Ignite Imagination The Campaign For OCAD University

Hugh Mackenzie Memorial Scholarship

Hugh Mackenzie graduated as a member of the Class of 1950 at the Ontario College of Art. He returned to “the College” as an instructor in 1969 and remained there until 1991. Following that “retirement”, he continued to teach and to paint into his 90s.

Mackenzie’s early working years included a two-year stint as a technical illustrator for the Avro Aircraft Company, where he illustrated manuals for the Avro Arrow. After a couple of changes of jobs and locales, he settled in Toronto in 1967. There, he exhibited new works regularly in solo shows as well as with colleagues. His early high realist egg tempera works found a ready audience and led to several portrait commissions, most notably the state portrait of the Right Honourable Lester B. Pearson. He took up etching in the mid-1970s. That medium and water colour freed Mackenzie from the exacting demands of egg tempera, helping him grow from the young painter focussed on the product, to a mature artist finding meaning in the act of painting itself.

As an artist, Mackenzie created his place in the Canadian art world though his constant search for the essential form. "I am looking for something elusive”, he said. “I want people to be able to reach for it without being able to grab it.” For Mackenzie, that elusive thing was to be found “in the marriage of the figurative and the abstract”.

Teaching was the other focus of Mackenzie’s elliptical career. In this realm, he was surprised to find both success and enjoyment, especially when he moved away from the lectern to engage with his students as colleagues in this endeavour called art. Many former students have shared their memories of Mackenzie’s humour, wisdom and lovingly tough encouragement. He believed in them and helped them to believe in themselves. Though he received awards for his work with young artists, Mackenzie measured his success in the relationships that he developed with his students, many of whom became respected colleagues and life-long friends.

He was pleased to think that he could continue to support young artists as they launched themselves into the world of art that he so loved.

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