Alistair Macready Bell, 1913 - 1997
Alistair Macready Bell’s strong linear and graphic compositions of boats, birds and animals are instantly recognizable and establish him as one of Canada's finest print-making artists of the 20th century.
In 1929, Bell emigrated to Canada as a teenager from England. He enrolled in evening classes at the Vancouver School of Art in 1935, where he studied under B.C. Binning and had access to a printmaking press.
Bell started his working life as a draftsman at the Dominion Bridge steel company in Vancouver. However, in 1967 he made a commitment to being a full-time graphic artist. He specialized in graphic printmaking techniques such as woodcuts, wood engravings, drypoint, etchings, and lithographs.
Over his career, Bell produced over 900 drawings and watercolours, and over 100 prints and he earned a reputation of meticulously keeping track of his edition numbers, prints sold, and those yet to be printed. Many of these works featured exotic birds and animals which he sketched when he travelled to many of the world’s largest zoos.
Bell was a prolific artist and held solo exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1942, 1944, 1951 and 1989, (the first two shows he exhibited with his wife). When the Vancouver Art Gallery expanded in 1951, Bell had the honour of the first solo exhibition in the new space, showing a collection of his drawings.
Bell was represented by the Bau-Xi Gallery in Vancouver for many years, and produced at least twelve solo exhibitions between their galleries across Canada.
In 1971 the Burnaby Art Gallery held a retrospective of Bell's work dating from 1935 to 1970. The exhibition toured across Canada from 1971 to 1973.
In 1982 Bell donated almost 200 pieces dating from 1935 to 1981, to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and exhibited in Europe, Latin America, Canada and the US.
Bell died in Vancouver in 1997 at 84 years old.
Atelier Sketch Club
Canadian Society of Graphic Artists (Member 1947-70)
B.C. Society of Artists (Member 1949 President 1953-55)
Canadian Painters and Etchers (Member 1954)
Canadian Group of Painters (1959-61 President 1960-61)
Canada Council Senior Fellowship (1959)
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (ARCA 1965)
Printing and Drawing Council of Canada (1976)
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
National Gallery, Ottawa, ON
Burnaby Art Gallery, Burnaby, BC
Penticton Art Gallery, Penticton, BC
The Feckless Collection, Vancouver, BC