Telling Stories: Narratives of Nationhood

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Questions of Canada: Politics of Culture and Community

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Jack Shadbolt
Flag Mural
About the Artist and the Work  |   Looking at the Art  |   Artistic and Cultural Heritage
image of artwork
Jack Shadbolt, Flag Mural, 1964. Enamel on canvas. 211.0 x 375.0 cm. Collection of CCAG.

Jack Shadbolt was born in England in 1909. He moved to Nelson, British Columbia, in 1912, then to Victoria in 1914. He studied at Victoria College in 1927 and at Provincial Normal School in 1929. He developed a friendship with Emily Carr in 1930 and was influenced by her work. He began teaching in British Columbia, continuing his studies at the Vancouver School of Art under artist Frederick Varley. He pursued more art education in London, Paris, and New York. He was a painter, author, and teacher, becoming an instructor at the Vancouver School of Art. In 1945, he also served overseas as a Canadian War Artist in London. Until his death in 1998, Shadbolt was a prolific artist who used colour and abstraction to depict natural subjects and emotions.

In 1964, the Confederation Centre of the Arts arranged for the commission of a mural painting by Jack Shadbolt to interpret Confederation. In response, Shadbolt created Flag Mural, which represents the challenge of finding the right symbol to represent a multicultural Canada. At the time he created the painting, the political situation in Canada was changing, and Shadbolt was questioning what kind of symbol might suit this change.