October 2022 – March 2023
Lyric Theatre: 227 Central Ave N, Swift Current, SK S9H 0L3
There is something about the land, and the way of life rooted in the land, that has an indelible effect on a person. Farming and ranching in Western Canada is not a business or an occupation. It is a way of life, its roots are as deep, and passing the land from generation to generation a sacred responsibility.
The work and journey of William Philpott reflect many of these qualities. Philpott’s work possesses a bold and unreserved willingness to weave complex and challenging subject matter into a consistent narrative about land, family, and community. Philpot frequently references the experiences of his father and other similar figures and speaks of a way of life passed from generation to generation.
“Over the last forty years, I have documented the life that I am immersed in. The son of a seasoned livestock producer, I am an avid enthusiast of the “way of life” as was handed down to me by my dad…the pure joy of being out on the land in the wind and the sky, the crops and the shortgrass blowing. The scent of Juniper and Purple Sage blossoms deep in your nostrils…[moving] deeply into your heart. There’s no life like it!”
There are certain threads common to the execution of the art itself shared by Philpott and other place-bound artists. They share the presence of a consistent penchant for bringing the singular together to articulate larger narratives and ideas, frequently binding a number of paintings to a common set of memories.
“I feel like an outsider looking in, I’m not a farmer, I’m an artist. I always had respect [for this way of life] but never felt I was a part of it….today I consider it a blessing from God….”
Artists who grow up with this deep terrestrial connection…identify deeply with the land and the people but never quite feel accepted or that they belong. They often feel on the periphery, outside looking in. The paradox is that their art is often an embodiment of the people and life they inhabit, a porthole through which we can see, understand and appreciate a way of life. They portray it with passion, commitment and honesty.
Philpott’s early exposure to galleries and exceptional western Canadian and American art and artists was mingled with traits of his father’s natural penchant for art. When infused with what Wallace Stegner called “being conditioned by climate and geography” it created an alchemy that eventually fermented and matured, resulting in the unique western artist and storyteller/ chronicler we see in Philpott today. …if there is a “western speech, a western character, a western culture” without a doubt it has shaped Philpott. And in its own quiet way, Philpott’s art, born of the west, has contributed to it. …In this exhibition, we celebrate 40 years of work by William Philpott and the contribution he has made to [the] art, culture, and history of the province of Saskatchewan.
– Excerpted from Dean Bauche’s essay: Born Of The West: The Art Of William Philpot