Biography of Molly Lamb BOBAK

Molly Lamb Bobak



Painter, watercolourist, and printmaker, Molly Joan Lamb was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1922. Her father's activities as a collector and apologist for the Group of Seven and her mother's love of gardening and predisposition to the beauty of nature predetermined Molly Lamb's career in the visual arts.

A recalcitrant student, Molly Lamb met her lifetime mentor, Jack L. Shadbolt, while at the Vancouver School of Art (1938-41). Shadbolt's influence remained unabated throughout her career, more by dictum than example. She also studied Charles H. Scott at the Vancouver School of Art.

She served with the Canadian Women's Army Corps (1942-46), and through the intervention of A.Y. Jackson and Harry McCurry (Director, National Gallery of Canada), she became the first Canadian female war artist in 1946. It was here that she met her husband, Bruno Boback, also a Canadian war artist. She painted in this capacity at Aldershot, Britain, and later in Holland. Of her experiences she wrote an article entitled "I Love the Army" and was quoted as saying, "It was the humanity I tried to capture in my paintings."It was here that she met her husband, Bruno Boback, also a Canadian war artist.

Following the war and marriage, Molly Bobak returned to Vancouver where she taught at the Vancouver School of Art (1947-50) and began to work in radio and television for which she exhibited a particular aptitude.

In 1950-51 Bobak painted in France after receiving a scholarship from the French government. She taughtintermittently (1952-60) at the Vancouver Art Gallery (1954-58), and the University of British Columbia (1958-60).In 1960-61, she received a Canada Council Fellowship to study in Europe, Norway in particular.

Her overseas study was interrupted by her husband's appointment as Artist-in-Residence at the University of New Brunswick in Autumn 1960, which saw them relocate to Fredericton. Molly Bobak she taught at the University of New Brunswick Art Centre (1960-1977) and across Canada and resumed her television work offering live art lessons.

She is also an accomplished illustrator. She has worked for many national and provincial arts organizations such as the National Film Board of Canada and as well has served on the National Gallery's Ottawa Advisory Board.  



The corpus of work she has created divides itself into two categories: her elegantly limpid watercolours of flowers with their oriental spareness, and the expressionist oil paintings, celebratory affirmations of the ordinary events of our lives, in particular the commingling of mankind.



Although subject to myriad influences, not the least of which is her husband, Molly Bobak's rootedness in the organic and her gestural application of pigment ally her closely to the British Neo-Romantic school and by extension to the work of such Scottish women artists as Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley (1921-1963) and Anne Redpath (1895-1965).



By 1973 she had become a member of the Royal Canadian Academy.She has received honorary degrees from UNB (1983), Mount Allison University (1984) and Saint Thomas University (1994) and is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. In 1995 she was made a member of the Order of Canada.



Bobak's paintings are in many collections around the world.



In 1993, the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina organized a major touring retrospective of her work.



Her illustrated diaries were published by Dundurn Press in 1992 under the title, Double Duty: Sketches and Diaries of Molly Lamb Bobak, Canadian War Artist. Molly Bobak has also illustrated children's books including Sheree Fitch's Toes in My Nose.


Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia; Maria Tippett, By a Lady. Celebrating three centuries of Art by Canadian Women, Penguin books, Canada, 1992


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