Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sir Frederick Banting and AY Jackson by Mo Bayliss

Dr. Frederick Banting and AY Jackson aboard the "Boethuk" on a painting expedition in the North West Passage 1927
Banting, celebrated as a Nobel Prize winner for the discovery of insulin by this time, enjoyed painting with his friend and mentor A.Y. Jackson. Together they explored and documented the Arctic, the North West Territories, Quebec, Cobalt and many other locations. Like Jackson, Banting worked outdoors in all kinds of weather conditions and seemed to be inspired by the challenges this posed.

April 26th, 1962. AY Jackson with his nurse Miss Zeta Wilson at the Banting Homestead.

Some day probably we shall have a biography of Sir Frederick Banting. When that comes to pass (and one may hope that it will not be too soon) it will be found that at least one chapter has already been written in Mr A. Y. Jackson's "Banting as an Artist". It is very short, but Mr. Jackson has managed in its small compass of words to do just what he has always been so infinitely capable of doing with his brush-he has produced a picture. If the biographer-to-be is wise he will take it just as
it is, and be thankful. It is hard to say wherein the charm of this bit of writing lies, though perhaps not any more difficult than is usually the case in tracing charm to its source. It has at least, however, complete freedom from any attempt at effect; it is perfectly simple and direct.

That is much. here is in it an underlying tone of austerity, of rigorous conditions of work, along with the tranquillity of untouched country life. One feels something of the fascination of the villages of Quebec, just as Banting felt it. Here is an extract from his diary while he was at Ste. Fidele on the North Shore:

" I hate to leave this country. There are so many fine things about the people. Life is less complicated. They have simple faith, large families, little of this
world 's goods and much happiness. They work long hours and steadily, but not too hard. They are never in a hurry."

Banting moved in it as naturally as a Canadian would, loving it and painting it with almost incredible success. But after all, the charm must lie mainly in the quality of Banting's mind, his wholesomeness, his eagerness, his honesty. He knew he wasn't a painter. "The pleasure," as Mr. Jackson says, "was in making them (his paintings), in mixing up a lot of colours in a sketch box and all the adventures that led up to it, the freedom from responsibility, scrambling over unknown country, getting burned by the March sun, smoking a pipe before the camp-fire, or the welcome at the ittle hotel and the good meals and the looking over the day's work."It is a side of his nature which it is very pleasant to be shown by so kindly and so wise a guide as his friend Mr. A. Y. Jackson.


Reference also: BANTING AS AN ARTIST*
By H. E. MacDermot, M.D., F.R.C.P.(0)

* Banting as an Artist. A. Y. Jackson. 37 pp.,
illust. $1.00. Byerson Press, Toronto, 1943.

photo of AY Jackson with nurse: From the archives of the late Edward Banting.

To revisit the F-A blog entry on Mo Bayliss and to see her art, please click here.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, the blog is looking great and so much to read about. News aspect is great too. cheers,



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