Apr 8, 2014

My Uncle's Childhood Artwork

I never knew my uncle Magnus. In 1976, at the age of 28, he died in a car accident. Unfortunately, death and distance have left me with few connections on my Mom's side of the family, and as a result I have very few mementos that connect me to that history. 

Last week I turned 30. In the midst of my post-birthday cleanup I received a call from my Mom's friend Carol who said she had something she wanted to give me. What she brought was a handmade folder filled with my uncle Magnus's childhood artwork from the mid-1950s. Carol had held onto the folder for years, saving it from the trash when my Mom and her were going through belongings at the ranch.

If having these family mementos wasn't enough, the artwork was actually really amazing. Three pieces (especially) captured my interest. Two paintings, one of the family and one a self-portrait, and a construction paper collage of flowers jumped out at me. The simple details, bright colours, and stark scenes echoed life on the Canadian prairies, and they were actually beautiful pieces of folk art. Forget the fact that they were created by a 7 year old almost 60 years ago - these pieces of art gave me a unique connection to an uncle that I never met.

I took the opportunity to scan some of the pieces and made prints. I framed the two paintings to hang in my place and I surprised my Mom with some of Magnus's artwork too. She was just as surprised to see them, and naturally, it kicked off some discussions about her brother. It just goes to show how certain mementos don't truly find their value until years later. I'm really happy to have them.    

Family portrait ca. 1955 (the little girl is my Mom).

Many of the pieces have teacher's notes and dates on the back like this.

The two framed prints I did of Magnus's paintings.

Magnus's self-portrait ca. 1956

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