Betty Goodwin, self-portrait, c. 1954-55
Since 1947, the self-taught Montreal-born Goodwin had been exhibiting her domestic still lifes and figurative work, which showed her compassion for postwar suffering in an expressive style of social realism. Critical reception had been luckwarm, however, and Goodwin knew that she had yet to tap the visual language to express her inner self. In 1968, she attended an etching class given by Yves Gaucher at Sir George Williams University (later Concordia) in Montreal and began to experiment with printing, using objects of clothing pressed into the etching plate. She died in Montreal in 2008.
In the early 1960s, long before Betty Goodwin made her breakthrough in the art world with a series of etchings based on men’s vests, she knew that the objects in a work of art “must possess an intense reality revealing more than the visible”.
Goodwin has explored a variety of materials and techniques over the course of her career, producing sculpture, paintings, prints and installations. However, it is her drawing and the revival of an emotionally fraught figurative art that are considered by many to be her most important contribution to Canadian art.
Source: Anne Newlands, Canadian Art from its beginnings to 2000, Firefly books, 2000