Glenbow Museum - Sybil Andrews


Sybil Andrews: Art & Life

October 19, 2019 – January 12, 2020

Glenbow is pleased to present Sybil Andrews: Art & Life, a comprehensive survey of works by the visionary English-Canadian artist. Produced by Glenbow and curated by London, England-based Hana Leaper, a leading scholar on the subject of Andrews, the exhibition draws on material from Glenbow’s Sybil Andrews research collection. The extensive nature of this collection, gifted to the museum by the artist herself, has seen Glenbow become the major study centre worldwide in regards to Andrews’ life and practice. Thanks to the wealth of complementary material housed in the research collection –including test prints, sketches, tools and journals – the exhibition will provide unique insight into Andrews’ process. Of course, the core of Sybil Andrews: Art & Life is the artist’s exquisite linocut prints; featuring more than 100 works, the exhibition explores the breadth of her output through a number of key areas of interest to the artist. Andrews’ sought to express new visual ideas; her art embraced speed, dynamic motion and rhythm. In depicting windblown trees, industrial machinery or figures in feats of physical prowess, Andrews’ strong diagonals, swirling curves and bold colours were her signature visual tools.

Sybil Andrews saw visual poetry in what others may have considered commonplace and mundane; the colours, shapes and motions of everyday life presented her with an unlimited palette of artistic possibilities. Born in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk County in 1898, Andrews led a remarkable life. She studied art via a correspondence course in between shifts as a welder in an airplane factory during the First World War. During the Second World War she resumed welding, constructing warships for the British Admiralty. Between the wars, Andrews launched what would be a prolific, lifelong career in art, finding her voice in the linocut, a printmaking medium that demands directness and dynamism.

Informed by the motion of Futurism and the super-imposed plains of Cubism, Andrews’ striking images were characterized by her bold use of colour and line. By stripping out extraneous detail, Andrews was seeking to “eliminate non-essentials to learn that great lesson of balance.”

In 1947, Andrews and her husband, Walter Morgan, moved to Canada to escape the hardships facing post-war Europe. The couple settled in Campbell River, B.C. Andrews’ sharp eye delighted in details she encountered in this rough-hewn, new world, from the distinctly Canadian plaid patterns on her neighbours’ work clothes to the curves and angles that delineated the seemingly ubiquitous logging trucks transporting enormous loads of timber.

In the 1970s and ‘80s Andrews’ artwork was “rediscovered” by the art world and she became a local celebrity on Vancouver Island. She lived until 1992, working as an artist and teacher in Campbell River. Andrews’ original prints are much sought after by collectors around the world and are held in many significant museum collections.

Glenbow’s connection with Sybil Andrews began in the early 1980s, when the museum organized a major exhibition of her linocuts. Because of this interest in her work, Andrews ultimately gifted more than 500 of her artworks to Glenbow, as well as the contents of her studio, which included personal journals, sketchbooks and other objects. The exhibition runs until January 12, 2020.