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 Ted Harrison  (1926 - )

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Lived/Active: British Columbia/Yukon / Canada      Known for: Yukon scene painting, illustration, drawing, murals, stained glass, prints, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Ted Harrison MC, OBC, DFA, LL.D., D.Litt., B.Ed, RCA (1926)

A prominent Canadian painter, illustrator, author, draftsman, muralist, stained glass designer, printmaker and educator, Edward Hardy Harrison (AKA: Ted Harrison) was born in Wingate, County Durham, England. He immigrated to Carcross, Yukon, Canada in 1967; lived in Whitehorse, Yukon from 1970 to 1993; and has lived in Victoria, British Columbia since then. In Canada, Harrison’s popular paintings, prints and illustrations are iconic images of Yukon life, and his trademark style easily ranks as one of the most recognizable of any Canadian artist.

His mediums include acrylic, oil, gouache*, watercolor, serigraph*, posters, collage*, mixed mediums, fresco*, stained glass and illustrated books. His mature oeuvre includes works done in Realist* and Fauvist* styles of subjects from everywhere he’s travelled and lived; they include landscapes, genre, figures, social commentary and portraits. However, his most famous works are of the Yukon – its people, its towns, and its creatures done in a vibrant Fauvist* style. The images include figures, landscapes, street scenes, animals, sea life, icebergs, sporting activities, genre*, allegory*, mythology, fantasy and spirituality; AskART has some excellent illustrations of them.

Harrison’s formal art education includes studies at the West Hartlepool College of Art (about 8 miles southeast of Wingate in northeast England) which began in 1943, were interrupted by military service in 1945, and completed between 1948 and 1950 (Diploma in Design) under Harry Thubron. Harrison also obtained a teaching certificate from Durham University, Durham in 1951; and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Alberta, Edmonton in 1977, which he achieved by studying part time for nine years. He includes as important influences, his friends and fellow students, the artists Eric Atkinson and Norman Cornish. (1) (2)

Harrison’s teaching career has been primarily at the secondary and vocational level. He’s taught in England (1951 – 1957 and 1966 – 1967); Malaysia (1958 – 1962); New Zealand (1963 – 1965); Wabasca, Alberta (1967 – 1968); Carcross (1968 – 1970); and Whitehorse (1970 – 1981).

The public venues for his exhibitions include the Art Gallery of the Whitehorse Public Library, Yukon (1969 and 1984); Otani Memorial Museum of Art, Nishinomiya, Japan (1984); the Territorial Art Gallery, Whitehorse (1989); the HK Convention and Exhibition Centre, Hong Kong (1993); the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, B.C. (1996 and 2000); the Royal Alberta Provincial Museum, Edmonton (2009); and the Yukon Arts Centre, Whitehorse (2009). In 1978, Harrison was the first Canadian to be invited to exhibit at the Bologna Children's Book Fair - Illustrators Exhibition, Bologna, Italy. (3)

The commercial venues for his exhibitions include Robertson Galleries, Ottawa; Gallery of the Golden Key, Vancouver; Eaton’s Art Gallery, Toronto; Shayne Gallery, Montreal; Wallace Galleries, Calgary; Winchester Galleries, Victoria; Artique Ltd., Anchorage, Alaska; The Art Loft, Honolulu; and AAG Fine Arts Gallery, New York City.

His paintings and serigraphs are frequently traded on the Canadian auction market, they are in numerous private and corporate collections, and examples of them are in several Canadian museum collections.

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, there are Ted Harrison works in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), Art Gallery of Mississauga, (Ontario), McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario), Ottawa Art Gallery – Firestone Collection of Canadian Art* (Ontario), University of Lethbridge Art Gallery (Lethbridge, Alberta), and the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (Banff, Alberta). Two Harrison murals – “Vast Yukon” and “View of British Columbia” – are located at the University of Victoria and stained glass windows designed by him are in St. Margaret’s Church, Te Kauwhata, New Zealand and Christ Church Cathedral, Whitehorse.

The titles of the books he’s authored and illustrated include Northland Alphabet (1968), Children of the Yukon (1977), The Last Horizon: Painting & Stories of an Artist’s Life in the North (1980), A Northern Alphabet (1982), The Blue Raven (1989), O Canada (1992), and Maggie’s Magic Dream (2004). He’s also illustrated The Cremation of Sam McGee (1986), The Shooting of Dan McGrew (1988), and North America in Picture, Poetry & Piano (2005).

Harrison is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, in 1987 he received one of Canada’s highest honors the Order of Canada (CM) and in 2008 one of British Columbia’s highest honors the Order of British Columbia (OBC). He holds honorary doctorates from Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta (1991); the University of Victoria, Victoria B.C. (1998); the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta (2005); and Malispina University (now Vancouver Island University), Nanaimo, B.C. (2006). In 2002, he received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and the distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Alberta; and in 2005 he was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts*. He’s also been the subject of several television specials, the award winning film documentary “Harrison’s Yukon” (1979), and his lengthy biography has been in every edition of Canadian Who’s Who since 1990. He was also chosen to design the Yukon Pavilion facade for Vancouver’s Expo’ 86 (1986) and a Christmas stamp for Canada Post in 1996.

Footnotes:

1. From 1945 to 1948, Harrison served with the British Army In­telligence Corps in India, Egypt, Kenya, Uganda, and Somaliland, rising to the rank of sergeant. Source: Canadian Who’s Who – 2011.

2. Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography have their own pages in AskART.

3. ‘Established artists and emerging talents are selected [for the Illustrators Exhibition] by an authoritative international jury consisting of publishers, artists and museum directors.’ Source: Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Sources:

Canadian Who’s Who – 2011 (2011), edited by Lynn Browne and Gwen Peroni (see AskART book references)

Picturing Canada: A History of Canadian Children's Illustrated Books and Publishing (2010), by Gail Edwards and Judith Saltman (see AskART book references)

Ted Harrison: Painting Paradise (2009), by Katherine Gibson (see AskART book references)

Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

O Canada (1992), by Ted Harrison (see AskART book references)

Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

Canadian Who’s Who – 1990 (1990), edited by Kieran Simpson (see AskART book references)

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists (1974), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network*

Artists for Kids, North Vancouver, B.C.

Ted Harrison (website)

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (news story), Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Governor General of Canada – Order of Canada and Golden Jubilee Medal source.

Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia – Order of British Columbia source

The Canadian Encyclopedia (online)

Golden Sheaf Award (website) – source for “Harrison’s Yukon” award

University of Victoria Art Collections (website)

Christ Church Cathedral, Whitehorse (website)

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com. Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx.

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.


** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.
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