Born in England, Canadian artist Walter Joseph Phillips attended evening classes at the local art school before attending Bourne College and the Birmingham School of Art. He became Art Master at Bishop Woodsworth School in Salisbury in 1908. He and his wife Gladys immigrated to Winnipeg, Canada in 1913, where he was Art Master at St. John’s Technical High School in Winnipeg.
Phillips lectured at the University of Wisconsin during the summers of 1917 and 1919. He became a member of the staff of the Banff Summer School of Fine Arts in 1940 and later became an instructor at the Institute of Technology and Art in Calgary from 1941 to 1949.
Philips illustrated numerous books and his own ‘Technique of the Colour Woodcut’ was published in 1926 in New York. He began to interpret his original watercolours into colour woodcuts, and his work ‘Valley of the Ten Peaks’, a watercolour from 1928 was chosen to be reproduced as a silkscreen for the Sampson-Matthews project.
The print is a faithful interpretation of the original, the purple and grey hues of the rocks mingled with ochre highlights. Phillips’ work was widely shown both nationally and internationally, and he was awarded numerous prestigious prizes including a Gold Medal for colour woodcut from the Society of Arts and Crafts of Boston in 1931.
He was a member of several societies, including the Royal Canadian Academy; the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour; the Manitoba Society of Artists, the Alberta Society of Artists; the Society of Canadian Painters, Etchers and Engravers; the Printmakers Society of California; the Society of Print-Makers of Los Angeles and the Society of Graver-Printers in Colour in London, England.
Phillips’ work is held in numerous national and international public institutions, such as Dartmouth College, the Art Association of Montreal, the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Hart House, the Metro Toronto Public Library, the University of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Mendel Gallery, the Glenbow Foundation, the University of Alberta, the Banff School of Fine Arts, the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Smithsonian Institute, the New York Public Library, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and others.