After her much publicized appointment in 1945 as Canada’s only female official war artist to be sent overseas, Molly Lamb Bobak devoted herself to her art and to teaching art. She drew or painted almost every day of her life, and her work has featured in more than fifty solo and 150 group exhibitions. In 1993 the MacKenzie Art Gallery in Regina organized a major touring retrospective of her work. Her art documenting women’s experiences during the Second World War was included in notable travelling exhibitions such as Canvas of War (2000), which was dedicated to Canada’s war artists. More recent exhibitions and publications have considered the full range of her work, in oil, watercolour, printmaking, and illustration.

 

 

Key Exhibitions

 

Official War Artists, 1945
Official war artists, 1945, photographer unknown. From left to right: Campbell Tinning, Orville Fisher, George Pepper, Charles Comfort, William Ogilvie, E.J. Hughes, Molly Lamb Bobak, Col. George Stanley, Bruno Bobak, Alex Colville, A.Y. Jackson, and Harry O. McCurry at the National Gallery of Canada.

 

1942

Vancouver Art Gallery. First solo show for the recently graduated artist before her enlistment in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps.

1944

Canadian Army Art Exhibition, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Wins second prize, which helps her campaign to be appointed Canada’s first official woman war artist.

 

Artes Gráficas do Canadá, Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro. First international exhibition.

1945–46

Exhibition of Canadian War Art, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

1946

Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour. Became a member that year. 

1947

Canadian Women Artists, Riverside Museum, New York.

 

Canadian Group of Painters, Art Gallery of Toronto.

1950

New Design Gallery, Vancouver. First solo show in a commercial gallery.

1951

Bienal de São Paulo, Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo, Brazil.

 

Festival of Britain, London, U.K.

1953

German Industries Fair, Berlin.

 

Molly and Bruno Bobak, Holy Trinity Memorial Hall, New Westminster, B.C. First time she and her husband show together in a “two-man” exhibition.

 

Molly and Bruno, Gordon Smith and Others, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. First feature as part of so-called British Columbia School.

1954–55

An Exhibition of Canadian Painting, Pakistan, India, Ceylon, organized by the National Gallery of Canada.

1957

2nd Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Painting, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

1959

Paintings and Sculptures of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Portland Art Museum.

 

3rd Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Painting, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

 

Bienal de São Paulo, Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo, Brazil.

 

International Print Exhibition, Lugano, Switzerland.

 

Canadian Women Painters, New York. 

1960

Vancouver Art Gallery. Second solo exhibition at British Columbia’s premier public institution.

1961

Art Centre, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton. First solo show at UNB organized by Bruno Bobak.

 

4th Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Painting, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. 

1963

Exhibition of Paintings by Molly Lamb and Bruno Bobak, New Brunswick Museum, Saint John and Mount Allison University, Sackville.

 

3 Years Work: Norway, England, Canada, New Design Gallery, Vancouver.

1964

Contemporary Canadian Drawings from the National Gallery of Canada (touring exhibition).

1965

Canadian Prints and Drawings Exhibition, Commonwealth Arts Festival, Cardiff, Wales.

1966

Artists of Atlantic Canada, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

 

Molly Lamb B. and Bruno Bobak, Art Centre, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton.

 

Solo exhibition at Dalhousie University Art Gallery, Halifax.

1967

Expo 1967, Atlantic Provinces Pavilion, Montreal.

1968

Molly Lamb Bobak, Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery, London, U.K. First international solo exhibition. 

1970

Watercolours by Molly Lamb Bobak, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton. First solo exhibition to tour the Atlantic provinces. 

1975

From Women’s Eyes: Women Painters in Canada, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, ON. 

1976

Through Canadian Eyes: Trends and Influences in Canadian Art, 1815–1965, Glenbow-Alberta Institute, Calgary.

1977

The Queen Comes to New Brunswick: Paintings and Drawings by Molly Lamb Bobak, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton (touring solo exhibition). 

1978

A Terrible Beauty: The Art of Canada at War, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, ON (touring exhibition).

1983

Vancouver Art and Artists, 1931–1983, Vancouver Art Gallery.

 

The Canadian Landscape: Paintings Selected from the Ontario Heritage Foundation, Firestone Art Collection, Canada House Cultural Centre Gallery, London, U.K.

 

Printmaking in British Columbia, 1889–1983, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Toured.

1984

Reflections of a Province: New Brunswick Bicentennial Exhibition, Gallery 78, Fredericton. 

1985

Aspects of Fredericton: Views of the Bicentennial City, Gallery 78, Fredericton.

1993

Molly Lamb Bobak: A Retrospective, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina. Touring exhibition.

2000

Canvas of War: Masterpieces from the Canadian War Museum. Travelling exhibition jointly produced by the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa-Gatineau.

2004

A Modern Life: Art and Design in British Columbia, 1945–1960, Vancouver Art Gallery.

2015

The Artist Herself: Self-Portraits by Canadian Historical Women Artists, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, ON. Nationally touring exhibition.  

2018

Molly Lamb Bobak: Talk of the Town, Burnaby Art Gallery, B.C.

 

 

 

Writings & Illustrations by Molly Lamb Bobak

Bobak, Molly Lamb. “I Love the Army.” Canadian Art 2, no. 4 (April 1945): 147–49.

 

———. “Leisure to Paint.” Canadian Art 16, no. 2 (May 1959): 101–7, 147.

 

Molly Lamb sketching at Volendam, Netherlands
Molly Lamb sketching at Volendam, Netherlands, September 12, 1945, photographer unknown. 

———. Wild Flowers of Canada: Impressions and Sketches of a Field Artist. Toronto: Pagurian Press, 1978.

 

———. Lamb’s Drawings Are Published in “New World” / A Visit to Toronto, August 30, 1943. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, 2003.

 

———. Molly Lamb Bobak Slide Collection. Winnipeg: University of Manitoba, 2003.

 

Fitch, Sheree, illustrations by Molly Lamb Bobak. Merry-Go-Day. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1991.

 

———. Toes in My Nose and Other Poems. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 1991.

 

Itani, Frances, illustrations by Molly Lamb Bobak. Linger by the Sea. Fredericton: Brunswick Press, 1979.

 

Lumsden, Ian G. The Queen Comes to New Brunswick: Paintings and Drawings by Molly Lamb Bobak. Fredericton: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, 1977.

 

Scoones, Anny, illustrations by Molly Lamb and Bruno Bobak. Home: Tales of a Heritage Farm. Sidney, B.C.: Hedgerow Press, 2004.

 

 

Exhibition Catalogues & Brochures

1963 Exhibition of Paintings by Molly Lamb and Bruno Bobak. Saint John: New Brunswick Museum, 1963.

 

A Personal Choice: The Roy L. Heenan Collection / Un Choix Personnel: La Collection de Roy L. Heenan. Fredericton: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, 2007.

 

Allain, Marie-Hélène, and Ian G. Lumsden. Vision 20/20: Marie-Hélène Allain, Bruno Bobak, Molly Lamb Bobak. Fredericton: Gallery 78, 1996.

 

Bloom, Glen A., Emily Falvey, Benjamin Gianni, and Catherine Sinclair. The Contemporary Art Collection / The Firestone Collection of Canadian Art. Ottawa: Ottawa Art Gallery, 2008.

 

Cover of the exhibition publication The Artist Herself: Self-Portraits by Canadian Historical Women (2015)
Cover of the exhibition publication The Artist Herself: Self-Portraits by Canadian Historical Women / L‘artiste elle-même : autoportraits de femmes artistes au Canada (2015). 

Boutilier, Alicia, and Tobi Bruce. The Artist Herself: Self-Portraits by Canadian Historical Women Artists / L’artiste elle-même : autoportraits de femmes artistes au Canada. Kingston and Hamilton, ON: Agnes Etherington Art Centre and Art Gallery of Hamilton, 2015.

 

Bruno Bobak: From the University Collection / Molly Lamb Bobak: From the University Collection. Fredericton: University of New Brunswick Art Centre, 1979.

 

Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture: Canadian School. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1957.

 

Centre Culturel Canadien. Le paysage Canadien: Collection Firestone / Exposition Organisée par la Fondation du patrimoine Ontarien. Paris: Centre Culturel Canadien, 1984.

 

Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery. Molly Lamb Bobak. London: Commonwealth Institute Art Gallery (Great Britain), 1968.

 

Contemporary Canadian Drawings from the National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1964.

 

Donaldson, Marjory, and Molly Lamb Bobak. Molly Lamb Bobak’s New Silkscreen Print, The Ball. Fredericton: University of New Brunswick Art Centre, 1988.

 

Farr, Dorothy, and Natalie Luckyj. From Women’s Eyes: Women Painters in Canada. Kingston, ON: Agnes Etherington Art Centre, 1975.

 

Firestone Art Collection. Toronto: Ontario Heritage Foundation, McGraw-Hill, 1978.

 

Fleming, Marnie. Is There a There There? Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2007.

 

Foss, Brian, and Cindy Richmond. Molly Lamb Bobak: A Retrospective. Regina: MacKenzie Art Gallery, 1993.

 

Hubbard, R.H. The National Gallery of Canada Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1957.

 

McMann, Evelyn de Rostaing. Royal Canadian Academy of Arts / Académie royale des arts du Canada: Exhibitions and Members, 1880–1979. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1981.

 

Molly Lamb Bobak, RCA, OC: Retrospective Loan Exhibition. Montreal: Galerie Eric Klinkhoff, 2014.

 

Molly Lamb painting in London, England
Molly Lamb painting in London, England, July 12, 1945, photograph by Karen Margaret Hermiston, Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa.

Molly Lamb Bobak. Fredericton: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, 1970.

 

Murray, Joan. Canadian Artists of the Second World War. Oshawa, ON: The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 1981.

 

New Brunswick Collects / le Nouveau-Brunswick Collectionée: Gary H. Stairs & Janet Stairs. Fredericton: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, 2005.

 

Nine New Brunswick Artists / Neuf Artistes du Nouveau Brunswick / A Travelling Exhibition Organized and Circulated in New Brunswick by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. Fredericton: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, 1973.

 

Oliver, Dean F., and Laura Brandon (foreword J.L. Granatstein). Canvas of War: Painting the Canadian Experience, 1914 to 1945. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2001.

 

Robertson, Heather, ed. A Terrible Beauty: The Art of Canada at War. Toronto: J. Lorimer, 1977.

 

Ten West Coast Painters—The Art of Emily Carr (for the Stratford Festival of the Arts Exhibition). London, U.K.: Hunter Printing, 1960.

 

Themes of Molly Lamb Bobak. Fredericton: University of New Brunswick Art Centre, 1979.

 

Trepanier, Esther, Gemey Kelly, and Emily Falvey. Full Space: Modern Art from the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art / Plein Espace: l’Art Moderne de la Collection Firestone d’Art Canadien. Ottawa: Ottawa Art Gallery, 2004.

 

Tuele, Nicholas. British Columbia Women Artists, 1885­–1985. Victoria: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 1985.

 

Watercolours by Molly Lamb Bobak. Fredericton: Beaverbrook Art Gallery, 1971.

 

 

Critical Writing

Bouchard, Jo-Anne. “Peintures de guerre,” entrevue avec Bruno Bobak, Vie des arts 39, no. 158 (Spring 1995): 32–34. Featuring reproductions of Molly Lamb Bobak’s work.

 

Gossage, Carolyn. Double Duty: Sketches and Diaries of Molly Lamb Bobak, Canadian War Artist. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1992.

 

Leswick, Rick. “They Also Serve: Canadian Women War Artists Paint a Picture of Life in Service.” Esprit de Corps 21, no. 7 (August 2014): 38–45.

 

McIntosh, Terresa. “Other Images of War: Canadian Women War Artists of the First and Second World Wars.” MA thesis, Carleton University, Ottawa, ON, 1990. ProQuest (MM68871).

 

Schaap, Tanya. “‘Girl Takes Drastic Step’: Molly Lamb Bobak’s W110278—The Diary of a CWAC.” In Working Memory: Women and Work in World War II, edited by Marlene Kadar and Jeanne Perreault, 171–90. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2015.

 

 

Television

Murray Kinloch, Desmond Pacey, Bruno Bobak, and Molly Lamb Bobak at Lamb Bobak’s solo exhibition at the University of New Brunswick Art Centre, 1961
Left to right: Murray Kinloch, Desmond Pacey, Bruno Bobak, and Molly Lamb Bobak at Lamb Bobak’s solo exhibition at the University of New Brunswick Art Centre, Fredericton, 1961, photographer unknown. 

Beginning in the mid-1950s in Vancouver, Molly Lamb Bobak appeared as an instructor delivering art lessons that were broadcast by local radio and television stations. She continued to do radio and television work in British Columbia and, in the mid-1960s, in New Brunswick. Recordings of these broadcasts may be found in the archives of CHSJ in Saint John, New Brunswick. 

 

Davidson, Joyce. Tabloid. CBC Television, September 12, 1957. 

 

Mesley, Wendy. The National. CBC Television, November 29, 1993. 

 

 

Further Reading

Molly Lamb Bobak was interviewed and written about extensively during her lifetime in several newspapers and magazines across Canada. The National Gallery of Canada has an artist file that contains four large folders filled with clippings. The Canadian War Museum similarly has a three-volume file containing correspondence among Lamb Bobak, H.O. McCurry, and A.Y. Jackson, along with other articles and documentation. The Bobaks donated their personal archive to Library and Archives Canada, which also has an extensive fonds and original artwork. Numerous other public institutions have documentation and archival material available for consultation. The Canadian Women’s Artist History Initiative at Concordia University has bibliographic and biographical information accessible on their website. Below is a selection of writing about Molly Lamb Bobak that is available online and in various library and archives.

 

Amos, Robert. “Artist Broke New Ground in the War.” Times Colonist (Victoria), March 4, 2004.

 

———. Harold Mortimer-Lamb: The Art Lover. Victoria: TorchWood Editions, 2013.

 

Anderson, Donna. “Author Unlocks Wartime Vault for Service Woman’s Art, Diary.” Vancouver Sun, November 7, 1992.

 

Baele, Nancy. “Man, Wife Offer Contrasting Approach.” Ottawa Citizen, November 1, 1985.

 

———. “War Artist’s Sketches Reveal Irreverent Eye.” Ottawa Citizen, November 15, 1992.

 

Bauer, Nancy. “Molly Lamb Bobak, a Painter of Silent Space.” Arts Atlantic 9, no. 1 (1989): 35–38.

 

Bentley, Allen. “Molly Lamb Bobak and Hugh MacKinnon: Stained-Glass Windows: Class of 1936.” Arts Atlantic 10, no. 1 (Spring–Summer, 1990): 19–20.

 

Conde, Valerie. “Official Army Woman Artist.” Windsor Daily Star, August 25, 1945.

 

Fleisher, Pat. “Atlantic Provinces Journal.” ArtMagazine (Canada) 7, no. 25 (March 1976): 21–36.

 

Gard, Peter. “Molly L. Bobak: A Retrospective. Memorial University Art Gallery. St. John’s.” Arts Atlantic 13, no. 3 (Winter 1995): 9–10.

 

Gillis, Raina-Clair. “Artistic Impressions of War.” Canadian Military Journal 6, no. 3 (Autumn 2005): 75–80.

 

Gossage, Carolyn. Carolyn Gossage Fonds, 1969–2002. University of British Columbia Archives, Vancouver.

 

———. Great Coats and Glamour Boots: Canadian Women at War, 1939-1945. Revised Edition. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2001.

 

Grant, Brigid. “An Interview with Molly Lamb Bobak.” Arts Atlantic 13, no. 3 (Winter 1995): 36–39.

 

Heller, Jules, and Nancy Heller. North American Women Artists of the Twentieth Century: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Garland, 1995.

 

Jensen, Philip. “‘As Only a Girl Could See It’: The War Art of Molly Lamb Bobak (First Woman to be Officially Designated as a Canadian War Artist [World War II]).” Beaver: Exploring Canada’s History 83, no. 5 (November 2003): 8–14.

 

Larocque, Yves. La Peinture Militaire Canadienne de la Deuxieme Guerre Mondiale. Montreal: University of Montreal, 1986.

 

“A Loyalist Bastion Bathed in Light—Molly Bobak’s Fredericton.” Globe and Mail, April 10, 1982.

 

Lumsden, Ian Gordon. “Bobak, Molly Joan.” The Canadian Encyclopedia. Toronto: Historical Foundation of Canada, 2001.

 

MacDonald, Colin S., ed. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists. Vol. 1–8. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2009.

 

Mersereau, Bob. “Just to Live Here and Be Friends: Fredericton’s Two Bobak Artists.” Atlantic Insight 10, no. 3 (March 1988): 13–17.

 

“Molly Lamb Bobak.” Canadian Art 18, no. 1 (January 1961): 14–15.

 

Murray, Joan. “Interview with Molly Lamb Bobak.” Canadian Collector 13, no. 5 (September–October 1978): 102–3.

 

Newlands, Anne, and Judith Parker, eds. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists. Vol. 9. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2009.

 

Nowlan, Alden. “Learning About the Bobaks: Notes on Two Personal, Confessional Artists.” Saturday Night 90, no. 5 (October 1975): 23–28.

 

———. “Molly Bobak: A Gift for Finding Joy.” Atlantic Insight 3 (November 1981): 72–74.

 

Paquin, Nycole. “Aquarelles de Molly Lamb Bobak: un Art de Prestidigitation.” Vie des Arts 32, no. 103 (March 1988): 56–58.

 

Installation view of Molly Lamb Bobak: Talk of the Town
Installation view of Molly Lamb Bobak: Talk of the Town, Burnaby Art Gallery, January 19–April 8, 2018, photograph by the Burnaby Art Gallery. 
Installation view of Molly Lamb Bobak: Talk of the Town
Installation view of Molly Lamb Bobak: Talk of the Town, Burnaby Art Gallery, January 19–April 8, 2018, photograph by the Burnaby Art Gallery. 

Prakash, A.K. Independent Spirit: Early Canadian Women’s Art. Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books, 2008.

 

Ross, Malcolm Mackenzie. The Arts in Canada: A Stock-Taking at Mid-Century. Toronto: Macmillan, 1959.

 

Scott, Melanie. “War’s Enduring Artistic Legacy.” Ottawa Citizen, February 11, 2000.

 

Shadbolt, Doris. “Molly and Bruno Bobak.” Canadian Art 9, no. 3 (Spring 1952): 122–26.

 

Shadbolt, Jack. Jack Shadbolt Fonds. 1934–1990. University of British Columbia Rare Books and Special Collections, Vancouver.

 

Smith, Stuart A. “Molly Lamb Bobak.” Canadian Art 22, no. 5 (November–December 1965): 36–37.

 

Tousley, Nancy. “Retrospective: MacKenzie Art Gallery; Regina, Saskatchewan; Travelling Exhibit.” Canadian Art 10 (Winter 1993): 15.

 

———. “War Through the Eyes of Two Artists.” Ottawa Citizen, October 5, 1998.

 

Woloschuk, Michael. “Canada’s War Art Comes Out From the Cold.” Ottawa Citizen, March 6, 1997.

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