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Walter Phillips was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1884. Trained at the Birmingham School of Art, he was a successful watercolour artist in England before he and his wife, Gladys, emigrated to Winnipeg in 1913. In 1940, Phillips was asked to be artist in residence at the Banff School of Fine Arts. He moved to Calgary in 1941 where he taught at the provincial Institute of Technology and Art.
Although watercolour remained his primary medium, the wood block print was an enduring interest which brought his work to a wider audience. Among his best-known and loved images in watercolour and woodblock print are those which depict family holidays on Lake of the Woods from the teens until 1925.
Walter J. Phillips died in 1963, leaving a legacy of uniquely Canadian art. He is recognized today as a master of the watercolor and the woodblock print medium and his work is eagerly collected. His works are housed in galleries across Canada, including The National Gallery of Canada, The Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies as well as collections abroad in London, Washington D.C., New Jersey, Japan, and private collections internationally.
The most extensive collection of work by Phillips, The Crabb Collection, comprising nearly 850 pieces, is housed in the Pavilion Gallery Museum in Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park. This collection is available for public viewing year round.
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