His father’s passion for amateur photography led Murrayville’s Murray Phillips to explore much of Manning Provincial Park through his past seven-plus decades.
And it was his father’s historic connection with the park operators that ultimately led to the local man to creating a commemorative painting of the park being unveiled at the park’s 75th anniversary celebrations this coming Saturday.
“Manning Park has a special place in my heart because [of] my father…,” said Phillips.
“This story goes back a bit,” he elaborated.
“My father, when he retired from Brooklyn, N.Y., moved to the Fraser Valley and was very actively involved in the camera club and taught photography at Fraser Valley College and for Lens and Shutter.”
His favourite place to photograph was Manning Park and so he became a volunteer naturalist there and frequently did slideshows at the outdoor theatre or in Manning Park lodge on wet or chilly evenings.
“So our family of five frequently went to the park, and it became a favourite place for us. His photos used to hang in the lodge and the restaurant. We had many fond memories of our camping trips to the park,” said Phillips, 72.
The Artist for Conservation pointed out that he is just three years younger than Manning Park, located southeast of Hope at the U.S. border.
Since those early days exploring the park as a family, Phillips has continued to frequent the park and often can be seen painting on site.
This past spring, he and fellow artist Terry Isaac taught a workshop there with approximately 30 students in attendance.
“Over the years I have encouraged people to visit this exquisite park – so close to home. While it is well known as a ski resort, to me the real beauty of the park is the Alpine Meadows and the Heather Trail to Three Brothers – it is an exquisite beauty and the trailhead is accessible by car,” he said, adding that from now and for the next month the meadows will be in full bloom.
Knowing of his love for the park, and the history of his dad’s involvement with Manning, Phillips was approached this past January to paint the 75th anniversary painting.
“I was asked to do something that was iconic and part of the image that most people have of Manning,” he elaborated.
“Artist Robert Bateman had produced a beautiful painting for the 50th anniversary, and I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to do this painting.”
Initially he created two smaller paintings that he showed staff. They chose the one showing the Heather Trail and the view looking towards Three Brothers mountain.
“This actually was the piece of land that was originally given to form the park,” he said, noting that he finished the acrylic painting about a month ago on a 30” x 40” canvas.
This coming Saturday, (July 16) at 1 p.m., at Manning Park – by the lodge – is the official unveiling of the original.
Phillip’s painting will be on permanent display in the new Alpine Room, which is presently under construction.
As was the case with the 50th anniversary painting, commemorative prints have also been made of this painting donated by Phillips.
The prints are available for purchase in the country store starting Saturday, with textured high-quality art prints of the commemorative painting, as well as giclee canvas prints of the original painting.
Profits from the sale of the prints go towards Manning Park’s interpretive programs that are scheduled seven days a week in the summer.
“I will be there for signing and also giving a short talk on my family’s involvement with Manning Park,” Phillips said, inviting locals to drive up and share some time with him this weekend.
To learn more about the anniversary celebration, vist www.manningpark.com.
“It is a stunningly beautiful park that is sometimes overlooked by people on the Coast,” Phillips concluded.