Forgotten Scarborough artist on display this month to 'create a buzz'


The work of one of Scarborough’s forgotten artists has been largely hidden away for years.

Supporters of Elizabeth Fraser Williamson, the subject of a rare exhibit this month at the Scarborough Civic Centre, want that to change.

An abstract sculptor, Williamson was the last artist to live at what is now Guild Park while working and teaching there.

Her sculptures deserve to be in Canada’s National Gallery and the Art Gallery of Ontario, says Flavio Belli, an art consultant and curator.

“She is an overlooked major sculptor of her day, and her work should be out,” he said, calling the exhibit, which continues until Nov. 26, “a first step to create a buzz.”

Rosa and Spencer Clark invited Williamson to their artist colony by the Scarborough Bluffs in 1970. She remained until 1990, living in one cottage and sculpting in the Osterhout Log Cabin.

When Williamson was 87, a foundation acquired 187 of her sculptures, and in 2001, a year after her death, they were added to the City of Toronto’s collections, followed closely by nine other sculptures.

“They’ve been basically hidden away in storage since 2006,” Belli said.

Curated by Alex Audichuk, The Language of Shape presents 23 of Williamson’s smaller works in two cases within the Civic Centre’s rotunda.

On the building’s second level there happens to be another of her sculptures, a small family grouping in a modernist style.

Her daughter, Sara Williamson, said the artist joined the Guild “to make sculpture appreciation accessible to the public,” and the natural setting and freedom from financial worries made it a productive environment.

Admirers are hoping Williamson’s work, much of it in clay or bronze, will be displayed at the Clark Centre for the Arts, a building being renovated on the Guild Park grounds.

A permanent or rotating display of Williamson’s sculptures there “makes perfect sense,” said John Mason, president of Friends of the Guild Park and Gardens.

A bronze plaque installed by the Guild Renaissance Group on Williamson was stolen from the grounds last September. The artist’s family is paying to replace it, Mason said.

The civic centre is located at 150 Borough Dr.