NL Gazette

David Blackwood, an iconic Newfoundland artist, passes away at 80

Nfld and Labrador

Key takeaways: 

  • The iconic artist was known for provocative blue-black etchings of outport life.
  • David Blackwood was one of Newfoundland’s most significant artists and a legendary print-maker. 
  • He is inside his Port Hope, Ont. studio – where he has worked since graduating from the Ontario College of Art and Design.

World-renowned artist, professor, and Newfoundlander David Blackwood has passed away.

Blackwood died Saturday at his house in Port Hope, Ontario, surrounded by family after a long disease.

His work showed working life in outport Newfoundland as extensive and dark, with mysterious deepness beneath every surface.

Blackwood’s demise arrives not even a month after the loss of another legendary artist from Newfoundland and Labrador, Christopher Pratt.

Legend for Newfoundland

Born in 1941 in Wesleyville, Blackwood was raised around people working on the sea who would persist in rousing his work throughout his life. 

A creative prodigy from a young age, Blackwood was awarded a Government of Newfoundland Centennial scholarship to teach at the Ontario College of Art. By age 23, his work was being shown in the National Gallery.

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World-renowned artist, professor, and Newfoundlander David Blackwood has passed away

Blackwood is best understood for his blue-black etchings and prints, which usually depict scenes from outport life, mummers, icebergs, whales, and men at sea, all composed of contrasting dark shadows and bright white light. 

“David Blackwood made a mythology for Newfoundland,” states Emma Butler, gallery owner, and friend of the Blackwoods.

The Emma Butler Gallery was unlocked in 1987, featuring David Blackwood’s work.

“People learn about those wonderful stories of the shipwrecks and sealing catastrophes, stories of mummering and pictures of splitting tables and flakes and all these items.”

“People know about Newfoundland through the photos of David Blackwood,” she stated.

Some of his most recognizable pieces are the series of prints made in the 1960s and 1970s, The Lost Party, describing the 1914 Newfoundland sealing disaster with brutal scenes of sealers in boats and a dark, decadent world around them. 

Source – CBC News

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