Molly Lamb Bobak (1920 - 2014)



Born on Lulu Island outside Vancouver, Molly Lamb Bobak's career as an artist was launched during World War II as an official war artist, the first woman to be given that title. Posted around the country and then overseas, she recorded the day-to-day, ordinary activities of the Canadian Women's Army Corps. Before arriving in Fredericton in 1960 with Bruno Bobak, named resident artist at UNB, Molly had reached maturity as an artist with national and international exposure. She was of the first generation of women artists to make their way as professionals in the Canadian art world.

Since 1960, Fredericton has been home, centre for her art-making and influences as teacher, as well as subject for her paintings.

Watercolor is the medium she favored for her flowers which attracted her for their random beauty. She expressed their fragility and fleeting moments of colour and pattern with simplicity of line and washes of color blotted and splattered over white paper. Oils on canvas, on the other hand, were solid surfaces and most likely chronicle impressions of gatherings of people around one or another communal event. Joyous in flavour and riotous in colour, texture, and movement, these crowd scenes were the artist's perceptions and responses to her immediate surroundings. They captured the essence of the occasion, rather than its details. Over the years, they have imaged skaters on the St. John River; action on the UNB football field; parades and processions; lighting of the communal Christmas tree; sunbathers on the beach; and such landmark events as the raising of the cross on the restored copper spire of Christ Church Cathedral. Even in the more restrained and solitary themes like interiors, the artist's perspective was human-scaled, enlivened, never static.

Yet the seemingly effortless calligraphy of her watercolors or the quick-silver brushstrokes of her oils are the dressing on a structured armature. The artist, as teacher, often spoke of the 'language of painting' and the 'architecture of a composition' - the significance of form in painting (apart from subject) as key lessons learned from her teacher and mentor Jack Shadbolt at the Vancouver School of Art. Disciplined and continually committed to her art, she set an example and offered encouragement and support to many aspiring artists. In fact, her influence spawned an identifiable ' school of Molly Bobak ' in the work of many admirers.

Molly Lamb Bobak died on March 1, 2014, having just celebrated her 94th birthday. To read her obituary, please click here: Molly Lamb Bobak