One of Muskoka’s best-known and prolific artists has passed away at the age of 96. Pat Fairhead passed away July 4 after a long career and many adventures around the globe.
According to patfairhead.ca:, Pat Fairhead came to Canada from England when she was 10 years old. Two days after arriving in Toronto she went to Muskoka and fell in love with the Canadian landscape. This sparked a life-long love affair with the wilderness.
At age 15 she was accepted to the Ontario College of Art (now OCADU), but had to wait until she turned 16 before she could attend. She has an M.Ed from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, and an M.A. from Goddard College, Vermont.
Inspiration for her work has lured her to the Arctic nine times. She has paddled up the west coast of British Columbia and a section of the Amazon River. She has hiked the outback of Australia, explored South Africa, Namibia, and Botswana, sailed down the Nile and toured around Europe, with many trips to England. She has travelled Canada East to West and back.
During her career Pat has had 70 solo shows nationally and internationally. Her work can be found in the Royal Collection of Prints and Drawings at Windsor Castle, England, and is represented in at least 200 corporate collections, government buildings and universities.
Pat’s first recognition came at age 16 with a proficiency prize from the Ontario College of Art. She was elected to the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour in 1966, and the Ontario Society of Artists in 1986. She has been a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art since 1993, and was awarded the A.J. Casson Medal for Excellence in Watercolour in 2011.
In November of 2022, she gifted the Bracebrideg Sportsplex with a large painting entitled, East Bay #4 Lake Muskoka, that is located in the main lobby, and three smaller paintings on display in the lifeguard’s station.
Fellow Muskoka artist Wendie Donabie posted the following tribute to Fairhead:
“Today we lost a Canadian Artist and icon. Pat Fairhead lived a full life of adventure and artistic success. She travelled nine times to the Canadian Arctic, as well as trips to many other locations in the world including paddling the Amazon and up the West coast of Canada. Strong, independent, a person who wanted to inspire other women to follow their hearts and not be held back by social norms or expectations.
At 96 she was still supporting herself through the sale of her paintings. And until very recently she painted regularly, having held her most recent solo show here in Bracebridge at the Britton Gallery in October 2022.
Pat’s work has been shown internationally and is held in private and corporate collections around the world, and public galleries including
• Market Gallery, City of Toronto Archives
• Ontario House, London, England
• Queen’s Park Parliament Buildings, Toronto
• Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa
• Royal Collection of Drawings & Watercolours, Windsor Castle, England
• St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre,1998
• Varley Art Gallery, Unionville
I consider myself blessed to call her a friend, a mentor and an inspiration. Rest in Peace, Pat. You will be missed “
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