E. Conyers Barker, RCA, 1909-2003

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Rocky Shoreline | E. Conyers Barker

Rocky Shoreline | E. Conyers Barker

Mixed Media
Size: 5 1/2" x 8"
Price: SOLD

Details: Pencil, ink and mixed media on paper. Signed lower right. Framed, measures  13 X 15 inches
Provenance: Private Collection.

Additional Information and Photos Available Upon Request

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C.N.R. Station Laforest | E. Conyers Barker

C.N.R. Station Laforest | E. Conyers Barker

Size: 10 1/2" x 14 1/2"
Price: SOLD

Details: Watcolour on paper, 1956. Signed lower right. Framed, measures  20 X 23 inches
Provenance: Private Collection. Signed and inscribed by artist on reverse: "C.N.R. Station 'Laforest' - north of Capreol, Ontario, August 1956. Steam locomotive getting water from tower. E. Conyers Barker."

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E. Conyers Barker pursued art with determination and individualism,
though he never achieved the recognition given his contemporaries



Ernest Conyers Barker was born in Toronto in 1909.

E. Conyers Barker went on to study art at the Central Technical School in the 1920s under leading artists of the day, including Lawrence Arthur Colley Panton, Peter Haworth and others.

At night, he studied at the Ontario College of Art, including under Frederick Brigden.

E. Conyers Barker – the way he signed his works — associated with many leading artists of the twentieth century, including members of the Group of Seven, but was never a formal member of any prominent artist group or clique.

Painted in Watercolours

A photo taken by Charles Comfort in the early 1930s, shows E. Conyers Barker sitting with Joachim Gauthier, Franklin Carmichael, A.J. Casson and Tom MacLean, who formed the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour.

According to stories, he was nicknamed the “Horizontal boy” by fellow artists. Many of his artworks have strong horizontal lines, showing a continuum of fields topped by lines of sky, with gentle striations of colour. E. Conyers Barker achieved this simplicity after trying and then largely moving away from traditional landscape painting.

Remarkably, E. Conyers Barker was able to travel and paint across Ontario, Canada and overseas (Dominican Republic and the United Kingdom) despite the effects of polio contracted as a child. His companion was his wife, Hughina, known as Ina.

In later years, he was in a wheelchair, but continued to paint.

Experimented in Different Styles

In Ontario, favoured areas for watercolours, paintings and sketches included Georgian Bay, Algonquin Park, Huntsville, Aurora and the Holland Marsh area north of Toronto. E. Conyers Barker was also intrigued by the flat landscapes of the prairies.

Although known as a representational artist who painted many landscapes in watercolour, oil and acrylic, E. Conyers Barker progressed through different styles over decades. He focused heavily on abstract and cubist works for a time, but was pulled back to realism.

Over the years, E. Conyers Barker’s paintings were chosen for numerous group shows, including Royal Canadian Academy exhibits in the 1930s, as well as the New York World’s Fair. The MacLaren Arts Centre held a major retrospective of his work in 1995. In between, his works were displayed at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Art Gallery of Hamilton, and private galleries.

He held solo shows in Ontario, including at The Eaton’s Art Gallery and in Florida.

Home base for E. Conyers Barker was mainly Toronto, but later he moved to Barrie, where he worked in the 1950s as an illustrator and commercial artist with the young television station CKVR.

E. Conyers Barker was a member of Canada’s major artistic societies, including the Ontario Society of Artists, Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, Society of Canadian Artists and the Royal Canadian Academy (1990).

E. Conyers Barker painted into his 90s, finally stopped by blindness. He died in 2003.

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists,
volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker. National Gallery of Canada, Artists in Canada database.
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