Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Not to be confused with the Leighton Artists Colony*

Leighton Art Centre
Watercolour and oil pastel
©2019 Charlene Brown

British-born artist Alfred Crocker (AC) Leighton came to Canada commissioned to paint the Rockies by the Canadian Pacific Railway.  In 1933, he initiated a summer art school near Banff.  This led to the establishment of the Banff School of Fine Arts, which became the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
In 1952 Leighton and his wife built a home on a property west of Calgary, with a “300-mile view of the Rocky Mountains"  paid for with a cheque written on a page of his sketchbook.
Following his death in 1965, his wife Barbara, already an artist in her own right, enrolled at the Alberta College of Art and Design, where she received a diploma in fibre and metal crafts. At ACAD she found the support of young artists who were attracted to the Leighton history and the artistic and natural beauty of their home and property and her idea of turning it into an Art Centre.
In 1970, Barbara sold half of her quarter-section to invest in the purchase for $1000 of an abandoned 1919 one-room schoolhouse. Her friends pitched in to help restore the building and convert it to an art studio, which became the heart of the Leighton Art Centre’s extensive children’s programs Eventually, weaving and pottery studios and a large greenhouse were added to the house, all in the half-timbered Arts & Crafts style of Leighton’s original design.

* Perhaps I am the only person who has tended to conflate the Leighton Art Centre and the Leighton Artists Colony...