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Hugh Hanson Davidson - A Life in the Arts

William Walton Armstrong Untitled, 1952 Oil on canvas
Image Credit: Collection of the Kamloops Art Gallery, Gift of Hugh Hanson Davidson
March 25, 2016 - 3:00 PM

KAMLOOPS - In 2014, the Kamloops Art Gallery received a bequest of works of art from the private collection of Hugh Hanson Davidson (1930-2014). Davidson was a generous benefactor to the Gallery. He donated a number of works in 1998, as well as his library of books. The Gallery celebrated Davidson and his gift at a special reception in 2002, naming its library the Hugh Hanson Davidson Library. It was always Davidson’s intention to bequeath to the Gallery what remained in his collection, which he amassed over many decades.

Though his primary interest was music, and most of his working life was as an arts administrator and music programmer for various agencies, including CBC, BBC, Canadian High Commission in London, National Arts Centre and Canada Council, Davidson had an abiding interest in the visual arts. As a young man, he began to collect works that caught his eye and that he could afford. Later, especially during his years in Ottawa and Montreal, his taste reflected a greater awareness of contemporary art and a primary motivation was to support younger artists. This continued during his retirement years, when he moved first to Vancouver in 1988 and then to Victoria in 1998.

Davidson never acquired works of art as an investment. His increasing sophistication over the years was the result of his own open mind and insatiable curiosity—learning from his visual arts colleagues at the Canada Council, for instance—and an awareness of current trends and artistic practices. His significant relationships with trusted dealers wherever he lived informed many of his choices. Davidson was ever open to suggestions, but most of all he came to believe that the purchase of contemporary art was a form of direct support to artists.

This belief had first been expressed by his determination in the early 1950s to pursue a career in the arts. He would continue affirming the value of artists and art in a variety of disciplines throughout his life, as a facilitator, promoter and staunch advocate. His purchases were never extravagant or ostentatious. He was always aware of his community and its artists, but the cosmopolitan nature of his acquisitions reflected a world view.

This exhibition celebrates a life in the arts. It presents work which Davidson inherited from his family and work he acquired throughout his life. Not only does this collection present an insightful survey of Canadian modern art, it also shows how this collector’s acquisitions were informed by where he lived, where he travelled and what would give him lasting delight in his home. The exhibition of approximately 100 works represents a collector’s biography, showing how the collection was formed, highlighting the dealers Davidson patronized and how his collecting activity became an expression of his support of artists and their work. A coinciding publication is available in the Gallery Store.

Hugh Hanson Davidson - A Life in the Arts

April 2 to June 18, 2016

Curator’s Tour with Roger H. Boulet: Saturday, April 2, 5:30 pm
Opening Reception: Saturday, April 2, 6:30 to 8:00 pm

Curated by Roger H. Boulet

Generously sponsored by Funk Signs Inc.

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