Clifford Feard Robinson, 1917 - 1992
Cliff Robinson was a prolific artist tied to the creative development of the Calgary and the Alberta art scene. He was part of the early group of printmakers in the 1930s and 1940s who pioneered printmaking techniques in and around Calgary and embraced the modernist movement.
Born in Bassano, Alberta, in 1917, Robinson was the son of W. Robinson, who was an author, and grandson of Sir John B. Robinson, the first Chancellor of Trinity College in Toronto.
Robinson was a student at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Art in Calgary and the Banff School of Fine Arts. He studied alongside other promising artists such as Margaret Shelton, and G. Tailfeathers, and under some of the most influential teachers in Alberta at that time, Hentry Glyde, A.E. Leighton and W.J. Phillips. It was during this time that Phillips instilled and supported Robinson’s interest in printmaking.
Robinson never seemed to stay in one place for any length of time, and the 1940’s saw Robinson drift between Alberta, British Columbia and even the USA. He lived and painted among the Stoney Indian Band at Morley, Alberta where he was given the name Wah-Gah, the Grasshopper, worked alongside Jack Shadbolt and others at the Canadian School of Camoflage in Vancouver, and even served as the first Director of TV design for CBC Vancouver and Set Director for the First Vancouver International Festival. Eventually turned to teaching, becoming U.B.C.’s first traveling instructor in art and theatre design.
In 1950 and 1951, he travelled through out Europe, visiting Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.
However, he soon returned to the Banff School of Fine Art, as an instructor in art and theatre design, he became a close associate of A.Y. Jackson, when he taught at the Vancouver School of Fine Art, he met and befriended Lawren Harris and Emily Carr.
Robinson worked in oil and even batik (since 1970), however he is most known for his monotypes, woodcuts and linocuts. He was one of the few early Alberta printmakers who used people as focal subject matter, possibly influenced by Maxwell Bates, his expressionist style revealed the subjects suffering and in the case of his Doukhobor images, social statement.
Cliff Robinson eventually retired in Calgary. He died in 1992.
Society of Canadian Painters and Etchers,
The Society of Graphic Arts and
The Federation of Canadian Artists
Alberta Society of Artists.
The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
The National Gallery of New York
The National Gallery of Canada
The Alberta Art Foundation
The Feckless Collection