This year for my birthday I was treated to a delicious tea time at the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel. Delicious finger sandwiches and cakes were served on a silver tower in a dimly lit ballroom with tall ceilings. Pinks and hues of blue-green set the tone of the room – art deco meets Marie Antoinette. To celebrate the occasion we ordered Lavender Earl Grey and Moet & Chandon Champagne. I must warn you that this is no cheap occasion and be prepared to treat yourself to a luxurious lunch with a girlfriend or two. The hotel also has packages where you can have afternoon tea and then head over to the Vancouver Art Gallery across the street to take in the latest exhibition. I was fortunate enough to visit the Surrealist Exhibition on now, supposedly, one of the best that Canada has featured.
Upon exiting the lobby to head out to the Vancouver Art Gallery a framed photo in the hallway, across from Prada, caught my eye. It was a black and white “before” photo of the old Vancouver Hotel. Immediately, I recognized this as a building that appeared in my Great Uncle’s historical book, The Lady of Culzean. This book was about a woman, Lady Constance Fawkes, who came to Mayne Island from their Scottish Castle (don’t worry, they brought the French furnishings). She and her husband, Col. Fawkes, became local celebrities in the lower mainland and dear friends of my Great Uncle Jack (/John). After her husband had died, he explained in the book, that he and Lady Constance decided to move away for a year and live in the Vancouver Hotel, the very hotel that I too had enjoyed afternoon tea (altered by a series of renovations of course).
My final University year is soon approaching and I have the opportunity to study the Lady Constance and Col. Fawkes who contributed to the art history of Mayne Island, as well as London, England. In fact, a “famous” art critic, known as Carnacky, had commented on Col. Fawkes’ work, saying that if he dedicated more of his time to Portraiture he could easily be the best in England!
The man painted up to 400 paintings so it is amazing that he is not well known in the lower mainland at all. Col. Fawkes also owned 2 original J.M.W Turners and painted copies of his work as well. Uncle Jack tells of a shocking moment when he delivered the Turners via public transportation to the Vancouver Art Gallery with no means of protection for him nor the paintings!
|Vancouver Art Gallery – Surrealist Exhibition|