The Belkin Gallery houses archival collections complementing its collections of art and providing a resource for exhibitions, teaching, and learning, and scholarly research. Related especially to contemporary art since the 1960s, the archives include the papers of artists, art historians, and collectors, and contain material in multiple media (textual, graphic, moving image and sound), with a thematic focus on conceptual art, concrete poetry, mail art, performance art, social art history, and cultural history.
The Archives is open to all researchers by appointment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Please contact Susannah Smith, Archivist to plan your visit.
For a detailed list of holdings, please consult Memory BC:
Prominent holdings include:
The Eric Metcalfe Fonds consists of the papers of the Canadian artist known as Dr. Brute, associated with Lady Brute (Kate Craig) and with Leopard Reality; the fond contains multiple media material largely from 1968—72.
Eric William Welton Metcalfe was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1940. Born into a family with an interest in the arts, including dance, painting, and music, he was raised in Victoria, British Columbia, where his family moved in 1943. While attending St. Michael’s school in Victoria, he began drawing, cartooning, and printmaking, later studying drawing and sculpture with Czech artist Jan Zack. After travels in Europe Metcalfe returned to Victoria in 1963 to resume studies in art at the University of Victoria with Joan Brown, Denis Bowen, and Dana Atchley. He exhibited at the University of British Columbia Fine Arts Gallery in 1967 and at the Victoria Art Gallery in 1968.
Metcalfe became involved with Michael Morris and Vincent Trasov in the Image Bank correspondence network, the correspondence or mail art contingent in Vancouver in the late 1960’s. The movement was based on an aesthetic of ephemerality, with artists adopting alter egos, forming fictional companies, or building archives of collected images. It was at this time that Metcalfe developed the persona of Dr. Brute (sometimes referred to as Mr. Brute), who grew and flourished, and the leopard saxophone, a wooden instrument painted with leopard camouflage and fitted with a kazoo, became his most famous attribute. Dr. Brute’s fictional world, Brutopia, included leopard-spot decoration used in every possible way. Metcalfe married artist Kate Craig in 1969, and, with her collaboration (alias Lady Brute, sometimes referred to as Mrs. Brute) collected leopard material, and their mail art correspondents contributed found images of leopard-pattern usages. Metcalfe’s Leopard Realty research, begun in 1970, was aimed at discovering and revealing the ubiquitous nature of ordinary exotica, synonymous with pornography and kitsch as well as a certain expression of sexual power. This led to exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery, collaboration with Mr. Peanut and Marcel Dot (Vincent Trasov and Michael Morris), General Idea, and Hank Bull, and performance at the 1974 Decca Dance in Los Angeles.
Metcalfe was included in the 1970 Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition New York Correspondence School, and Morris/Trasov’s Image Bank Postcard Show, 1975. Metcalfe also produced and performed in film and video extensively from 1972, in 1973 co-founding the Western Front artists’ centre in Vancouver and, from 1978, curating its performance programme. Metcalfe continues to collaborate, exhibit and perform widely in Canada, Europe, the United States, and Australia, notably at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1984, at Documenta 8, 1987, and the National Gallery of Canada, 1999.
The fonds remained in the custody of the creator until its donation to the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery in a series of accessions from 1997—2000.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of: textual and graphic material related to the correspondence art movement as a whole; correspondence with the Image Bank network, including exchanges with Michael Morris, Vincent Trasov, and Gary Lee Nova; photographic, graphic and correspondence-related research material on the Leopard Realty (including Postcards, Leopard Realty Triangles, Endangered Species, Environments, Beyond Words, and Leopard Chair), Brutopia, Banal Brutality Inc., and the Banal Beauty series; materials related to the general development and promotion of the Dr. Brute and Lady Brute images, including cartoons and sketches; photographs of Metcalfe’s experimental jazz band The Brute Saxes; newspaper clippings relating to media coverage of Metcalfe’s own works; pamphlets and other published items relating to the showing or performance of Metcalfe’s works; other material related to Metcalfe’s work as an artist. Materials from each of the above mentioned categories are found throughout the different series, which are based on an analysis of Metcalfe’s arrangement of his own material before it was accessioned to the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery Archives.
For further information please contact: Susannah Smith at email@example.com,
tel: (604) 822-2001, or fax: (604) 822-6689