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George Sawchuck


  • born in 1927 in Kenora, Ontario
  • mother from Poland, father from Russia

expanded images click on thumbnails at left to view larger images

A self-taught sculptor, George Sawchuk does not claim to be influenced by his cultural background, except to admit that his parents' socialist inclinations may still be informing his work today. Attending both Catholic school during the week and Russian school on Saturdays, Sawchuk grew up exposed to the conflicting ideologies of Catholicism and communism with which he still struggles in his portable works and works in nature. Rejecting formal education at a fairly young age, Sawchuk was working on a construction crew when an accident resulted in the amputation of one of his legs, an event that ironically left him with the time that enabled him to explore his artistic interests. Instinctively using found materials to create sculptures that interacted with trees, gradually being overgrown and disappearing into the nature from which they originally came, Sawchuk was essentially unaware of his connection to previous and current art practices until he met the Baxters, two artists who had founded the N.E. Thing Co. and had moved to North Vancouver. Beginning with his discussions with them, Sawchuk began also to carve a place for himself in the art world, creating portable sculptures that could be displayed in galleries and museums, as well as his outdoor pieces. The portables are usually made with wood and metal, often incorporating found objects, as when a Bible is imprisoned behind bars (The Last Dinosaur, 1989) or an apple suspended inside a log (The Consummation, 1989). Sawchuk employs a strange iconography in which crosses are combined with coins, church steeples with cash registers, religious symbols, capitalist symbols, and symbols of the communist working class, functioning together to convey his intended social message. The forest site works around his home are well-known, particularly as they extend beyond his property onto Crown land and were the subject of a much-documented controversy in 1997. Sawchuk was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy in 1979.



1996 Hornby Island, British Columbia

Denman Art Gallery, Denman Island, British Columbia


1992 Arts Alliance Gallery, Courtenay, British Columbia


1989 Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia


1988 Yard Work
Western Front Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia

Grunt Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia


1983 Portland Center for the Visual Arts, Portland, Oregon

Rubin/Mardin Gallery, Seattle, Washington


1982 Gallery K., Washington, D.C.


1981 Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia


1980 Glenbow Gallery, Calgary, Alberta

Mendel Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


1971 Pacific Lutheran College Fine Arts Gallery, Tacoma, Washington


1970 University of British Columbia Fine Arts Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia



1998 Doll Tribe
Comox Valley Art Gallery, Comox, British Columbia


1997 Books n' Stuff, Courtenay, British Columbia


1996 Welcome to Our World
McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario


1995 The R.C.A.
Michelle Frost Gallery, Victoria, British Columbia


1993 Art of Seeing
The Filberg Gallery, Comox, British Columbia


1992 Images to the Silence
The Filberg Gallery, Comox, British Columbia


1991 Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia

Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Vancouver Island Chapter, British Columbia


1990 Port Angeles Fine Art Center, Port Angeles, Washington

Lieux de travail
Concordia Art Gallery, Montréal, Québec


1988 Cliff Michel Gallery, Seattle, Washington


1987 Artropolis: Exhibition of Contemporary British Columbia Art
Vancouver, British Columbia


1985 Canada Collects, Contemporary Sculpture from the Art Bank
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Recent Canadian Sculpture: Selections from the Canada Council Art Bank
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

Wood of the West: Direction Est
Optica Gallery, Montréal, Québec


1984 14 Island Artists
Pitt International Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia

Beyond the Malahat
Open Space Gallery, Victoria, British Columbia

Off the Wall
Art Alliance Gallery, Courtenay, British Columbia

Reconstituted Elements
Mercer Union Gallery, Toronto, Ontario


1983 October Show
Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia


1982 Rubin/Mardin Gallery, Seattle, Washington

Graphic Design Canada, 25th Anniversary
Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan


1981 The Farm Project
Arlington, Washington


1980 Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia


1978 10th International Sculpture Symposium Exhibition
Harbourfront Gallery, Toronto, Ontario


1976 Celebration of the Body Exhibition
Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario


1973 Wood Sculptors
Lake Head University, Port Arthur, Ontario


1972 Discoveries
Burnaby Art Gallery, Burnaby, British Columbia


1971 Texture
Henry Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington


1970 Sondages 70: Réalismes = Survey 70: Realisms
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Québec; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario


1969 Art Inside the Arctic Circle
Inuvik, North West Territories

980, 000
Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia

557, 087
Seattles World Fair Center, Seattle, Washington



Connors, A. Hands, Head & Heart: A Closer Walk with George Sawchuck. Videotape. Haeckel Hill Pictures, 1998.



Abbott, Julie and George Brown. Videotape. Vancouver, British Columbia: Vancouver Community Television, 1981.

Amaya, Mario. Sondages 70: Réalismes = Survey 70: Realisms. Montréal, Québec: Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal; Toronto, Ontario: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1970.

Amos, Robert. "Beyond trees and ducks." Monday Magazine (17 October 1984): n.p.

Art Gallery of Ontario. Contemporary Canadian Art. Toronto, Ontario: Hurtig Publishers, 1983.

Bringhurst, Robert, ed. Visions: Contemporary Art in Canada. Vancouver, British Columbia: Douglas & McIntyre, 1983.

The Canada Council Art Bank Catalogue, 1972-1987. Ottawa, Ontario: Canada Council, 1987.

Christy, Jim. "Weirder Homes and Gardens." Equinox (March/April 1990): 36-37.

---. "Yard work." Western Living (May 1990): n.p.

Ferguson, Bruce. George Sawchuck. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Mendel Art Gallery, 1980.

---. "A natural Politic." Vanguard 10, no. 3 (April 1981): 10-17.

Folio. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Mendel Art Gallery, 1980.

Garver, Thomas. "I've got to get backed up against the bush." Artscanada (December 1969): 30-34.

Glowen, Ron. "An honest playfulness." Artweek (12 February 1983): n.p.

---. "Landscape art in the Pacific Northwest." Idaho Arts Journal (Fall 1984): n.p.

Harris, Steve, et al. October Show. Vancouver, British Columbia: Contemporary Art Gallery, 1983.

Hurtig, Annette-Debby, and Ronald Gordon Glowen. Sawchuck: Yard Work. Vancouver, British Columbia: Western Front, 1988.

---, et al. Artropolis: Exhibition of Contemporary British Columbia Art. Vancouver, British Columbia: Artropolis, 1987.

Jorden, Terry. "An artist's search for freedom." Lifestream Magazine (5 March 1982): n.p.

Lansoo, Mati. "An artist in artless times." Vancouver Magazine (September 1982): n.p.

---. "Images - Sawchuck could chuck wood." Vancouver Magazine (January 1977): n.p.

Lippard, Lucy, and Morrie J. Alhadeff. 955, 000. Vancouver, British Columbia: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1970.

Macdonald, Murray, et al. Wood of the West - Direction Est. Montréal, Québec: Galerie Optica, 1985.

Martin, Tony. "Sawchuck - sculpture." Arts Alliance News (Winter 1992): n.p.

Paikowsky, Sandra. Lieux de travail. Montréal, Québec: Concordia Art Gallery, 1990.

Penny, Francis. "The enchanted forest." In Focus Magazine (March 1997): n.p.

---. "Profile of an artist." In Focus Magazine (August 1993): n.p.

Perry, Art. "Artist George Sawchuck is a 'True Canadian'." The Province (29 March 1981): n.p.

Reinhardt, Derreth. Graphic Design Canada - 25th Anniversary. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Mendel Art Gallery, 1982.

Tousley, Nancy. Welcome to Our World. Kleinburg, Ontario: McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1996.

Wiseman, Les. "Outsider art. George Sawchuck's forest sculptures are among the many unique things to explore on nearby islands." Georgia Straight 31, no. 1535 (22 May 1997): 15, 17-18.


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