Godwin, Ted (1933-)

Ted Godwin's “Said the Spider to the Fly”, 1965; oil, acrylic on canvas.
Saskatchewan Arts Board

Born in Calgary, Alberta, on August 13, 1933, Ted Godwin graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology and Art in 1955. He joined the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus in 1964 to teach in what was then known as the Faculty of Art. Major influences in his early career included artists John Ferren, Jules Olitski, Barnett Newman and Lawrence Alloway, with whom he studied at the Emma Lake Artists’ Workshops from 1959 to 1965. A member of the group of Regina painters later known as the Regina Five, Godwin broke onto the Canadian art scene with the group’s 1961 exhibition, Five Painters from Regina, at The National Gallery of Canada. Throughout his teaching and professional careers, he has exhibited his paintings at public and commercial galleries across Canada and in the United Kingdom. His works are represented in major public collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Canada Council Art Bank, the CBC, and the University of Regina.

Honoured for his work by the Royal Canadian Academy, to which he was elected in 1974, he was, along with other Regina Five members Ken Lochhead, Ron Bloore, Doug Morton and Art McKay, awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the University of Regina in 2001. That same year he received the Alberta College of Art Award of Excellence. Retired from teaching since 1985, Godwin maintains an active professional career. His most recent exhibition, The Newfoundland Suite, opened in 2003 in Calgary. His book, Messages from the Real World: A Professional Handbook for the Emerging Artist (republished in 2002 as The Studio Handbook for Working Artists: A Survival Manual), won a 1999 Saskatchewan Book Award. Not unlike the writer Virginia Woolf, whose collection of essays A Room of One’s Own (1929) points up the need for the woman writer to have a dedicated space of her own in which to create literary works, Godwin particularly recognizes the emerging artist’s need of a room of his or her own, a space “where you make art and only art.” Godwin is also the author of Lower Bow: A Celebration of Wilderness, Art and Fishing (exhibition catalogue, 1992), and Ted Godwin: The Tartan Years 1967–1976 (exhibition catalogue, 1999). While Godwin has spent most of his life in the Canadian prairies, his paintings reflect a rich thematic palette of styles and subjects. His most recent landscapes, some of which are large works, portray the play of light on water in the Canadian forest wilderness.