Out of the Wood

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Porcupine's Quill, 2012 - Art - 215 pages
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The reach of Rosemary Kilbourn's art -- primarily wood engravings and works of stained glass -- spans the country, having found welcoming homes in galleries and churches from Victoria to Montreal. Her engravings on wood have inspired and influenced a generation of artists that include Gerard Brender a Brandis, Wesley W Bates and George A Walker, but Kilbourn herself lives in quiet seclusion in a nineteenth-century schoolhouse -- known as the Dingle School by locals -- in the midst of a protected forest area on the Niagara Escarpment, and she's lived there in the woods, a mile from her nearest neighbour, since she bought the property in the late 1950s.

Out of the Wood presents a chronological retrospective of Kilbourn's wood engravings, starting with samples of early work she completed in London in the 1950s and thence documenting the remarkable growth of her utterly unique style over the next five decades. Each print is accompanied by Kilbourn's own anecdotal commentary, offering insight into the art of wood engraving as well as reminisces about her life as an artist and as a resident of her beloved Dingle School in the Caledon Hills.

Kilbourn's engravings often depict local scenes of nature and countryside, and her affection for the rural life shines through in the sweep of her burins. The writing is fresh and humble, welcoming the reader into Kilbourn's world and offering a rare glimpse into the core mechanics of a wood engraver.

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About the author (2012)

Rosemary Kilbourn was born in Toronto in 1931. She graduated from the Ontario College of Art in 1953, at which time she received a medal for drawing and painting. Shortly after graduation she emigrated to London, England, where she worked and studied until 1956.

Over the years, Rosemary Kilbourn has been active as a teacher, a wood engraver and a stained-glass artist. As an engraver she has created illustrations for a number of books. Among these are "The Firebrand" by her brother William Kilbourn, published in 1956 by Clarke, Irwin. She also produced wood engravings for the 1958 edition of Farley Mowat's "The Desperate People" (Little, Brown), for William Kilbourn's History of the Steel Company of Canada entitled "The Elements Combined" (Clarke, Irwin, 1960) and for "The Shadow of the Year" (Aliquando,1976) by Florence Wyle. One of Kilbourn's most well-known engravings, based on an interpretation of The Fruits of the Earth by Frederick Philip Grove, was featured on a 17-cent Canadian memorial author's stamp in 1979.

Kilbourn's engravings first appeared in the Canadian Society of Graphic Art annual exhibitions in 1958, and then again in 1962, 1964 and 1967. They were included in a show called Prints and Drawings' at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa in 1966, and were exhibited there again in 1969 in a show entitled How Prints are Made'. Her engravings on religious themes were displayed at Regis College, Toronto between 1963 and 1966. Rosemary exhibited with the British Society of Relief Block Printers from 1973 to 1975, and participated in the Canadian Biennial of Prints and Drawings (1978). In addition, Kilbourn exhibited her wood engravings from 1959 to 1987 in various group and solo shows at McMaster University, at the Sisler Gallery (Toronto), the Lewis Library in Deep River, the Brampton Library and Art Gallery, the Alice Peck Gallery in Burlington and the Grimsby Art Gallery. She exhibited with the Society of Wood Engravers (England) from the late 1990s, and was awarded membership in the Society in 2001. Her engravings are found in major museums and galleries across the country. These include the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, the Waterloo Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, BC. Her engravings are also represented at McMaster University, the University of Guelph and the Universities of Regina and Calgary. Rosemary Kilbourn was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1977. She continues her long-term residence in The Dingle School, a nineteenth-century schoolhouse ensconced in a protected forest on the Niagara Escarpment north of Toronto.

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