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April 26 until June 20, 2024

Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10am – 4pm

contact: info@cowichangallery.ca

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In his heyday, Clifford Webb was one of the foremost book illustrators in England.  His work is found in the British Museum, the Ashmolean Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. He was also famous for his art lithographs and fine woodcut engravings, which not only appeared in books but also in fine art shows. He painted wall murals and screens, and he was a popular teacher.  Yet he sank into obscurity despite his innovations in engraving.

Born an east London cockney in 1894, abandoned by his father and raised in poverty by an illiterate mother, Clifford used his good looks, ambition and artistic talent to escape his humble origins. 

In an interview, he recalled, “I can remember drawing on the stone floor in the kitchen with coloured chalks at the age of seven, emulating the pavement artists I so much admired. That I think was the beginning.”

At 16, he apprenticed in a lithography workshop, but when the First World War broke out in 1914, he went to war. After the trenches in France, battles in Gallipoli and siege warfare in Mesopotamia, he was sent to India to recover from multiple injuries, including being shot in the jaw.  He received awards for bravery and suffered from nightmares all his life.

In India, Webb took up art again, painting watercolours and oils, and after the war became an art teacher with ‘a twinkle in his eye’.  He married a wealthy upper-class girl, Ella Monckton.  To conceal his past, his mother was sent to relatives in Australia (at the wedding, she’d had to stand mute at the back of the room pretending to be Spanish to hide her cockney accent).

After his marriage, Clifford reinvented himself as country squire and artist, becoming famous… an awkward benefit of being a talented artist with a murky past.

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The Exhibition

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The Upside – CHEK news

CHEK News – The Upside  team, with presenters Ed Bains and Jeff King came to have a look at the Cowichan Public Art Gallery’s latest exhibition and share what they saw with Vancouver Island viewers of the April 24th evening newscasts.

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Patrick Stewart tours the Gallery

Philanthropist and generous CPAG donor Patrick Stewart receives a private tour of the Gallery.

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Video: Clifford Webb: BBC interview, 1970’s

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About the Cowichan Public Art Gallery (CPAG)

Founded in 2017, CPAG is working to build a world-class art gallery in the town of Duncan in the Cowichan Valley. Once completed, the Gallery will welcome exhibitions from British Columbia, Canada and the world — including engagement and educational events for the public. In the meantime, CPAG has an annual exhibition program enhancing and expanding arts and cultural opportunities for everyone. More than 400 individuals have signed our petition in favour of the project and it enjoys support from all levels of government. CPAG is a registered charity.