Artwork by David Lloyd Blackwood,  Gram Glover’s Dream

David Blackwood
Gram Glover’s Dream

colour etching and aquatint
signed, titled, dated 1969 and inscribed “Artist’s Proof” in the lower margin
34 x 22.25 ins ( 86.4 x 56.5 cms ) ( sheet )

Auction Estimate: $7,000.00$5,000.00 - $7,000.00

Price Realized $4,720.00
Sale date: May 28th 2019

Provenance:
Private Collection, Newfoundland
Literature:
William Gough, David Blackwood: Master Printmaker, Toronto, 2001, page 59
A prophetic and surreal image, Blackwood's “Gram Glover's Dream” harnesses the artist's signature drama and complex emotion of the people of Bragg's Island, forced to leave their homes and livelihoods on the eve of confederation with Canada.

A remote settlement, Bragg's Island was inhabited by less than 200 people, sustained by the fishing industry. A notoriously inhospitable and harsh region of Newfoundland, the remote island was only accessible by crossing the rough waters. Bureaucrats and politicians had argued that the isolated and harsh locale was too difficult to send basic health and education services to, which spearheaded the discussion and eventual referendum on resettlement. A sad and defeating moment in Newfoundland's history, the story of Bragg's Island was among similar histories of 250 other coastal villages of Newfoundland, forced to resettle between 1950 and the early 1970s.

In this work, the tattered wall paper, broken window panes and ice trailing in at the window sill act as relics of a once loved and inhabited home, forced to be left behind by its owners. Blackwood had recounted the story of Gram Glover's prophetic dream when he was a young boy:

“Gram Glover had a dream. I can remember her coming down to the kitchen that morning. 'Well, well, well,' she said. ‘I had a funny dream last night, that we all had to pack up and leave this place. That we had to pack up and everything was torn to pieces, like there was another war coming. The whole place was in a shambles. There must be another war coming!”

Blackwood's own grandfather locked himself in his shed when the time came for resettlement, refusing to leave. The family home where marriages, births and celebrations were had, was forced to be left behind and demolished, a story not unfamiliar to nearly all of the inhabitants of Bragg's Island.

Through the window we see the hunched figures walking in single file away from their homes, a dramatic and solemn visual of the end of a community and shared experience.


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David Lloyd Blackwood
(1941 - 2022) OSA, RCA, Order of Canada

Born in Wesleyville, Bonavista Bay, Newfoundland, on of the major sealing towns of that province, he is a descendant of a long line of master mariners. Blackwood was awarded a Government of Newfoundland Centennial scholarship to study at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto under Carl Schaefer, John Alfsen, H.W.G. MacDonald and Frederick Hagan. He went on to become Art Master at Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario. In 1969, Blackwood became the first artist-in-residence at Erindale College, University of Toronto, Mississauga.

David Blackwood uses his background on the East coast of Canada to create grande visual narratives reflecting both the landscape and culture of the province with an emphasis on combining the history, legends, and myths of settlement and developing culture of Newfoundland. He is best-known for his colour etchings with aquatint. His work was used to provide illustrations for Farley Mowat’s “Wake of the Great Sealers”, a collection of stories about the heroic Newfoundlanders who braved the icy seas of the treacherous North Atlantic in search of seals. Driven by hard times at home it was the only hope many of the men had of making money to feed their families. Men perished when their ships went down during wintry gales. Blackwood, a native of a sealing town himself, and a descendent of fishing skippers and sealing captains, provides Mowat’s stirring text with equally stirring and poetic figurative drawings and prints.

Blackwood was awarded the Order of Canada in 1993 in recognition of his work contributing to and preserving the cultural life and heritage of Canada through his artwork. At the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Blackwood Research Centre within the Morin Gelber Print and Drawing Centre was created after a major acquisition of the artists works in 2000. The museum also elected Blackwood as its honourary Chairman in 2003, the first practicing artist to hold this position. In the same year, he was awarded the Order of Ontario.

As one of Canada's most celebrated print-makers, David Blackwood's works are part of significant Canadian and international private and corporate collections including The Royal Collection, Windsor Castle, the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada. Blackwood currently lives in Port Hope while maintaining a studio in Wesleyville, Newfoundland.

Sources: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume I: A-F", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1977