwood was the first child of the second marriage that would also produce five children.) But they didn’t like her. She came from 17 miles away, from Bragg’s Island. They didn’t like outsiders. The mother-in-law, a formidable matriarch, didn’t think much of Molly either. She taught the children from the first marriage to ignore their stepmother. Molly, who was only 18 when she married, grew distraught.

Once, when they had returned from a family excursion, she picked up a broomstick and climbed to the top of the stairs in the house. She then walked down, smashing each window as she passed, one by one, letting the wind whistle through her prison. Not long after, she had a serious nervous breakdown and was captured by a group of men, put in a straitjacket, for fear of hurting herself or someone else, and carted off to an asylum in St. John’s. David was five, six maybe. She returned a year later, but was never the same again.

There is a lot of mystery about Blackwood himself. He is not loquacious. A question has to dangle for a moment, and the answer, or the story you sense is there, has to be reeled in slowly.

Blackwood often does series of works about one object. Through the seventies and eighties, he completed 75 paintings and etchings of a door on a shed he discovered in the Wesleyville area.

And what does he hope people will get from his work? “I have no expectations,” he begins. Pause. A little gap-toothed smile. “Sometimes, it can be quite bizarre,” he continues in a non sequitur. What can? “Why people collect,” he says. Any examples? He looks up. “Well, there was a gentleman in Labrador City.” Suddenly, Blackwood lifts his arms as though aiming a rifle. “Don’t you come near!” he says mimicking the collector. The man guards his collection with a gun? “Keeps them under his bed,” Blackwood explains. Is he crazy or something? “A school teacher,” he says calmly. The man once accosted Blackwood and his wife in the St. John’s airport. He used to call their Port Hope house late at night to talk to Blackwood. Has he heard from him recently? Blackwood shakes his head. “Maybe he has gotten rid of the collection.” He had a different one previous to owning Blackwood prints. And what was that? “A gun collection,” Blackwood says with a wan, mischievous smile.

Perhaps he prefers to keep his stories swimming about in his mind because they feed his work. Even the anecdote about the crazy collector affirms Blackwood’s sense that life is mysterious, and a little bit weird. Plus, he sees his work as “a visual extension of ballads, of telling a story.” So like a writer who doesn’t want to share his material, Blackwood cherishes his memories, guards them even, in order to pour them into his work.

Later, in his studio, which is situated in a separate building at the foot of the garden, Blackwood reveals the edges of a few more memories. It is his place of work, after all. There are photographs of family members — craggy, noble faces — and scenes from Wesleyville pinned to the wall, and on the second floor, shelves of books and personal artifacts, a museum-quality Eskimo doll, a model of a schooner, Inuit sculpture, and those early works of his, portraits of village folk, painted on the stretched bed sheets. He has so many memories, he tells me. He hasn’t touched some of the deeper, darker stories. “I remember as a little boy being lifted up to look at my great-grandmother, dead, in a coffin,” he says, standing for a moment on his tiptoes with his hands clasped at chin level as though he were still that boy. “She had whiskers and wore a little cap,” he says in a hushed voice. Memories about his mother, who still lives in Wesleyville, also have been largely unexplored. “Oh yes,” he says with a sigh and a far off look in his eyes. “I feel I’ve only scratched the surface of Newfoundland.”

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