Western Canadian Artist
GWEN LAMONT 1909-1978
Gwen Lamont who was born in Fort MacLeod, Alberta in 1909, received her formal art education at the Ontario College of Art under the guidance of ARTHUR LISMER of the famous Canadian Group of Seven. She was one of the most outstanding Canadain female artists of her time. She was a prolific artist and exhibited in almost every art gallery in Canada. After becoming an associate of the Ontario College, Gwen moved back to Alberta in 1929 to paint and work in her beloved ranch country. She studied theatre design at the Banff Summer School and later taught art classes in Banff.
In 1935 she married a Peace River pioneer rancher named John Lamont. She became a mother to twins, Gwendy and Eain, and continued to paint, sketch and to further develop her interests in the theatre arts. Gwen and John first moved to Victoria where Gwen became acquainted with Emily Carr. Gwen and Emily Carr would discuss and share their passion of the West Coast landscape and indigenous people.
Gwen and her family moved to the Okanagan in the late 1940's and for over 30 years she acted as a driving force in Kelowna's art community. She was the first curator of the Kelowna Art Gallery and was a set, mask and costume designer for province wide theatre. She designed and made costumes and theatre masks for productions such as A Midsummer Night's Dream in Vancouver and for many productions at the Kelowna Community Theatre. She was well known for creating the sets for the Kelowna Regatta and for the Lady of the Lake pageant during the 1950's.
Although her work was wide ranging, one of her particular endeavors was to tell the story of the Tl'azt'en First Nations people who lived along the north shore of Stuart Lake in the northern interior of British Columbia. Gwen was an avid researcher and she spent from 1972 to 1975 studying, painting and drawing in the remote Stuart Lake area where her daughter Gwendy was teaching in the Tache settlement. She was passionate about telling the the First Nations people's true story. She became intimate with families in the village and would spend hours making detailed sketches depicting the daily lifestyle and First Nations traditions at that time. She was gifted at accurately capturing the essence of Tl'azt'en community life in remote northern British Columbia. The Tl'ast'en community members respected Gwen's kindness and authenticity.
Community members and friends described Gwen as being "one of those people who had a smile for all and never a cross work to say about anybody". Her close and dear friend Bob Kingsmill affectionately said that "Gwen chose her major life work with care; made decisions concerning it with thought; and played out her role with the needs of others always in mind". When Gwen was sadly diagnosed with cancer, potter Bob Kingsmill assisted her in compiling a book of pen and pencil sketches done 1932-1935 in Northern Ontario and Southwestern Alberta. Her book of sketches was published in 1978 and Gwen sadly passed away Dec. 30th 1978.
Kelowna, British Columbia