In September 1935, Henry George Glyde and his wife Hilda and
daughter Helen arrived in Calgary. Glyde had been invited by the
painter A.C. Leighton to join the faculty at the Provincial
Institute of Technology. Glyde and his family had arranged a one
year leave of absence from his position in England at the High
Wycombe School of Art, intending to stay only one year.
In what turned out to be thirty years of teaching and more than
sixty years of painting, H.G. Glyde was the most important
individual in the development of art teaching in Alberta. Within a
year of his arrival in Calgary, he was head of the art department
(at what would eventually become the Alberta College of Art and
Design). He was also head of the division of the Banff School of
Fine Arts (1936-66).
In 1937 he taught community art classes with the Department of
Extension at the University of Alberta, traveling to to
Vegreville, Vermilion, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Peace River.
Each community would establish a painting group, compelling Glyde
to travel and teach, revelling in his exposure to the Alberta
landscape. In 1946, Glyde founded the Division of Fine Art at the
U of A and taught there between 1946 and 1966.
The subjects of Glyde's most interesting and significant works are
the oils and murals that document urban and rural prairie life, a
style known as social realism. Glyde was painting at a time
of dynamic change in Alberta. The largely agricultural province
was becoming more mobile and urbanized in the aftermath of World
War II and the discovery of oil at Leduc in 1948. Several of
Glyde's paintings reflect this transition. His murals, such as Alberta
History (situated in Rutherford Hall at the University of
Alberta), have sombre colours and figures that are mythological
and symbolic in mood and content, reflecting Glyde's ability in
Grain elevators were common figures in works such as The Exodus
and Aftermath. Glyde called them "Cathedrals of the
Prairies" and likened them to the church spires of England
that marked towns and villages from a distance. Glyde admired the
simple and functional architecture of these structures, giving a
point of defintion to Alberta's small towns and hamlets.
Glyde was born in Luton, England in 1906. He studied art, contrary
to his family's wishes, at schools such as the Royal College of
Art in London. While his art developed in accord with artistic
concepts of the 1920s in England, Glyde was committed to birthing
a truly Albertan and Canadian style, based on the people and
landscape of the region.
In 1982, he was awarded an honourary Doctorate of Law by the
University of Alberta in recognizing his dedication and
contribution to the visual arts in Alberta. A major retrospective
exhibition was produced by the Glenbow Museum in 1987. Henry
George Glyde died in Victoria on March 31st, 1998.
Source: Ainslie, Patricia. A Lifelong Journey: The Art and
Teaching of H.G. Glyde. Glenbow Museum, Calgary, 1987
This digital collection was
produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital
Collections initiative, Industry Canada.