SOURCE: University of Calgary

University of Calgary

September 18, 2015 10:00 ET

Wartime silkscreens -- supporting soldiers through art

Exhibition explores how artists enriched the lives of Canadian troops during the Second World War

CALGARY, AB--(Marketwired - September 18, 2015) - During the Second World War, vibrant silkscreens brightened the living quarters of Canadian soldiers, enriching their lives with images of Canadian landscapes. It was a unique way for Canada's best-known artists to show support for the troops. Now, nearly 100 of these pieces by A.J. Casson, Emily Carr, Lawren Harris, J.E.H. MacDonald, Charles Comfort and Tom Thomson, and almost 50 others have gone on display in the University of Calgary's Founders' Gallery at The Military Museums. The exhibition Barracks to Banks: Canadian Silkscreens for War and Peace opens today.

"We are proud partners of this important exhibition," says Elizabeth Cannon, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary. "As a community, we recognize the importance of art in public discourse and history. With these silkscreens, Canadian artists made an enduring statement which speaks to us as clearly today as seventy years ago."

Canadian artist A.Y. Jackson initiated the silkscreen project in 1942. While the art was initially intended for soldiers during a time of conflict, it became popular after the war for display in Canadian banks, schools, libraries and other public buildings.

"In the 1940s, many artists were experimenting with the new possibilities afforded to them by silkscreening, an innovative process at the time," explains Lindsey Sharman, University of Calgary curator of the Founders' Gallery. "We're delighted to make the work of Canada's best-known artists available to the public in an exhibition that is significant both from a military history and an art history perspective."

The majority of pieces featured in Barracks to Banks are on loan from the Pegasus Gallery of Canadian Art on Salt Spring Island, B.C. Owner Ian Sigvaldason collaborated with Sharman to make the pieces accessible to the broader community because of their historical value and contribution to Canadian national identity.

The exhibition includes the oil version of A. J. Casson's iconic silkscreen White Pine. The piece, on display for the first time in Alberta, is on loan from the McMichael Collection of Canadian Art in Ontario. Barracks to Banks also includes a piece by Douglas Coupland that was inspired by this Second World War initiative. The exhibition runs until January 2016.

The Founders' Gallery is operated by the University of Calgary's Libraries and Cultural Resources. Partnerships and generous support from members of the community enable educational programming related to military history and human conflict. The University of Calgary is growing a community of thinkers, leaders and drivers through exceptional student experiences, community connections and research outcomes that benefit society.

A media preview takes place this morning from 10:00 a.m. to noon in the Founders' Gallery at The Military Museums, 4520 Crowchild Trail SW. Available for interviews: Tom Hickerson, vice provost (Libraries and Cultural Resources), University of Calgary; Lindsey Sharman, curator, Founders' Gallery; Ian Sigvaldason, Pegasus Gallery of Canadian Art.

Please be aware of road construction at Crowchild Trail and Flanders Avenue and refer to the detour map.

About the University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is a leading Canadian university located in the nation's most enterprising city. The university has a clear strategic direction to become one of Canada's top five research universities by 2016, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.' For more information, visit Stay up to date with University of Calgary news headlines on Twitter @UCalgary. For details on faculties and how to reach experts go to our media centre at

Contact Information

  • Media Contact
    Jennifer Sowa
    Manager, Communications and Marketing
    Libraries and Cultural Resources, University of Calgary