Gordon A. Smith

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Gordon A. Smith
Born (1919-06-18) June 18, 1919 (age 98)
East Brighton, England
Known for Painting, printmaker, sculpture and teaching

Gordon Appelbe Smith (born June 18, 1919) is a Canadian painter, printmaker, sculptor, and teacher living in West Vancouver, British Columbia. Smith taught with contemporaries Bruno Bobak, B.C. Binning and Jack Shadbolt at the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art and Design) for ten years, then 26 years at the University of British Columbia before retiring in 1982 to paint full-time.


Life and career

Smith was born in East Brighton, England. His father, William George Smith, was an amateur watercolourist. He took Gordon and his brother Donald on frequent visits to the National Gallery, London and to the Tate. They often walked the English countryside for inspiration in their work. The father critiqued the boys' paintings regularly. Great care was taken with their education. The brothers attended the Harrow County School for Boys where Gordon received four years of formal art training and several prizes for his art.

In 1933, Smith's parents separated. His mother Daisy Smith took the boys to live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Gordon did not see his father again until he went to England as an intelligence officer during World War II.

Before Smith went overseas for war service he took a vacation in Vancouver. He met and befriended Marion Fleming, newly graduated from the University of British Columbia (UBC). In 1941 they were married and Marion worked as a social worker while Gordon was away in the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Regiment. In Sicily, in 1943, Smith was seriously wounded. His shattered leg would require a long recovery period. In 1944 he returned to Vancouver where the Vancouver Art Gallery had a solo show for the work he produced overseas. In 1953 Gordon and Marion Smith moved to the North Shore of Vancouver into their first house designed by renowned Modernist architect Arthur Erickson. The need for a larger studio space prompted them to move to a second new house in West Vancouver, commissioned of friend Erickson in 1966. After Marion's passing in 2009, Smith continues to live there alone.

Smith continues to be involved in the contemporary art scene. He has exhibitions regularly at the Equinox Gallery in Vancouver. He still gives a talk on special occasions like the opening of the West Vancouver Community Centre in 2009. He is always forward thinking about his new work and continues to encourage emerging artists. A quiet, modest, yet confident man, Smith has said when praised for his work "I am a hundred artists deep." The focus is taken off himself and onto his influences.



Selected Influences/Experiences

Selected Awards

An accomplished internationally recognized artist, Smith won the "Structure with Red Sun Award" in 1995. He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1996. He is an Education Professor Emeritus at the University of British Columbia (UBC). In 2007 he received the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts. In March 2009 at The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, he was named a laureate and presented with the Governor General's Award in the Visual and Media Arts. He was made a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts [1]

Selected Collections

His works are in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. and in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England, as well as the Vancouver Art Gallery. He continues to have regular exhibitions of his large works at the Equinox Gallery in Vancouver. As a well-respected contemporary painter his works fill many corporate and private collections. In 2009 his massive wall sculpture "Beach Tangle" was installed in the lobby of the West Vancouver Community Centre, one of the venues for celebration during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.


  1. "Members since 1880". Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2013.

Thom, Ian M., Hunter, Andrew. Gordon Smith: The Act of Painting. 1997 Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd, Vancouver Art Gallery.