Sybil Andrews

Heritage Society

Stories

EXCERPTS FROM STORIES PROVIDED TO US BY FRIENDS AND STUDENTS OF SYBIL ANDREWS. A FEW LOVELY MEMORIES AND SENTIMENTS TO FOLLOW:

 

Sybil was a very hands-off teacher...She always said, "just quietly go about your work; without making a big scream or splash"...Her main focus was for us to learn to see...she would encourage us to see subtleties, the shadows within the shadows. She wanted us to paint where something was happening..."look for angles and curves and don't be afraid to let your lines go off the page"."Don't box it in"..."draw everything and you will learn to see" --Richard Calver



Sybil never taught – instead she questioned each student...She would ask "Where would you want the eye to go"? What do you need to make the eye go there?" She wanted the students to do something, "do something" but never told you exactly what...In the summer it was water colours and oils in the winter...At tea time, we critiqued each other's work...Her students were like her family...At Christmas she made mince tarts and Christmas cake...She lived a quiet life, but had no time to chat...She and Walter often took the dog for a walk on the beach and picked up bark for the heater. The late, --Marlys Robinson


I was introduced to Sybil's work when she taught Art at the local High School...I later took art lessons at her Cottage...Sybil carried a sketch book wherever she went...She had extraordinary knowledge of various art media and was versed in many subjects... The walls were covered with pages from Esquire Magazine... Sybil's hobbies were tatting and poetry writing... Social evenings at the Cottage included watching homemade reel movies and engaging in good conversation.
-- Hattie Cameron

 

An Art Student's Thoughts

Sybil was extremely accomplished in several art media...She never criticized your work....Her only comment would be "Try another one."....A table would be set up with still life objects such as flowers or pots to sketch, draw or paint...Charcoal drawings were also done using people as the subjects....Simply dressed with steel grey hair, Sybil always wore hoop earrings and large glasses...and was always brewing strong tea on the oil stove. --Joan Eccles



Notes from a friend.
We were personal friends and I did a lot of deliveries for her. When I was going to Antique Auctions in Vancouver, I would deliver Sybil's art to dealers who worked with Love's and Tydsley's Art Auction Houses...When Walter passed away I picked up groceries and sometimes large items when she need them...Ken and Chester Sampson were very good to her, helping with a lot of repairs... there has been a lot of people in my store inquiring about where she lived-people from the UK, Germany, US and Canada, mostly Alberta. --Les Kellow


We used to play recorders at Sybil's house in the late sixties. She had a whole set of recorders from tiny sopranino to great bass...She could play them all...She had other medieval instruments: one, I think was a lute... Sybil would serve tea and cookies. She made a big pot of strong tea and then diluted it with boiling water. She always remembered each person's preference- strength,sugar and/or milk.
Sybil always wore trousers...When she went to a concert, she would dress in black velvet pants and a blazer...Walter made a big garden cart, Sybil would take it to the store for groceries. --Margaret Murray


Sybil was very knowledgeable and interested in what I was doing mechanically in the garage as she did welding on boats in the British shipyards... She could always identify what I was doing. --Glen Murray


...A local stationery store (the Paper Clip) was the first to show us some of her work...Sybil and Walter had a rough time making ends meet, but with her classes and his wood work in the shed, they would manage...She was very direct but patient and her favourite expression was, "stop niggling."...She taught art classes during the day as well as in the evenings...She also had 6 or 7 recorders and gave lessons...Sybil would have soup on the stove but art was more important to her than cooking. --Doris Ritchie
The stationery store mounted a sale of some of her English oils...I persuaded her to show some prints in the multipurpose room at the high school... We were becoming aware of the treasure we had in our midst... One lesson I vividly recall was expressed concisely by Sybil..."Rather than trying to paint what Nature appears to be, paint what she is doing." ..."Have a go at it," I can hear her saying...Sometimes she would focus on a sketch of her own with such concentration we would not see her until it was time for tea...No matter—Sybil's strong will controlled us whether near or afar.
The late,--Lorne E. Ritchie, from his Eulogy for Sybil at Hudson's Farm in 1992.


... 19 years of weekly classes...Sybil was a quiet, reserved woman steeped in art and culture. A woman of great intellect, fascinated by everything, she was thoughtful and giving of her time and knowledge. She encouraged her students to expand their horizons and THINK for themselves... She loved our outings, when we would go to places like Cumberland, Elk Falls Park and the Foreshore Longhouse...so we could draw in the moment... photos were not allowed, homework was mandatory...there were many stories-use of the well as a refrigerator, the beloved dogs, the bathtub washing machine, the bus trip to Vancouver for Sybil's show and Tea at Murchie's... --Marcy Prior


During the 1970's I attended Sybil's Thursday evening painting classes at her home in Willow Point, Campbell River. They were special times for me...more importantly an opportunity to immerse myself in an activity I enjoyed in the guiding company of a true, veteran artist. My first class recollections are vivid. "So, you want to paint Sharon". "Well, lets get down to it"...there was no room for any doubt that this was anything but serious business...The inside of Sybil's house (handcrafted by her husband, Walter) felt right for the creative work...cardboard covered wood floors...sturdy home built chairs, the warmth of a wood heated stove and evidence everywhere of the tools and paraphernalia of a dedicated and very accomplished artist.
When Sybil spoke, I listened...when she wrote to me, I valued her comments...always carrying the central message-Draw,Draw, Draw-keep on drawing. There's no other way... She would say"Whats hard is getting down to it"... Sybil never let resistance get in her way. I cherise the words from one of her poems... Try, All Ways, Any Way, Every Way, Only Try, To find YOUR OWN WAY.
Sentiments about Sybil by Sharon Cameron


How fortunate that she lived amongst us and left the community with an invaluable gift (the Cottage as well as her influence in art). I will always remember Walter interrupting Sybil's recorder classes to call out "Oi Sybil, I want you." -- Morgan Ostler


I didn't attend Sybil's classes until she was in her eighties...I guiltily grabbed a 2 minute sketch of her while she was dozing...she often had a little snooze while watching her bird-table... I loved Sybil's garden, the knotty quince trees and its feeling of a wild meadow, the reverse of regimented. -- Lyn Farquharson



Thoughts of Sybil. I believe Sybil influenced everyone who was lucky enough to meet her...My big impression was she was so humble, and she would encourage us over and over again...to her, art had an important voice in the world... assignments such as 'dandelions rejoicing' – 'tea party' – carrying water'...always a challenge to express. It made you tap into your creative self. -- Laurie Bartlett



As a daughter of Elsie Hay (former student of Sybil's) and Harold Hay (close friend to Walter), I can recall how pleased my parents were to know them both, Mom through art and Dad through wood work in the back shed with Walter.
She(mom) told me each winter Sybil arranged 2 displays of still-life in her home for students to choose to paint. Sybil chose all the paint colours. --Bunnie Howie


Movement is Life...some memories of Sybil Andrews and Walter Morgan.
In the late summer of 1975, I was in the final year of High School in Campbell River, British Columbia and my art teacher, Geri Simpson suggested that I accompany her to a class given by Sybil Andrews...I had not heard of Sybil before... The enthusiasm of my art teacher convinced me that I should attend the class...I still remember fondly the first meeting with Sybil as she spoke with such passion and enthusiasm, however it was a modest, gentle enthusiasm and she struck me as a unique individual...She left me very hopeful and full of ideas...I had no idea that Sybil would become such a good friend and mentor...
Sybil firmly believed that you had to be able to express yourself competently in the basics of colour, composition, contrast and form before you could successfully attempt linocut printing...her motto was 'Draw everything, everything you like and dislike' as strong drawing is the scaffolding upon which everything else holds together. I spent over 5 years in her classes before I attempted linocut printing.
My fondest memories are the afternoons we spent working together in her studio- Sybil working on her linocuts at her printing bench and me painting canvasses on the other side of the studio, normally on the wonderful easel which Walter had made...We would end the day with a cup of Earl Grey tea, homemade biscuits or fresh bread from the local bakery...Our discussions would range through art, religion and life in general...I recall her often saying that she strove for movement and form within her work and that for her, sharp angular curves best expressed the idea that everything was on the move and nothing stood still...I attended Sybil's classes for ten years before I came to London in 1985...I feel privileged to have been her close friend and I was honoured that she dedicated her book,'The Artists Kitchen' published in 1985, to me.
--Gary Ratushniak


...In 1984 I offered to cut their lawn (Sybil & Walter's). Their lawn contained lots of wild flowers...including dandelions...cutting the lawn was not that simple...everything had to be left until it went to seed...and provide food for the finches... Sybil would put stakes and strings around the plants that were not to be cut so I would carefully zig zag around the lawn...It was late August before I could cut the whole lawn... Sybil was an inspiration to me...she was always so keen and observant about everything around her...She would occasionally write environmental letters to the local newspapers... One day she said,"I want to show you something". She had found a dead Heron skeleton on the beach, and there on the ledge in Walter's shop, she had wired the Heron's skeleton into the stand position...She told me about 10 crows that were standing in a circle cawing loudly at a crow in the middle of the circle. Sybil said the one in the middle must have done something very wrong and the others were scolding him- (She was a great creator of imparting knowledge through stories as well).
--Don McIver


For further information, contact Mary Teer crarts.ca