International Artist Donates 31 'African Scrapbook' Paintings to VIU

Curator Dr. Justin McGrail stands beside one of 31 paintings donated to VIU by international artist Maureen Marshall.

October 16, 2015 - 11:15am

International artist Maureen G. Marshall has donated a series of 31 paintings to Vancouver Island University (VIU) based on her sketches, masks, carvings and memories of her African and European travel experiences.

The collection of paintings are on display in a special exhibit at the View Gallery, a renovated art gallery at VIU’s Nanaimo campus from now until November 13.

About 30 people, including some of Marshall’s family members, attended an opening of the exhibit October 8.

Now 94 years old and living in Qualicum Beach, Marshall created the series to engage others in the postcolonial discourse through the mixing of past/present, colour/form, self/others and African/European themes, says art gallery curator Dr. Justin McGrail.

“At the opening, everyone was struck by the beauty and colour of this special collection,” he says. “Myself and two VIU Visual Arts work-op students, Chantelle Delage and Eddy Graham, took special care to hang this exhibit. We invite everyone to come and see these beautiful works of art in person.”

Born in England, and raised in BC, Marshall served in the Canadian Army during World War II before marrying and raising a daughter in California.

She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Art and Anthropology and a Master of Arts, Phi Beta Kappa, at the University of California, Berkeley, and has long remained interested in the intellectual and emotive power of African carvings.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Artists, Marshall studied with many notable Canadian and international artists. Exhibitions of her work have been mounted all over the world including London, Paris, Berkeley and San Francisco. Her paintings are in private collections in England, Sweden, Canada, Egypt, Spain, Mexico and the United States.

Geoff Ball, Executive Director of VIU’s Milner Gardens, says Marshall contacted him several months ago about donating the paintings to VIU.

She was long-time friends with Veronica Milner, former owner of the Milner Gardens & Woodland estate before it was acquired by VIU in 1996.

“Both Veronica and I were long time admirers of the University,” says Marshall. “We shared a real interest in seeing students do well.”

Marshall says her inspiration for the paintings came mostly from her studies in archaeology, as well as her extensive travels through North Africa and Europe.

William Litchfield, VIU’s Executive Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations, says VIU is grateful for the generous donation and for the partnership with the View Gallery, which made the exhibition possible.

The View Gallery is located in Building 330 at VIU’s Nanaimo campus, 900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo. The Gallery is open Tuesday to Friday, 1 to 4 pm. For information, please call 250-740-6350.



Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6288 E:

Twitter: @VIUNews

About The View Art Gallery

Since 1976, Building 330 at the Nanaimo campus has operated as a contemporary art gallery and exhibition centre. While the name has changed over the decades, the building’s function has not.

In May 2015, the Nanaimo Art Gallery Society consolidated its operations in the downtown Commercial Street location, and the building’s next evolution saw the creation of The View Gallery.

Curator Dr. Justin McGrail, an art history professor at VIU, says that exhibitions in the new Gallery “are purposefully installed without title-labels, in order to emphasize looking over reading.”

He believes an art gallery visit should be a visual experience, one that is unique to each visitor, who is encouraged to trust their own responses and associations.

Titles for each piece are important to the artists who created them, however, and as such, are available for visitors to consult at the gallery’s front-desk.

McGrail hopes this aspect of the gallery will produce unexpected discourses about the individual works, and visual art in general.


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