Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Kathleen Morris

Maison Calvet, St. Paul Street
oil on canvas
51 x 61 cm
location unknown

Kathleen Moir Morris (1893-1986), born in Montreal, was a Canadian painter of landscapes and lively street scenes, often animated by the presence of humans and animals. Except for a short stint in Ottawa, she lived her entire life in Montreal and its environs, frequently depicting scenes of urban life in warm colours, with an eye for the humane, the charming and the joyful. Her work has been shown all over the world.

She met with considerable success during her lengthy career as an artist. She became a member of the Beaver Hall Group and exhibited frequently in Quebec and Ontario with the Royal Canadian Academy, the Montreal Spring Shows and the Ontario Society of Artists. The Beaver Hall Group officially dissolved in 1922, but she still participated in their exhibitions while living in Ottawa. She returned to the Montreal area in 1929 and lived there for the remainder of her life. She became a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts that same year.

She painted scenes of urban and preindustrial rural Quebec not in support of a French Canadian identity but to suggest that the "primitive" could provide a sanctuary from modern life. From the first, deeply textured, strokes of her early works, to the gentle swoops of colour and line in her later landscapes, she exhibited a unique style that set her apart from her contemporaries. She painted from sketches, in which she simplified the forms and applied colour in bold, thick patches. Her subject matter reflected her kinship with her surroundings and an appreciation of the simple life. She also felt deeply for the animal world, voicing her concerns publicly to protest the annual seal hunt. She was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy in 1929 and received honourable mention at the Second Willingdon Arts Competition.