Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - December 12, 1970, Lethbridge, Alberta
Saturday, Doombar 12, 1970 THE LETHBRIDOE HERALD S Builders of the south Margaret Lucklmrst An artist has a lifetime avocation T WOULD imagine there is Club was formed. We began a poor market for art with 10 or 15 members, meeting in Miss McKenzic's home once these Philip J. Collins observed recently, "partly be- cause of the absurdities artists are creating. Picasso's wheel- barrow full of junk isn't beauti- ful to look at, but people will buy anything he paints simply for the prestige of owning a Pi- casso. I sometimes think when great artists do this interpreta- tive stuff that they are per- haps spoofing the public, and tho raihlio is solemnly taken hi." P.' J. Collins, as he is known to several generations of Leth- hridgeites, doubt less knows what he is talking about for he has an appreciation and a knowledge of art quite beyond that of the average art buff. "I grew up in a family where art, in its various forms, was simply taken as a matter of course. My father was an artist and a member of the Royal So- ciety of British Artists. This was an honorarium bestowed on promising artists to encourage their continuing interest and self improvement. There were nine boys and one girl in the family, and each of us in some minor way or another inherited my father's talent." Jlr. Collins was born in Dor- king, Surrey in 1884. He receiv- ed his formal schooling there, which included a number of courses in art. "Mine was the good old Vic- torian drilling in free hand, light and shade, geometries and so on. We were never allowed to sit down with a box of paints, vritb no inhibitions whatsoever, and develop what small spark we had. I received certificates in all these courses which I suppose were of no value in themselves, but the disciplines have lasted me all my life." The easiest wav tn learn any- thing, Mr. Collins pointed out, is to try to teach it to someone else. "I had a thorough train- ing in perspect he said. "My older brother was highly skilled in this and spent many patient hours teaching me. It was invaluable, for when I be- gan to teach art here in Can- ada I needed all the background I could get to do the job the way I wanted to." In England, Mr. Collins took his normal school training and taught for several years. "But I was he recalled, "and my brother Harry and I were persuaded Canada would offer great advantages." The two young mrn arrived in Lethbridge in 19_i. "I was 27 years Mr. Collins said, "and do you know, I think that's a bit old to emigrate. Or it was in those days, perhaps I should say. Lethbridge at that time was bustling with prairie en- thusiasm and a kind of frontier ruggedness. I don't know as I found it hard to fit in; but it certainly was "The town revolved around the railway and the he recalled, "and as I was late to get a teaching post, I just nat- urally gravitated to the CPE which took me on." Jobs to fit his qualifications were not exactly numerous but he had an ace up lu's sleeve. "Before I left England I'd taught myself to type and take shorthand. When I showed up at the CPR office here, they had a new typewriter nobody could work so I got the job. However, war came along and after a couple of years I was laid off. Times were pretty hard around here I can tell you. I was out of work for a time, but finally got a school out in the country. This was the pattern new teachers had to be content with rural posts before working their way up to larger schools in the towns and cities." For 13 years Mr. Collins taught at Central School. "In those days art and music were considered 'extras.' I had my own regular classroom in which I taught art, but I was not re- garded as the art teacher, per se. Other teachers in the school taught art to their own pupils, although I usually taught the principal's class and perhaps one other." People with the ability to ex- press themselves through draw- ings and daubing around with paints are fortunate Mr. Collins contends. "There is a latent ab- ility to draw in all of us I think." he said, "but there is a shyness or an inhibition about allowing it to develop. The youngster who can sit down by the cou- lees and amuse himself by put- ting what he sees down on pa- per, ho matter how crudely, is able to ease some of his frustra- tions simply by enjoying what lie is doing and, for the time, letting the cares of the world pass him by. I am not a psych- ologist, but I rather think there is good therapy in this sort of expression." In 193G, Mr. Collins met an- oilier Lethbridge artist at the Banff School of Art and be- tween the two, they decided it was high time the city encour- aged tyro artists. "That was the way the Sketch1 a week. We were not a large group. She was the first presi- dent and I acted as secretary- treasurer. We held these posts for three years, then switched. I suspect this formal organiza- tion was needed for lo- cal painters because it was quite successful." Mr. Collins married the for- mer Nellie Darling and the cou- ple had three sons, one of whom was killed during an air-raid over Holland during the Second World War. Another son suffer- ed an injury in the war and is an amputee. "A teacher is sort of a jack- Mr. Collins point- ed out. "Although my hobby was painting, I have been a mem- ber of St. Augustine's choir since I ciime to Lethbridge. For years, ir, connection with the St. John Ambulance, I taught first aid to juniors, after school. I'm not sure whether the school board ever knew I was doing this, probably not. Nevertheless I believe it was good for the kids, and over the years we is- sued more than 200 certificates. Children like and need this sort of instruction and oddly enough we had few failures. When, children are really interested in what they are doing they make a concerted effort to pass." Mr. Collins is a Mason, past master of Lethbridge Lodge Number 39. "This is an inter- est which also runs in my fam- he said, "at one event in England three Collins brothers were all past masters of their lodges, which is rather unusual considering our rather advanced ages." After Central School, Mr. Col- lins went to Westminster School where he taught until he re- tired 21 years ago. "I've taught quite a number of Lethbridge he grinned, "al- though many of them aren't youngsters any more. I'm not too sure whether I ever incul- cated any of them with a sense and appreciation of art. This is one of the shadowy parts of a teacher's life; we never really know if or when we've ever been able to help develop some- one's true potential, particular- ly in the so called artistic fields." For years Mr. Collins has cre- ated his own Christmas cards which are, for the most part, landscapes. "I did a pen and ink drawing of the altar of St. Augustine's one year and this was reproduced by the ACW for their notepaper. But usually my cards are. local scenes of the coulees and other prairie beauty spots." In appreciation for his contri- bution to the development of art in Lethbridge, the art gallery in the Bowman Arts Centre has been named the Collins Art Gal- lery. "I appreciate the motive behind this generous Mr. Collins said, "but too much publicity makes me uneasy; after all, I was merely helping people do what I liked to do myself. If I could ever encour- age anyone to take up a pen- cil and draw, I felt I was giv- ing them a new way of life." At 86 Mr. Collins still enjoys painting but admits he doesn't want to get into new methods. "I prefer using water colors, although I have used oils many tunes. They have new techni- ques now, new paints which are brighter and livelier, but I think at my age I'd be better to stick to what I know." What does he think about paint by number sets and this pre-designed form? "A lot of people get good re- sults from these and it gives them a great feeling of satis- faction and pride. It's a form of expression and I can't think there is anything wrong with that. Often too, it acts as a start for the timid souls who want to draw but don't know how to begin. Basically, anyone who has a sincere desire to paint won't need this form to help him on his way." Today, Mr. Collins lives at Green Acres Lodge. His two sons are in Calgary, bis wife dead. "I'm more fortunate than some old folk for I have a hobby I can putter away he ob- served. "I have watched the progress of the university from my window. I have a pair of binoculars, and while I can't see tiie site too clearly, I can make out its growth. Perhaps I just like looking out at the cou- lees, for they have been the sub- ject of many of my pictures." What changes have taken place in the teaching of art and its place in today's curriculum? (her restrictive unless one has basic courses such as I had years ago in perspective and so on. Yes, I think perhaps more freedom allows more sense of achievement; encouraging stu- dents to get away from copy- ing as soon as possible and de- velop a self style is much better although I have to say that I do get annoyed at some of the modern expression. I'm old fashioned enough to be- lieve that a picture should not have to be explained to the viewer, that it should tell its own story. Drawing, painting, creating scenes is an inherent tiling in human nature. Cave- men did it, Egyptians did it, Indians and Eskimos continue to do it, and one can read what PHILIP JEROME COLLINS -Photo by Walter Kerber The Blair Fraser memorial "Wilderness Canada" edit- ed by Borden Spears (Clarke, Irwiu and Company Ltd., 174 pages, BLAIR Fraser, one of Can- ada's great journalists, was drowned in 1968 when his canoe was swamped in a northern riv- er. A stone cairn was erected in his memory but his friends wanted a commemorative in- strument with which to pass on to other Canadians his special passion for the wilderness. This magnificent book is that instru- ment. It is a large book containing eight essays winch take up 70 pages; and 89 color photographs several of which spread over two pages. Abundant white space around both text and pic- tures provides an atmosphere of unhurriedness appropriate to the subject: nature untrammel- led by man. The essayists are: Pierre El- liott Trudeau, whose brief piece written in 1944 deals with ca- noeing; Fred Bodsworthy, who sur v e y s Canada's geography and relates how man lias threat- ened it; Eric W. Morse, who sketchily tells of four canoe trips he has taken; George Woodcock, who undertakes to show the wilderness through the art and literature of Cana- Exploring the north "Arctic Break through: Franklin's Expeditions 1819- 1847" by Paul Nanton (Clarke, Invin and Company Ltd., 262 pages, r1 ATTAIN John Franklin made three expeditions to the Arctic. He barely survived the first one and lost lu's life on the last one. His explorations added a great store of informa- tion to what was known of the Arctic. Those who sought to un- ravel the mystery of lu's disap- pearance added even more to that store. Canadian writer Paul Nanton tells the story of the three ex- peditions, making use of the re- ports by Franklin himself of the first two. The account of the starvation of the men on the first trip is told so well that it is almojt unbearable. No other part of the book is so absorbing but all of tlie book is interest- ing. Not many people are apt to search out and read Franklin's journals covering the two ex- peditions since they run to 836 large pages plus 425 pages of appendices. In this time of re- newed interest in the Arctic a debt of gratitude is owed to Paul Nanton for making avail- able, in a book of modest length, the account of Franklin's expe- ditions. tions examined by experts in the appendices. Considering the cost of books today and the lack of substance to many of them, this one is truly a bargain at the price asked. DOUG WALKER. dians; John A. Livingston, who writes of the need for wilder- ness preservation; Blair Fra- ser, whose essay appeared in Maclean's Magazine in 1934 and describes a canoe trip over the route followed by La Verendrye from Grand Portage to Fort Frances; R. Yorke Edwards, who describes what can be seen and heard on a canoe trip in the north; Bruce West, who writes about wilderness charac- ters. Bruce M. Littlejohn selected the photographs. Nearly half of the pictures are of Ontario wil- derness scenery; most of the re- mainder are of the Northwest Territories, Alberta and British Columbia. They convey bo t h the ruggedness and the exquis- iteness of Canadian scenery. The beauts' is breathtaking. Any Canadian would be de- lighted to have this book and wilderness buffs would very likely be ecstatic. It is not a book to be given as a casual gift but to be presented on spe- cial occasions. DOUG WALKER. Focus on the University By J. FISHBOURNE they are trying to depict with- out too much difficulty. Some of modern art is good and ex- plicit; but miicl] of it is trash, and will not last." "My advice to hopeful art- ists? Take a pencil, cr a crayon and some paper and get going. You'll never learn younger and it's surprising what satisfaction it can give you." Up the system Poverty is failure Mr. Collins hesitated. "I per- haps shouldn't make a com- The few pages of appendix ment on it because I've been out giving evaluations of Franklin's of the system for too long. But I do believe that perhaps chil- dren are allowed more freedom to express themselves artisti- cally today. For example, when I was teaching art to high school students I had to study architecture. That to me is ra- expeditions are of great value to the reader. I am not an out- doorsman but I kept wondering why such large parties travelled together when game seemed so scarce, and why only a few of the men undertook to do any bunting. And I found these ques- "How a People by Alan Fry (Doutleday, 167 pages, "THIS has been the year of the Indian insofar as liter- ature is concerned. Several ex- cellent books have been writ- ten regarding the plight of these people, the advantage white so- ciety has taken of them, and the inept way they deal with their own problems. This awareness on the part of so- ciety seems almost to be psy- chological rather than sociolo- gical, as if in writing we can ease our conscience. In How a People Die, Alan Fry expresses how so many peo- ple feel about the Indian con- dition: that they are immense, ly difficult people to help. Described as a documentary novel, whatever that is, the story clearly reflects Fry's own experience as an Indian agent in B.C. It revolves around the death of an 11 month old Indian girl in the most shocking squal- or, while her parents indiffer- ently enjoy a day-long drinking bout. The conditions under which the child dies, while Ihe family around are getting drunk arc enough to turn anyone's stomach, including the RCMP constable who has to deal with the situation. He decides to charge the parents with neg- lect, feeling a sense of rage and helplessness in doing so, because he knows that it will resolve nothing. Fry says that, what really bothers Indians isn't peculiar to Indians; it's poverty pi a i n and simple. "Poverty is pover- ty no matter who suffers it, if that were all it would be easily solved. Money would cure it. But poverty is failure and you can't buy off failure." The problem with most of the books about Indians is that the authors are usually accurate in diagnosing the problem, but are totally unable to prescribe a cure. Tliis isn't intended as a criticism so much as it's intend- ed to raise a question. If we agree with Fry's savage and well mitten account, as well as those on the books about- Indians list, what are we going to do about it? Can we do any- thing, or is it up to the Indian leaders to pave the way now, after white man's fumbling ef- forts? Maybe this will come out in mere books to come on this serious social problem. MARGARET LUCKHURST. A RMIES in peace time, it is said, spend much of their time getting ready to fight the last war. Too true. No one trained troops for trench-warfare before the First World War. Europe prepared for the Sec- ond World War by building super trenches, like the Maginot line. Presumably the gen- erals are now busily studying the Second World War so as to know precisely how to deploy infantry divisions, tank regiments, fighter squadrons and the like if ar.d when blunder into a third World War. They will resolutely ignore changed technology, things like missiles and nuclear weaponry, that long ago made nonsense of the Second World War tactics. Generals can afford to-stay one war be- hind in their thinking. They survive the carnage that results, so are always around to explain how much worse the debacle would have been had it not been for their brilliance and heroism. So, they become national heroes, and are given medals and pensions. After all, they are generals, and therefore experts, which proves they knew what they were doing. (Privates and civilians are not experts, of course, so can be ignored. Anyway, they're part of the carnage.) And what has all that to do with educa- tion? A lot, I'm afraid. Armies and educa- tional systems work on some very similar principals. There are 'generals' among educators, too, who are in a position to ensure the system is geared to a previous epoch. They are close to the apex of tha responsibility pyramid, so are 'experts', and must be right. (They don't get medals, of course; just pensions.) There are other ways, also, in which tho approach to educational policy is very much iike the Ariny is to us aifau-s. In both systems there is a sort of mystique, a curious faith that only those Inside tha system "understand." Officers in both sys- tems generally subscribe to the view that critics on the inside are malcontents (to be ignored, but not promoted) while critics outside the system don't know what they are talking about, (and so can be ignored, In short, they believe you have to be firemen to holler As for the rank and file, in both systems all that is really necessary is loyalty to the system, of course and the appear- ance of diligence. Loyalty to "the troops" is permitted, in reasonable measure, but is scarcely essential. It is the system that counts, and as it is deemed perfect, it is to be followed, not tampered with. The educational system even has its casualties they're called children. The Voice Of One -By DR. FRANK S. MORLEY Getting ready for Christmas? TF YOU are not getting ready for Christmas you should because it only comes to people who are ready for it. In life you "see as you be." You take from any event just what the event finds in you. If you do not bring anthing to a concert, don't be surprised if you don't take any- thing away. The reason why you do not appreciate a book or a poem may be no reflection whatever on the book or the poem, but a sorry commentary on you. The innkeeper was not ready for Christ- mas. He was too busy, this steam engine in trousers who was smarter at making a living than a life. Jesus once told a story about men who were too busy to have any place for him. Martha was so busy that she missed the blessing that Mary re- ceived. Someone once asked John Wana- maker how he could possibly find time in his busy life to teach Sunday School. He replied that the Sunday School was his business; all other occupations were mere- ly sidelines. It is quite true that if you are too busy for God, you are too busy. "Seek you first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all other things will be added unto you." New ideas come into the world and they find no room at the inn of men's minds. People are too busy. Men say they can't go to church because they are too busy. So Jesus "came to his own and his own received him not." They had closed minds, busy with their cunning affairs. Herod was busy too, busy having what he called "a good busy with state administration. He was a tyrant and all tyrants are scared people. Let us give Herod credit, he did not underestimate Jesus. It was strange that the enemies of Jesus seemed to understand him better than his friends. They didn't sentimentalize him. These enemies saw that there was no place in society for people like Herod and people like Jesus. One of them had to go. Someone said of the Bethlehem cradle, "The safety of the world was lying there, and the world's danger." The shepherds were ready for Christ- mas and this is amazing because they were outcasts in society. They were cere- monially unclean and special purification rites were necessary for anyone touching one. The Wise Men were ready for Christ- mas and this was surprising because they were foreigners who lived a long way off. Simeon and Anna were ready for Christ- mas and this was astonishing too because they were old people. Old folk are not sup- posed to be ready for new truth, for vision and adventure. But for most people Christmas was meaningless and is meaningless. Carols, lights for the tree, tinsel, and some silly exchange of gifts. Their trouble is that they under-rate the power of God and the mys- tery of life. Christmas means the power of God in human life. Jesus, the Son of God, became like us to make us like he is. Here is the realization of the redeemed humanity. Christmas means redemption, regeneration, and reconciliation. Christ- mas means the sympathy and presence of God. Dante's poor, damned souls cried from the inferno, "0 living creature, gra- cious and benign, if only we knew that the King of the Universe was our This is what Christmas announces, the friendship of God. Christmas means that God has a purpose for society, that all creation points to a time of peace and goodwill on earth, to a world in which Herods are as out-dated as dinosaurs. A social revolution is coming in which "God puts down the mighty from their seats and exalts them of low degree." Get ready for Christmas, so that you can say afterward, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He hath visited and re- deemed His people to perform the mercy promised unto our fathers that Ha would grant unto us, that we being deliv- ered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear. Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death and to guide our feet in the way of peace." Is college necessary? From the Christian Science Monitor INCREASINGLY educators, parents, and students are questioning whether that unstated but very present American goal "a college education for everyone" is valid. Americans take much pride in the num- bers of youngsters going to college 8.2 million this year, triple the number in 1955. But some questions are being newly asked: Is this an overspecialization in one kind of progress? Is every individual truly "col- lege Does industry really re- quire an BA for most of its young ent- rants? Is higher education producing, in some instances, rebels and radicals be- cause the kids felt they were being force- fed at the wrong table? Could some young men and women do better at college if they had a year or two of outside work be- fore tackling higher education? California has managed to make college available to all high school graduates who want it. In the East the City University of New York has adopted an "open admis- sion" policy especially useful to disadvant- aged blacks and Puerto Ricans. If more and more universities take in more and more students, local and national govern- ments now, expending about S12 billion a year on higher education will see edu- cation costs kiting ever higher. Is it all worthwhile? There is some evi- dence that, already, universities are turn- ing out more B.A. degrees, as well as Ph.D.s than businesses and colleges need. There is indication that industry is re- quiring a college degree for some jobs that do not at all need a college-trained person. Meanwhile there are undersupplies of well-trained individuals in some profes- sions, notably medicine. And there is a lack of technical help in many a field, from auto repairmen to hospital assist- ants. Could not more technical schools pro- vide adequate training in the less special- ized fields? Somehow America must re-examine tha validity of its college-for-all goal. How to do this? When the Vietnam war ends and as draft rules change, this will terminate the draft-compulsion which sends some youths to college. It is suggested that if more students had to earn their tuition, paying back loans in later years, this would produce realistic second thoughts about educational values. Meanwhile busi- ness might revise its overzealous creden- tials. Basically, society in general should begin to understand that it is no disgrace not to have gone to college. In fact, if the young man or woman is being useful to himself and to society in more directly relevant and imaginative ways, or is simply raising a family, earning a livelihood and being a public-spirited citizen, he or she may be displaying more life-purpose than someone coasting along the college route.