A treasure of Canadian art was recently acquired by UBC Okanagan’s campus for inclusion in their Public Art Collection. The Tree of Life by renowned Canadian artist Jack Shadbolt (1909-1998) was donated as a gift to the campus from UBC alumnus Dr. Luigi Rossi of Smithers, BC and his family.
Originally born in England, Shadbolt immigrated to Canada in 1912 and grew up in Victoria, BC. From 1938 to 1966, he first studied then taught at the Vancouver School of Art. Shadbolt’s teaching career was briefly put on hold while he served as an official War artist in the Canadian Army during World War II. His work is widely represented in North American private and public collections, including major murals for the Vancouver International Airport, the Edmonton International Airport, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, the former CBC building, and the MacMillan Bloedel building in Vancouver. Shadbolt received the Order of Canada (1972) and the Order of British Columbia (1990) in recognition of his contribution to Canadian art.
The Tree of Life, originally commissioned by the Cineplex Odeon’s Granville Cinemas in 1987, is a massive abstract wooden relief construction inspired by the theme of nature, growth, and reproduction. Shadbolt once described the piece as “art paraphrasing nature.” The campus’ newest addition now graces the atrium wall of the Reichwald Health Sciences Centre, home of the Southern Medical Program.
“We are truly honoured to display this beautiful work of art on our campus—it is a lasting legacy of Mr. Shadbolt and his many contributions to Canadian art, education and history during his lifetime,” says Professor Deborah Buszard, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Principal.
“We are highly appreciative of Dr. Rossi and his family’s contribution to our campus,” says Dr. Allan Jones, Regional Associate Dean, Interior. “The Tree of Life has become a showpiece for us all to enjoy and feel inspired.”
The Tree of Life was installed in the Reichwald Health Sciences Centre over three days in June 2013. A special thanks is owed to Stewart Turcotte, owner of Hambleton Galleries and Susan Belton, curator of the Public Art Collection for their work on the project.