Saturday, January 24, 2015


In our previous blog on the Shaw  Library we mentioned that MALCOLM CAMERON and his wife Babs donated the land for the library, but there is more to this man then just his generosity to the island. Malcolm P. Cameron was born in Los Angeles in 1902 and died in 1975. As we said in the last blog, Malcolm Cameron donated his services as an architect to design the island library.

Return to Yellow Island
After graduating from Cornell University in architecture he practiced his profession as well as drypoint and lithography in New York and Los Angeles. This was followed by lithography, book illustration and sculpture in San Diego County. The unifying thread throughout his life has been drawing, for it was practiced in his various professional pursuits as well as purely for the joy of it.
His career was broadened with travels to Europe, Mexico, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia.

In 1962 he and Babs (Margaret) moved to Shaw Island.* "From the time of their arrival, Malcolm was fascinated with the quality of light and atmosphere in this area. The low keyed values, the soft edges of forms, the moods from gay to somber were all so different from Mexico, the Malacca Straits and the Mediterranean. A new challenge was presented, that of catching and recording this particular quality of light and it took four years of living among these islands to gain full awareness of their serenity. This element of serenity so rare in today's hectic world presented an obligation to state, that together with the shocking, the ugly and the violent, this too exists. After much time and many studies he then offered this folio of twelve drawings which represent his own feeling of the mood of the islands."

“The subject matter of these drawings is largely in the San Juan Archipelago with others in Canadian waters. Whether of broad sweep of island seascape, the solid masses of dark forest edging prismatic cliffs, or the quiet dignity of a single tree, the mood and essence have been the ever-sought priceless ingredient. The drawings are not literal nor are they realism in the sense of painstaking delineation of from and texture of physical objects. Rather, the hope and intent is that they be truthful and real in expressing the feeling of these inland seas.”
(Darvill’s Rare Prints- Orcas Island)

Blind Island Abandoned
Scattered around the island one can glimpse a few of these lovely art works: in the Library, at the Community and once in awhile in someone’s home.  About 20 years ago I was cleaning out a closet in the monastery which had paintings and blueprints from the original building (now monastery).  I came across a sort of portfolio made of a lovely, light wood, perhaps 22x30 inches, tied with a thin leather strap. 

Before I even opened the case I was sure I had made a great discovery and was fairly certain what it was. To this day I have not a clue why this feeling came over me. It was a  complete set (minus the “Reefnetters”) of Malcolm’s drawings.

Several I have never seen anywhere else are of Henry Hoffman's lumber mill here on Shaw.  Significant to us, as Henry did many odd jobs for us over the years and when we built our new chapel in 1997 he milled the wood for the beams inside and the lumber for the outside-  his last big job on Shaw.

Straits Island

*In her own right, Babs was a very talented sculptor.  Her "Seal"  rests in our Chapel Japanese garden and we have a collection of her angels- which Islanders "fight"over when on the market.
Seal Sculpture in Monastery Chapel Garden
Bab's Angels- with lamb & violin

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