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Gryphon Gallery: Early Days of Art Instruction


As mentioned previously, Primrose Adamson was GNSs (NHS) first Art teacher from 1929-1945. Talented and self-trained, she encouraged and inspired students Rosemary James Cross, Lilian Ryan, Joan Willshire-Martell, and Myfanwy Spencer Pavelic to later become nationally recognised artists. 

On the Glenlyon side, Ina Uhtoff was the first. She worked with the school for five years (1933-38) making weekly visits. She trained in Glasgow both at art school and as a teacher and in 1926 arrived in Victoria. She provided private lessons, taught at public and private schools and set up a private studio as the Victoria School of Art. During the late 20’s she worked with Emily Carr and in 1934 exhibited her work at the Vancouver Art Gallery. While at the school, she set-up the boys’ Art Display to be seen at Prize Giving, a format that continued for many years. After her time with Glenlyon she established a small gallery called the Little Centre which was the precursor to the Art Gallery of Victoria, on whose Board she sat until 1960. Her work can be found in many galleries in and around the Lower Mainland.

William Menelaws joined the Glenlyon staff in 1938, staying until 1954. Also trained in Scotland, he moved to Victoria just before WWI. His work was exhibited in many galleries in the Pacific Northwest and even at the Canadian National Exhibition in 1930. He was a longtime member of the Victoria Sketch Club and so well respected in the art community that he was dubbed “The Dean of Victoria Artists”. For the most part, he also visited the school once-a-week.

At both schools – NHS and Glenlyon – a designated Art Room was not available until well into their school history. In 1961, when an extension was being made to the Old Gym at NHS to accommodate extra gym space, a stage, kitchenette and washroom, it became necessary to excavate deeper than expected. This provided for an extra room under the stage which became for several years Pemberton Woods’ first real Art Room.

At Glenlyon, although Art was a part of the curriculum from the start of the school in 1932, its first designated art room did not happen until much later. It was in the old Boat House, which had served as a gym and then storage room until 1970.  At that time, teachers David Auld, Eric Makovski and Colin Skinner spent part of their summer holidays putting up sheets of fiberboard, painting and fixing the stove to prepare the space for a ‘real’ art room at the Beach. Now the Art Room is a wonderful facility on the rejuvenated campus that enjoys a spectacular view of Oak Bay to provide a little creative inspiration.