RITCHIE, William B.
Born in Windsor, Ontario, he studied at Sheridan College, Brampton, Ont. (1972-74); Fanshawe College, Lond., Ont. (1974-75) and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1976.
Following his graduation he made his first trip to Labrador to fill a summer job under the Memorial University of Newfoundland's "artist-in-outport" community program at Nain. He stayed on there a year.
A husky individual, he now spends his summers in a primitive log cabin at Zoar, near Nain on the northern coast of Labrador. Without electricity, running water or central heating he lives the life of a trapper. He makes trips with Inuit and Native friends as far as Ungava Bay and climbs the rugged mountains of the region.
The ability of Inuit and First Nations peoples to imagine and believe in mythical characters and his contact with wild life and the rugged terrain of Labrador, draws Ritchie back each summer. From his Labrador companions' stories, he takes his inspiration for his art.
He spends his winters at St. Michael's printshop on the outskirts of St. John's, Newfoundland. His art is filled with half-mythical images of animals and birds as well as the wildlife that portray the tranquility of the north. Often he superimposes forms of wildlife upon landscapes, giving the impression that the land is impregnated with the spirits of animals and birds.
Bonnie Woodworth in 1983 noted in the Atlantic Insight, "Most of Ritchie's prints have a mystical quality because of the dark hues, the overpowering landscapes and the mixture of real and imaginary characters. Animals are a dominant theme. But, as Ritchie points out, 'the key to survival in the north is out-thinking them. Some day your life could depend on your ability to fend off or kill an animal for food.' The close interaction between man and animals is obvious in works such as 'Trout,' a lithograph of a fish with two faces in its gills, and 'Caribou,' about a boy who married a caribou and whose face is visible in the animal's antlers. . . . Ritchie supplements his income by fishing in summer with an Inuit sculptor, Gilbert Hay. Hay, a native Labradorian and a close friend, supplies many of the stories and myths he incorporates in his art."
About 1981 Ritchie had Hay started on print-making and since then Hay has exhibited many of his prints.
Exhibitions and Shows:
Some of his solo and dual shows include:
Shooting Gallery, N.S. College of Art & Design (1976)
Editions II, travelling exhibition sponsored by Memorial University Art Gallery, St. John's, Nfld. (1982)
Memorial University Art Gallery (1982) (2-man w/ G. Hay, 1982)
Waterford Gallery, Nfld. (1983) and a number of group shows nationally and internationally.
-Colin S. Macdonald, Dictionary of Canadian Artists
Category: Print Making