MAG Art Collection

Margaret Seelye’s Country School Christmas

Celebrating the Artwork of Margaret Seelye

Margaret Seelye was born in 1915 in Masset, on the Queen Charlotte Islands.  From the West Coast, her family moved to the Great Bend District by the Red Deer River when Seelye was very young to homestead and operate a coal mine.

Margaret was obsessed with making art from an early age – drawing and painting constantly as a child. She began a teaching career in 1934 at a small school in Carroll, near Alix, Alberta before marrying and moving back to the Queen Charlotte Islands for a brief period. After returning to the Red Deer area, her husband died in 1951, leaving her to raise three young children by herself.

While teaching in country schools and raising a family as a widowed mother to 3 children, Margaret began taking occasional art courses through the University of Alberta, Alberta Culture, and Red Deer College. Her love for drawing and printmaking provided her with a means to tell stories of her early childhood and experiences she had while teaching in rural schools.

The works pictured, part of Margaret’s Country School Christmas series, portray Margaret’s fond reminiscences of the highlights of a country school Christmas, such as trimming the school Christmas tree, tuning up for the musical performance school children would have put on for their parents and neighbours, or performing in the school Christmas play. These were all important aspects of the annual Christmas Pageant each school would produce to showcase the students’ creative and cultural talents.

This series of 4 prints really does capture what it would have been like to have been involved in decorating the tree or performing in a play or musical performance!

These are very special works of art because as a monoprint, there’s only one of each image in the edition; unlike other printmaking processes where an artist can print any number of multiple images. These monoprints are in the MAG’s Permanent Collection and were part of a MAG exhibition of Margaret Seelye’s work in 1991.

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