Georgian Bay, 1938 Barker Fairley
Georgian Bay, 1938
A facsimile sketchbook
Edited and Introduced by Gary Michael Dault
9 X 8 inches, 84 pages
35 pencil reproductions of his pencil sketches
'THESE DRAWINGS, which have never before been published, are all from 1938. In that year, Fairley returned to Canada from a three-year teaching sojourn in his native England, returned from the smoky industrial north of England anxious to revisit his beloved Georgian Bay and capture its boldness and roughhewn grandeur in colour.
"I was unsuccessful," Fairley has written. "The shift from grey-green Derbyshire to the sparkle of Georgian Bay was too much for me." So he drew instead. Raw, spare, bare-bones drawings radical in attack, inventive in treatment, more like Milton Avery or Marsden Hartley or Derain than the Group of Seven. "The conclusion I reached," says Fairley, "was that the less I interfered with the bare paper confronting me, the better, the truer to the Bay, the drawing would be."
Taken together, this suite of drawings may ultimately be seen as one of Fairley's most satisfying bodies of work.'
Barker Fairley lived to a great old age. He was born in 1887. In conversation with Gary Michael Dault, when Fairley was 97, he said, "... I was a poet for one year and not a poet for the other ninety-five." That year was 1922. Fairley was thirty five. So he was a poet, but also a world renowned scholar of German literature and a painter—a painter indeed whose clean unsentimental evocations of the southern Ontario countryside won him, late in life, a wide and respectful audience.