He studied Medieval History at the University of Cambridge and received his BA in 1939. He completed his M.A. in Art from the University of California in Berkeley in 1948. Following graduation, he took a position as a lecturer at the California School of Fine Arts.
From 1949 to 1951 he was the Director of Education at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. In 1951 he moved back to Canada and became Director of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria from which position he retired in 1973 when he began painting. Graham was given an Honorary LL.D. by the University of Victoria in 1978. His first one-man exhibition was held in Kyle’s Gallery, Victoria in 1980. Colin Graham was a member of the esteemed Vancouver Island painters’ group The Limners, whose members included Maxwell Bates, Richard Ciccimarra and fifteen others.
Graham’s work is represented in the collections of the University of Victoria, the Whatcom County Museum of Art, Bellingham, and the Burke Memorial Museum of the University of Washington, as well as in many private collections in Canada and the U.S.A.
Colin Graham, Edge of Town, gouache on paper Works on Paper
Colin Graham, Lakeside, oil on canvas
Colin Graham, Untitled - Sunset in the Valley, gouache on paper
Colin Graham, In Central Saanich, 1992 Watercolour @ Masters Gallery
Colin Graham, Untitled - Sailing at Sunset, 1991, acrylic on paper
10 Things You Should Know About The “Limners”
1.The Victoria Limners Society – also known as the Limners or the Limner Group – was a collective group of painters, ceramicists, sculptors and other visual artists based in Victoria, B.C.
2. The artists in the group started getting together in the 1960s, discussing their artworks and forming friendships. The Limners Society was officially incorporated in 1971 and dissolved in 2008.
3. The founding members were Maxwell Bates (who was its first president until his death in 1980), Herbert Siebner, Myfanwy Pavelic, Karl Spreitz, Nita Forrest, Richard Ciccimarra, Elza Mayhew, Robert de Castro, and Robin Skelton. Other members included Walter Dexter, Colin Graham, Helga Grove, Pat Martin Bates, Jan Grove, Leroy Jensen, Nikola Pavelic, Carole Sabiston, Sylvia Skelton and Jack Wilkinson.
4. The Limners Society’s general goal was to provide artistic, material and moral support to its members, in line with its more collegiate impulse to create a more friendly and progressive atmosphere for artists in Victoria.
5. The Group did not write a manifesto, nor did the members work in a particular style, medium or genre. However, they appeared to be aligned in their thematic exploration of the human experience, as well as relationships between humans. As Robin Skelton wrote in his book “The Limners” (1981), “They are, certainly, a group of friends and concerned to help each other by means of group exhibitions, but what really binds them together is an interest in what I must call “depth exploration of the human creature.”
6. The name “Limners” comes from the medieval guild of artists consisting largely of traveling journeyman painters.
7. The Limners often collaborated on works and exhibited together in Victoria at the Winchester Gallery, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and at Emily Carr House, as well as galleries across Canada. Even after the group dissolved, several remaining members came together for a joint reunion exhibition, “Limners: A Victoria Legacy”, at the Winchester Gallery in 2013.
8. The Limners are recognized for helping to enliven Victoria’s art scene to become one more progressive and contemporary.
9. Many of the members of the Limner Group came from Europe or elsewhere in Canada, bringing with them an international perspective and training that was invaluable to augmenting the artistic atmosphere in the relative isolation of Victoria.
10. Books written about the group include Robin Skelton’s “The Limners”, Pharos Press, 1981; and Patricia E. Bovey’s “A Passion for Art: The Art and Dynamics of the Limners”, Sono Nis Press, 1986.