Title and statement of responsibility area
B.C. and Jessie Binnings fonds
General material designation
- Graphic material
- Textual record
Other title information
Title statements of responsibility
- Source of title proper: Title based on contents of fonds
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Edition statement of responsibility
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Statement of scale (cartographic)
Statement of projection (cartographic)
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Statement of scale (architectural)
Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
- Bertram Charles (B.C.) Binning
Physical description area
54 cm of textual records
1 decorative box
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Bertram Charles (B.C.) Binning was born on February 10, 1909 in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Due to an illness at a young age, he spent much of his time drawing in seclusion. His passion for art and architecture resulted in his enrolment in 1927 at the-then Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts. After spending time in the United States, in 1933 Binning was appointed to a staff position with the Vancouver School of Art. Later in 1938, B.C. Married Jessie Wyllie, the daughter of a Vancouver businessman. In 1949, he was transferred to the University Of British Columbia School Of Architecture. Soon after, he founded the Department of Fine Arts at UBC, which he headed for over twenty-five years.
With his appointment to the department of Fine Arts came a shift in his artistic direction. Whereas pre-1948 he had established himself as an internationally recognized architect, post-1948 he felt himself drawn towards expressing his creativity in oil painting. Building upon his architectural background, Binning often painted large complementary mosaic murals for various buildings and was particularly inspired by ships, marinas and seascapes in general; these were recurring themes for most of his artistic life.
The Binnings took the first of many visits to Japan in 1958. It was there that B.C. felt particularly inspired by the Japanese art and architecture he witnessed; these were a vehicle for a new and lengthy direction for his future work. While in Japan, B.C. and Jessie forged a deep relationship with Bishop Kojo Sakamoto (1875-1969), the 37th Superintendent Priest of the Kiyoshi Kojin Seicho-ji temple. A skilled calligrapher, Sakamoto’s work was influenced by colleague and friend Tomioka Tessai (1836-1924), a talented painter and calligrapher in his own right. The Binnings’ relationship with Sakamoto resulted in over a decade of frequent correspondence between Sakamoto, his family, and other Japanese friends with both B.C. and Jessie. After Sakamoto opened a successful Tessai exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1961, B.C. convinced him to contribute his own calligraphy for an exclusive exhibit that was eventually opened in September 1966 at the Fine Arts Gallery at the University of British Columbia.
Health problems prevented Binning from actively contributing to the art community in the early 1970’s, but by this time had built up a solid repertoire of pieces that have made their mark on the Canadian art scene. After his death on March 16th 1976, Jessie continued her role as a voice and representative for her husband’s work until her own death on May 25th, 2007. Her last public presence was as a consultant for an exhibit of B.C.’s work at the Vancouver Art Gallery that ran from January through April 2007.
Name of creator
Scope and content
Fonds consists of records related to the Binnings’ correspondence with (predominantly) friends and colleagues overseas in Japan from 1959 to 1971, including Bishop Kojo Sakamoto and members of his family. Mostly composed of personal letters written by hand, several letters are painted using calligraphy. Other records include program brochures and news clippings for exhibits in Japan and North America, and scrapbooks assembled by the Binnings. These either commemorate various visits they took to Japan or of visits their Japanese friends took to Canada. Fonds is divided into three series:
- Sakamoto Printed Exhibit Matter
Dates on envelopes are often very faint and hard to read.
Immediate source of acquisition
Records bequeathed to the Museum of Anthropology Archives by the estate of Jessie Isobel Binning in May 2007.
Original order maintained and variances from this principle are noted.
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Script of material
Language and script note
Many records in the fonds are written in Japanese; some have translations in English.
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Generated finding aid
The University of British Columbia Archives has a B.C. Binning fonds which contains material predominantly related to his role as professor in the faculty of Arts at UBC. The Museum of Anthropology has also received a donation of materials from the Binning Estate; predominately Japanese ceramics and scrolls from Kojo Sakamoto.
No further accruals are expected
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Updated December 8, 2015 (pdf of finding aid attached)