Over the years, the Library has acquired a collection of high quality fine art that's sure to delight, intrigue and inspire. We introduce you here to our most prominent pieces and invite you to appreciate them more fully the next time you visit us in person.
"Mr. & Mrs. Plumtree," by Barbara Spring; Woodcarving. Location: Main Hall. First acquired in 1977, Mrs. Plumtree and her husband Carver Plumtree greet everyone at the Library door. Young children, in particular, make fast friends with these folksy wood sculptures, holding their hands, nattering away at them, and even taking a curious peek under Mrs. Plumtree's dress—which the American artist created from an old dress coated in resin and fibreglass. Both Plumtrees are part of the West Vancouver Public Art Inventory Collection.
These wooden sculptures have called the Library home since they were created at the Wood Sculpture of the Americas Symposium, held in West Vancouver, in 1977. The work of acclaimed American wood carver Barbara Spring (1917 – 2011), they have become important fixtures at the Library for newcomers and longstanding patrons alike.
In 2015 Mr. and Mrs. Plumtree were restored by Straight Line Designs. The West Vancouver Public Art Advisory committee approved funding for the restoration and facilitated the work to return these sculptures to a condition which allows for their continued presence at the Library. (Five degraded wooden bicycles that were also part of the 1977 Wood Sculpture of the Americas Symposium were also restored to near mint condition and are on display at the West Vancouver Community Centre.)
Barbara Spring was born in Essex, England in 1917. At the end of the Second World War, during which she served in the Women’s Royal Air Force, she emigrated to the U.S. as a war bride. She and her husband moved to Big Sur, California in the early 1970s where Barbara remained until her death in 2011. Barbara was a talented and widely respected wood carver whose work was exhibited extensively. Barbara Spring is considered one of the leading artists from the San Francisco Bay Region Art Movement during the 1960s and 70s.
"Harmony," by John Henry Dearle; Stained glass window. Location: Main Hall.
In 1931, Henry Stone, a founder of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and his wife Beatrice commissioned John Henry Dearle, master craftsman and chief designer for the London firm Morris & Co., to create this breathtaking reproduction of Sir Frank Dicksee's painting, "Harmony," as a memorial to their son, Lieut. Horace Gordon Stone, who died in active service in 1918. The Art Gallery displayed the window until the Second World War, when it was removed for safekeeping. After the war, the window was given to Lieut. Stone's sister, Mrs. Allan S. Gentles. When the West Vancouver Memorial Library was constructed in 1950 as a memorial to honour those who gave their lives during World War II, Mrs. Gentles presented the Library with the window, which has been a prominent feature of our building ever since.
"Diskobolos," by Myron (replica); Stone sculpture. Location: West Wing.
Those wandering into the West Wing for an art book or quiet place to study will pass a reproduction of Myron's "Diskabolos" ("Discus Thrower"), a famous Greek sculpture circa 450 BC known for its harmony and balance. Made of composite alabaster, this hand-finished piece was donated to the District of West Vancouver in 1973 by Nick Kogos.
"Spring—Just Around the Corner" and "The Old Rail Fence," by Franz Johnston; Paintings. Location: West Wing.
Johnston is one of the original Group of Seven. Donated to the Library in memory of Herbert and Thelma Jamieson, his atmospheric watercolours depict a truly Canadian landscape. You'll find them just around the corner from our coffee shop.
Please note that these works have been temporarily removed (May 2014).
"Point Atkinson Lighthouse," by D. M. Flather; Painting.
Location: Peter J. Peters Room.
The next time you relax with a magazine or newspaper in the Peters Reading Room, take a moment to enjoy the oil painting above the fireplace--arguably one Flather's finest works, painted in the late 1930s.
The Off-Site Collection
Among other drawings, paintings, sculptures, collages and tapestries, The West Vancouver Memorial Library's permanent art collection also includes two watercolours by Emily Carr—"The Chinese Gardener" and "Dead Man's Island"—currently held in the archives of the West Vancouver Museum.