Visual Art

From a very early age PK produced drawings of great promise, and throughout her life she counted visual artists, such as Jori Smith, Miller Brittain, Maxwell Bates, Leonora Carrington and Pat Martin Bates among her friends. However, it was not until she moved to Brazil, where her husband, Arthur was serving as ambassador, that she began painting and drawing in earnest, under the name P.K. Irwin. Her first, self-taught works were primarily realistic sketches, but under the guidance of a series of mentors, most notably the surrealist painter Leonora Carrington whom she met in Mexico during her husband's next diplomatic posting, her skill and range increased. It was in Mexico that she did her most ambitious work, and had her most successful public exhibitions, but she continued to produce visual art in various media after returning to Canada from Mexico and taking up poetry once again. The works she produced in her later years were infused with the same spiritual philosophy (especially Sufism) and symbolism as her poetry.

The Digital Page will include a detailed catalogue raisonné of the nearly 1,000 works by PK so far identified, illustrated by full-colour images of her works, where obtainable. The Art of P.K. Irwin, “Observer, Other, Gemini,” the complementary volume to be published by the Porcupine‘s Quill Press, will comprise a selection of these works and will provide a social-historical contextualization of PK's visual art and her career as an artist.