Collection Connection: Sybil Andrews and Glenbow


This October we are excited to mount the exhibition Sybil Andrews: Art & Life, a retrospective showcasing the fascinating life and remarkable career of this important English-Canadian printmaker. Recognized internationally as the major study centre for the life and work of Andrews, Glenbow is uniquely positioned to tell her story. When Andrews passed away in 1992, she bequeathed not only the majority of her finished artistic output, but also the entire contents of her studio as well as many personal effects. Click on the slideshow below to see just a few of these items, and enjoy a brief interview with Glenbow curatorial assistant and collections technician Travis Lutley in which he discusses the museum’s Sybil Andrews Research Collection.


How did Glenbow come to acquire the Sybil Andrews collection?
Travis Lutley: Glenbow acquired its Sybil Andrews research collection by and large through two donations. There are key materials that came in from other collectors and other sources, but the two main chunks came from the artist herself – one when she was alive and the other as a bequest after she passed away in 1992.

What was the relationship there? Why Glenbow?
In the 1980s there was a relationship built between [then Glenbow curator] Patricia Ainslie – and by default, Glenbow – and Sybil Andrews. Ainslie’s specific interest was in modernist printmaking, so it was through her that Glenbow built a relationship with Andrews and received those donations.

Could you tell us
about the breadth of collection?

We we have her entire output: finished prints, test prints, sketches, studies,
block tests most of her printing blocks, photographs, journals, manuscripts,
personal items that were related to the actual making of the objects – the
tools she used to make the prints. All of the material that defines what a
research collection is. It’s by far our most accessed and one of our richest
research collections. The public has a very strong attraction to Sybil’s art.

How does having the full research collection enhance our understanding of the artist and aid in putting together an exhibition like this?
The story we can tell is different in that you get to understand [Andrews’] process a bit more. You won’t just see finished prints – there’s an understanding of how long it took her to arrive at a finished design, how many tests she did to arrive at the colour combinations and intensities. When you just look at the finished print, none of that is there. We’re fortunate in that we get to see her tremendous work ethic, focus and dedication to good design.

Sybil Andrews: Art & Life opens at Glenbow on October 19, 2019.

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