William J. Stapleton fonds [multiple media]
Record Information – Brief1
William J. Stapleton fonds [multiple media]
- Hierarchical level:
- Type of material:
- Art, Moving images, Sound recordings, Textual material, Objects (including medals and pins), Photographs
- Found in:
- Archives / Collections and Fonds
- Item ID number:
- Context of this record:
Record Information – Details
- Fonds includes:
3 lower level description(s)View lower level description(s)
- Place of creation:
ca. 125 sketchbooks (ca. 6400 drawings) : pen and brush with black/brown ink/wash, watercolour, gouache, charcoal, pencil, pastel
ca. 1100 drawings : pen and brush with black/brown ink/wash, watercolour, gouache, charcoal, pencil, pastel
86 paintings : oil on canvas, oil on board.
ca. 130 prints : photomechanical reproductions
3 videocassettes (1 h, 15 min).
2 audio cassettes (1 h, 10 min).
ca. 50 cm of textual records.
- Language of material:
- Scope and content:
Fonds consists of audio-visual material documenting Bill Stapleton's status as an internationally respected artist, his artistic background, reasons why he represents the marginalized and poor of society in his work, his philanthropic drive as an artist, and ongoing commitment to the human subjects illuminated in and through his work. Included are sound recordings that consist of an interview with Bill Stapleton for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio program "Morningside" recorded 27 April 1993; and an excerpt from an interview with Stapleton, broadcast on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio program "Later the Same Day" and recorded 18 June 1996. Also included is a short documentary film featuring the life and work of Bill Stapleton entitled "Bill Stapleton: Art of Protest", produced in 1996 by CBC Arts and Entertainment; and an interview with Stapleton for the Rogers Cable 10 TV talk show "Ethnicity" recorded 2 October 1984.
Textual material in this fonds consists of a series of correspondence and subject files containing textual records on William J. Stapleton's war service, art exhibitions, political and arts activism, publishing and other projects. Included are letters, notes, manuscripts, printed ephemera, exhibition catalogues and clippings.
Fonds also includes an important amount of art by Bill Stapleton: over 120 sketchbooks containing ca. 6365 drawings; approx. 935 loose drawings some of which are matted; 14 oil paintings and approx. 82 reproductions, many of which are mounted in groups on boards. The main themes/subjects/social issues which are consistently represented in all of the above (mainly in the form of portraits and figure studies) include: World War II (works executed in England while serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force); Canadian Seamen's Union and Stelco strikes in Toronto, Montreal, Welland and Hamilton, as well as other Canadian labour issues or concerns; Cape Dorset and Labrador Inuit peoples and community leaders/elders; Mexican, Nicaraguan, Guatemalan subject matter including refugee camps, marketplaces, etc.; the Women's Movement; studies of nudes; Arts For Peace; Toronto street and community life (Queen's Park, Regent Park, Kensington Market, various parades & festivals, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, etc.); Toronto nightclubs/taverns and entertainment (i.e. The Paramount Tavern, The Hotel Winchester, The Trojan Horse Coffee House), and works commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War and the Mackenzie Papineau Battalion.
- Additional name(s):
- Biography/Administrative history:
Stapleton, W. J. (William J.), 1916-2008 : William J. (Bill) Stapleton was born in Stratford, Ontario, in 1916. He graduated from high school and finished a year of commercial school before leaving Stratford at age 17 to work with a survey crew on the Trans-Canada Highway north of Lake Superior, near Jackfish. While in the bush, he began to draw, sending his work home to his older brother, Bruce Stapleton, who had attended art school, to critique. Deciding he wanted to become a graphic artist, he went to New York to study at the Works Projects Administration school and then at the National Academy of Design. While in New York, during the Depression, he was exposed to Marxist theory and practice and became a socialist and political activist. Determined to fight Fascism during World War II, he joined the RCAF in 1941. He trained as a bomber pilot and was sent overseas to England in February of 1943, where he spent most of his service as a staff pilot, attaining the rank of Flight Lieutenant. During these years, he continued to paint and draw : he exhibited some of his work in the Canadian Armed Forces Art Exhibition of 1942 and, while in England, he attended classes at the Slade School of Art in London. On his return to Canada, Stapleton established an advertising agency in Toronto, Stapleton Advertising, which largely handled industrial accounts. He continued to paint portraits of union workers, of Indigenous peoples when he went to his cottage on Parry Sound, and of people in the street. He joined the Canada - USSR Association and travelled to Russia in the 1970s. He was also a member of Veterans Against Nuclear Arms, Artnica (Artists for Nicaragua) and Arts for Peace, which he co-founded in 1982. In the 1980s, he travelled to Nicaragua and to Mexico to paint Guatemalan refugees. His drawings appeared frequently in the communist newspaper, The Canadian Tribune, as well as in the Toronto Star and other publications. CBC radio interviewed him about his experiences. His paintings were exhibited and sold at benefits to raise money for various liberation causes. A book about Stapleton's life and work, People in Struggle: The Life & Art of Bill Stapleton, edited by C.H. Gervais, was published in 1992, and the CBC broadcast a documentary on him, Bill Stapleton: the Art of Protest, in 1994.
- Finding aid:
Moving images (Electronic) Refer to MINISIS for item-level descriptions. (Restrictions not set)Sound recordings (Electronic) Refer to MINISIS for item-level descriptions. (Restrictions not set)Textual records (Electronic) MSS2352 (90: Open)
- Subject heading:
- Other accession no.:
Ordering and Viewing Options
- Conditions of access:
Moving images: Reproduction with written permission of copyright owner.
Sound recordings: Reproduction with written permission of copyright owner.
Graphic material: Permission of copyright owner must be obtained when reproduction is for purposes other than research or private use.
Textual records: Researchers must obtain permission from William Stapleton's immediate family when requesting reproductions of textual material. This condition is only valid for the lifetime of William Stapleton's immediate family members. Please see artist file for contact information.
The recipient of copies is responsible for determining whether material is subject to copyright and for ascertaining the name of the person or organization holding copyright. The recipient is also responsible for determining whether any use of copyrighted material does or does not constitute an infringement of copyright under the Copyright Act.
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