Kathleen Morris by Melvin Ormond Hammond, 1930
Kathleen Moir Morris was born into Montreal’s Protestant elite in 1893. Encouraged by a doting mother who was a staunch defender of women’s rights, “Kay” Morris energetically pursued her studies in spite of a handicap that impaired her speech and coordination. She attended the Misses Gardiners’ private school and from 1907 to 1917 studied with William Brymner and Maurice Cullen at the Art Association of Montreal. Morris had joined the Beaver Hall Group in 1920.
From 1922 to 1929 Morris lived in Ottawa. Upon returning to Montreal in 1929, she lived near St. Joseph’s Oratory, a neighbourhood from which Morris often drew inspiration. Throughout her life, she spent two months of every summer in Marshall’s Bay near Arnprior, Ontario. There she would paint the fields and sunsets or cows and sheep. However since exhibitors preferred her town rather than country scenes, most of her time was spent developing her winter sketches into larger canvases.
The horses, old streetcars, market scenes, sleighs, and nuns are nostalgic reminders of a former time.
In Ottawa she painted frequently the market. In the winter, accompanied by her mother, she would take sketching trips to Quebec City, the Laurentians, or Berthierville, where they would usually spend six weeks each year. It was there that Morris painted many depictions of her favourite subjects – snow, horses, a town center with church and buildings. In Montreal, she lived near St. Joseph’s Oratory, a neighbourhood from which Morris often drew inspiration.
Simplified forms and bold brush strokes of vibrant colour mark her style.
She participates in the Beaver Hall Group’ exhibitions as well as those of the Canadian Group of Painters.
The National Gallery of Canada purchased one of her works for its collection.
Source: Evelyn Walters, The women of Beaver Hall. Canadian modernist painters, Toronto : Dundurn Press, Toronto, 2005