Philip Hayes: Storied pictures of Manitoba’s past

Visual artist Philip Hayes has a passion for history that he dates back to his time reading The Beaver magazine as a child.

Written by Ryan Kessler and Phil Koch

Posted May 14, 2012

“History and art are intermingled for me in terms of my great passions in life,” Hayes said.

Over the past decade, Hayes has painted scenes related to the nineteenth century — the time when the Selkirk Settlers immigrated to Manitoba from Scotland. He recently donated one of his works to the Old Kildonan Presbyterian Church, built in 1853–4 for the Selkirk Settlers in what is now north Winnipeg, but also the location of Hayes’ 2008 wedding.

His recent show, Every Picture Tells a Story, presented some two dozen watercolour paintings and drawings, mostly of 20th-century scenes, as part of the Small Works Series at Winnipeg’s McNally Robinson Booksellers. He says the show and launch event gave him the chance to tell stories “directly related to Manitoba and settlement history.”

Hayes is interested in the connections between history and everyday life, such as the naming of Winnipeg’s streets. “Sutherland Avenue became a street when the city took a lot of settlement properties and named roadways after the families that occupied the land,” he noted. “In a really nice way, it takes us right from 1813 to something everybody driving down Main Street would recognize today.”

Hayes was the illustrator for the 2011 book Winnie the Bear, about the black bear named after the city of Winnipeg and brought to England in 1914, where it inspired the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. He works at Winnipeg’s Gallery Lacosse, which sells his paintings and his works in other media. The gallery will be showing new prairies scenes by Hayes this spring and summer.

The images shown here are from Hayes’ recent work, which includes watercolour paintings and drawings resembling woodcuts that were made with felt pens.

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