Artwork by Ted Harrison,  Yukon Priest

Ted Harrison
Yukon Priest

acrylic on canvas board
signed and dated 1973 lower right; signed, titled and dated on the reverse
22 x 28 ins ( 55.9 x 71.1 cms )

Auction Estimate: $12,000.00$9,000.00 - $12,000.00

Price Realized $19,200.00
Sale date: December 3rd 2020

The Fine Art Galleries, T. Eaton Co., Toronto
Private Collection, Toronto
Private Collection, Burlington, Ontario
Robert Budd, Introduction to “Ted Harrison Collected”, Madeira Park, British Columbia, 2015, pages 10-11
A rare nocturnal scene, “Yukon Priest” portrays all of the elements of the North which Ted Harrison was most fond. A lyrical landscape peppered with children, dogs and birds, the work has been executed in the artist’s signature technicolour palette of bright, flat colours which emphasize the joy and energy of the locale and its community. As Robert Budd remarked: “Ted clearly savoured his relationships with people, so it’s remarkable that the people in his art don’t have faces...In fact, Ted’s blank faces were intentional. He said that he used the same characters over and over again in the prints, and they came from his imagination.” Harrison explained, “I treat the people the same as the landscape. They’re natural because they’re in a landscape that they feel a part of...but I like to feel that people imagine a face in.” Viewers are encouraged to use their own experiences and relationships with others to place familiar faces in the works of the artist, making each work personal to the viewer.

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Ted Harrison
(1926 - 2015) Order of Canada

Harrison was born in Durham County, Northern England in 1926. Ted attributed his early interest in art and design to the encouragement from his parents, particularly his mother who had an interest in fashion design and photography. In 1943, he enrolled in the West Hartlepool College of Art and began to study art and design, but like other young men at the time, his education was interrupted by National Service. He served with the British Army Intelligence Corps in India, Egypt and East Africa and after his release studied at the West Hatlepool College of Art where he graduated with his National Diploma in Design in 1950. The following year he was awarded the Art Teachers’ Diploma at Kings’ College of the University of Durham. He later travelled to the Far East and taught school in Malaya and New Zealand.

In 1967 he moved to Canada in a stage of travel on his way to New Zealand with his wife and son. They stopped at Carcross, Yukon Territory and decided to settle there. He taught at the Indian residential school and in 1970 was appointed the principal of the Carcross Territorial School. In 1970 as well, he held his first major exhibition in Canada at the Robertson Galleries, Ottawa. In the summer of 1971 he moved to Whitehorse to establish the first fine arts course in the Yukon and teach at the Yukon Vocational and Technical Training Centre.

Robert Smyth viewing his 1976 show in Ottawa noted, “On first arrival in the Yukon he felt dominated by the mountains. Like Lawren Harris, he has been inspired to create bold stripes of rhythm from their vastness. Often, great expansive skies are filled with this same churning rhythm, made all the more pulsating by the dissonant colour harmonies. ‘Deserted Village’, a few skeletal buildings arranged in front of wildly patterned mountains cape whose turbulence continues to work its way up into the sky above, in full of this vibration. Here colour and rhythm work to good advantage, creating an animated and well-controlled surface. The cadence colour and line is also well-handled in ‘Ross River Fire,’ where spiral tongues of liquid flames spew out angrily from a burning frame house. One forlorn figure holding a battered teddy bear looks. On from the surrounding snow. Somehow, the sentiment is unforced and sincere.”

After 1979, Harrison began to work as an artist full time. In 1993, he moved to Victoria, British Columbia, where he lived the remainder of his life.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume II”, compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1979