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Liverpool, England, 1898
Perth-Andover, New Brunswick, 1996
Biography synopsis
Violet Amy Gillett came to Canada with her family in 1908. She entered the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, and funded part of her degree with a scholarship, as well as a commission to paint pathological specimens for the Medical Department of the University of Toronto. She also did illustrations for Doctors Banting and Best at the time of their discovery of insulin. Gillett graduated from the Ontario College of Art and was given a teaching position at the Toronto Central Technical School. In 1926 she received an invitation from the Saint John Vocational School in New Brunswick to take charge of its Art Department. Two years later, she went to the School of Design at the Royal College of Art in London. She held an exhibition at this school, and was granted her Associateship degree (A.R.C.A.) a year early because of her advanced knowledge. Upon her return to Saint John Vocational School she was appointed the Principal of the Department of Fine and Applied Art. She held this position until her retirement in 1948. She is recognized for her devotion to the development of art in the Atlantic provinces, especially New Brunswick, and her encouragement of many young artists. Gillett was also active in the Maritime Art Association, helping both in its formation, acting as secretary for nine years, president in 1946, as well as starting its slide collection of Maritime Artists. She later opened a ceramics shop in Andover with her sister, which became very popular, supplying ceramics to shops all over Canada. Gillett went back to teaching when the shop closed, and completed four murals in the Trinity Anglican Church in Andover. She also wrote two books, "Where the Wild Flowers Grow" and "In the Fields and Woods", complete with her own illustrations. She has received the New Brunswick Teacher's Centennial Award (1976), the Queen's Jubilee Medal (1977), and the Governor General's Medal (1977), and was named a member of the Order of Canada onJune 23, 1976.
Media used
Book illustration
Ontario College of Art & Design (formerly Ontario School of Art)
Royal College of Art, London, England
Private study (under J. E. H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer and Fred Varley)
File & Archive locations
Art Gallery of Ontario - Edward P. Taylor Research Library and Archives
London Public Library, ON
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Toronto Reference Library, ON
University of British Columbia - Fine Arts Library
University of Manitoba - Architecture and Fine Arts Library
Winnipeg Art Gallery, MA - Clara Lander Library
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC
Hamilton Public Library, ON - Local History and Archives Department
Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Writings about
"Artist influenced by Lismer." The Globe and Mail (Toronto) 15 Feb. 1996.
Abell, Walter. Paintings by Artists of the Maritime Provinces. Wolfville, Nova Scotia: The Maritime Art Association, 1935.
Hashey, Mary W., ed. Maritime Artists Vol. 1. Fredericton: Maritime Art Association, 1967.
Henderson, Dorothy. "Maritime Provinces: Halifax." Canadian Art 1 (Apr-May) 1944: 167.
Loomer, L. S. "Painting in Saint John." Atlantic Advocate 48.7 (Mar. 1958): 47, 49, 51-56.
MacDonald, Colin S. The Dictionary of Canadian Artists. (Volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker) Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2009.
Maritime Art Association. Paintings by Artists of the Maritimes: Seventh Annual Exhibition. Halifax: Maritime Art Association, 1942.
McKendry, Blake. A to Z of Canadian Art: Artists and Art Terms. Kingston: B. McKendry, 1997.
New Brunswick Museum. Violet Gillett: A retrospective. Saint John: New Brunswick Museum, 1980.
Niergarth, Kirk. ""What Would He Have Us Do?" Gender and the "Profession" of Artist in New Brunswick in the 1930s and 1940s" Rethinking Professionalism. Ed. Kristina Huneault and Janice Anderson Montreal: McGill-Queens Press, 2012.
Petteys, Chris, et al. Dictionary of Women Artists: An International Dictionary of Women Artists Born Before 1900. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1985.

Writings by
Gillett, Violet. In Fields and Woods. Fredericton: Brunswick Press, 1967.
Gillett, Violet. Where Wild Flowers Grow. Fredericton: Brunswick Press, 1966.
Gillett, Violet. "No Time to Retire." Atlantic Advocate 57.2 (Oct. 1966): 25-8.
Gillett, Violet A. "Maritime Provinces: Maritime Art Association." Canadian Art 1 (Oct-Nov. 1943): 76.
Gillett, Violet A. "Maritime Provinces: Saint John." Canadian Art 1 (Apr-May 1944): 165.

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