David Blackwood

David Lloyd Blackwood, CM, O Ont, printmaker, painter (born 7 November 1941 in Wesleyville [now New-Wes-Valley], NL; died 2 July 2022 in Port Hope, ON). David Blackwood was considered one of Canada's most important etchers (see printmaking). Dubbed “Newfoundland’s gothic master” by the Globe and Mail, Blackwood’s work often depicts the treacherous seafaring life of his native Newfoundland. He taught at Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario, and served as honorary chair of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Career Highlights

Blackwood received a scholarship from the Government of Newfoundland to study printmaking at the Ontario College of Art (now the Ontario of College of Art and Design University) in Toronto. Blackwood graduated in 1963. That same year, the National Gallery of Canada purchased one of his etchings. He also began teaching drawing and painting at Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario, in 1963. He taught there at least one day a week for 25 years. From 1969 to 1975, he was also artist in residence at the University of Toronto's Erindale College in Mississauga, where there is now a gallery named after him.

Although Blackwood maintained his primary residence and studio in Port Hope from 1973 until his death in 2022, his attachment in his subject matter was to his Newfoundland past; particularly to his native Wesleyville (now New-Wes-Valley) on Bonavista Bay, where he also maintained a studio until the late 2010s. Around this setting, Blackwood created an almost epic story celebrating the community's skippers and captains. Blackwood saw himself as part of Newfoundland tradition, as a balladeer who tells a story in visual images.

Blackwood’s works have been included in collections at The Rooms, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, and in the Royal Collection of Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle. In his career, he had more than 90 solo shows and two major retrospectives. He was represented by the Emma Butler Gallery in St. John’s for much of his career.

Organizational Involvement

Blackwood served on the Board of Trustees of the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and the Inuit Art Foundation. In 2000, the AGO received a major gift of prints from David and Anita Blackwood, making the AGO collection the “collection of record” for the artist's work and a centre for the study of his prints. Blackwood was appointed honorary chair of the AGO in 2003.


In 1988, William Gough published a book about Blackwood’s work, The Art of David Blackwood. In 1992, Blackwood received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Memorial University and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Calgary. He was also the subject of the National Film Board production Blackwood (1976), which was nominated for an Academy Award for best short documentary. In 1993, Blackwood was awarded the Government of Canada National Heritage Award as well as the Order of Canada. In 2002, he was appointed to the Order of Ontario.