Artwork by David Lloyd Blackwood,  The Burgeo Whale: A Whale for the Killing

David Blackwood
The Burgeo Whale: A Whale for the Killing

colour etching and aquatint
signed, titled, dated 1973 and inscribed “artist’s proof” in the lower margin
19.75 x 15.75 ins ( 50.2 x 40 cms ) ( plate )

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

Price Realized $8,850.00
Sale date: November 19th 2019

Private Collection, Ontario
In his etchings and paintings, David Blackwood mythologizes the unforgiving and timeless landscape of Newfoundland, where he spent his formative years. There is both power and emotional impact to Blackwood’s artworks, very often illustrating man at the mercy of the elements. “The Burgeo Whale” contrasts a giant whale below the surface of the water with a tiny boat of figures just above. This etching acted as the cover illustration for Farley Mowat’s 1972 book, “A Whale for the Killing”.

Mowat’s book takes place in the small fishing village of Burgeo on the southwest coast of Newfoundland in the 1960s, describing the true story of when an 80-ton fin whale became trapped in a lagoon nearby. Mowat describes the events that soon unfurled, involving local villagers blasting the whale with rifle fire and scarring its back with motorboat propellers. This spurred forth both Mowat’s plea for the end of commercial whale hunting and his struggle to appeal to the local authorities to use this opportunity as a chance to study the whale at close range and respect the creature and its environs. Blackwood has encapsulated the sadness and weight of Mowat’s recollections in “The Burgeo Whale”, through the sombre depiction of this immense mammal almost bursting in the confines of the composition, while pinpointing the smallness of man with the figures circling in the boat just above.

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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