George Sawchuk an Artist With Humour in the ForestSunday, October 02, 2016
Reading Facebook I found a citation by my friend Grant Simmons who lives in Gibsons. BC that Fanny Bay artist George Sawchuk had died some time ago.
George Sawchuk January 22, 1927 - February 2, 2012
It is patently obvious that my extensive files that begin in Vancouver in 1975 are really on their way of being dead files. It reminds me of a very un-English student by the name of Strand who in my photography class at Vanarts (the only place where I have been fired in my whole life) said in the presence of all the other students, “Alex can you show us pictures from magazines that still exist?” My answer (I had to think of it first) was, “Most of the people that I have photographed for those magazines are dead.”
I know that the article in Western Living Magazine (it still exists) on George Sawchuck happened in the early 90s and that I traveled to Fanny Bay, BC to photograph the man and his works. Of the man I only remember a quiet voice and an almost poker face. His humour (and he was full of it) was an extension of his art.
The Vancouver Sun Obituary:
January 22, 1927 - February 2, 2012
- Illegitimis non carborundum -
Treasure of the Comox Valley, friend of the working person and gifted artist, George Sawchuk, passed away at his Fanny Bay home on February 2, 2012. George was born in Kenora, Ontario in 1927 to immigrant parents. George attended both Catholic School and the Bolshevik Hall and these experiences would become the central pre-occupations of his artwork.
George left school and Kenora early in life, heading west on boxcars and working in logging, fishing and construction. His leg was crushed in a bridge-building accident and after 10 years of excruciating medical procedures was finally "bucked off". This finally gave George the time to explore his interest in making things and he began to carve nooks in trees where he placed what would become his trademark: wooden books filled with colourful quotations.
In 1970, George had his first art show at the UBC Gallery. In 1976, George and his second wife, Pat Helps, bought land in Fanny Bay. Together they cleared the land, built a home and set up a huge vegetable garden. He also began work on his forest gallery, which served as a magnet for thousands of visitors. George was always available to any who cared to wander up to the house, or visit him and Ms. Helps in their backyard. George's greatest gift was his friendship.
George is survived by his beloved wife, Pat, sister Amila, daughters Susan (Steve) and Debbie, sons Nicolas (Carol) and Calvin, grandchildren Niki, George, Ryan, Michael, Chad, Courtney, Erik and Makayla, great grandchild Colten, many nieces and nephews and in-laws, as well as countless friends.