Renowned artist Murray Phillips worked on a painting at the West Fine Art Show in 2016. Phillips passed away at Langley Hospice last week. Miranda Gathercole/Langley Times file photo

Renowned B.C. artist Murray Phillips passes

Canadian wilderness painter and founder of the West Fine Art Show died peacefully at Langley Hospice

One of Langley’s most beloved artists has died.

Murray Phillips passed away last week at Langley Hospice after battling a brain tumour.

Phillips was known across the country for his paintings of the Canadian wilderness. He would spend several months each year camping in remote areas of B.C. to paint beautiful landscapes on location.

In addition to his 45-year art career, Phillips also held graduate degrees in theology and cultural anthropology, and for more than 20 years taught at a number of colleges and universities.

“He was probably the kindest guy that I’ve ever met,” said artist Brian Croft, a close friend of Phillips.

“He would help anyone who needed help. He would go out of his way, particularly if somebody was emotionally distraught or there was an illness in the family. He was often the person that people would call, because he had a great empathy and a way of looking at life that seemed to soothe people.”

Croft first met Phillips in 1996, when Phillips ran an art gallery in downtown Langley. Croft was just starting out as an artist, and had brought in a few of his paintings for Phillips to see.

“They weren’t very good paintings, but he was always a very generous guy, he would never say a bad word about anything,” Croft recalled.

“He encouraged me to keep on working. He taught me how to frame it up to keep the costs down, and within a few years, he would say that I was his best selling artist. It was quite a remarkable thing, I would not have probably continued. I probably would have picked up golf clubs or something.”

A few year later, Phillips changed gears and pursued his own art full time. He became very successful in Alberta, and was one of the feature artists at the Calgary Stampede Art Show — western Canada’s largest art event — for several years.

“He transitioned from running the gallery in Langley to a successful business as being an artist, which is very, very hard to do, and not that common,” Croft said.

“There’s lots of artist, but not so many who make a living out of it and do well.”

In recent years Phillip spearheaded his own prestigious event — the West Fine Art Show — where he combined beautiful art with charity fundraisers.

READ MORE: Best in the West

READ MORE: A show to remember

Several of the shows were dedicated to his first wife, Betty, who passed away at Langley Hospice in 2013.

“Neither Betty nor Murray knew very much about hospice, but away they went. And she was there for a period of time. And I think that had a great effect on Murray, and on Betty, because it was a wonderful way for them to go through the last days of her life,” Croft said.

“And so Murray has always been one of the greatest supporters of Langley Hospice, and of course, when we do one of our art shows each year, the proceeds go to Langley Hospice. But I know he’s had a personal commitment to that society as well.”

Phillips went on to raise more than $45,000 for the Langley Hospice Society, both through the art show and privately.

“He was an incredible friend to Hospice, and we will miss him dearly,” said Shannon Todd Booth, communications and funds director with the Langley Hospice Society.

“I think he’s probably the beginning of really our opportunity to engage the public in a broader conversation about the importance of hospice and pallative care in our community. He gave us one of the first vehicles.”

The legacy of the West Fine Art Show continues, with the next show, organized by Croft, set for this weekend at Yorkson Creek Middle School.

READ MORE: West Fine Art Show joins fight against youth homelessness

Croft plans to speak about Phillips and his contributions during the opening reception on Friday.

“This all happened really quickly, so what we’re doing is we’re just going ahead — as I know he’d be pleased to see us do — with the show,” Croft said.

A celebration of life for Phillips is being held today (March 7) at 2 p.m. at White Rock Baptist Church, 1657 140 St.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Search and rescue vessel missing from Agassiz storage site

The eight-metre Spirit of Harrison rescue vessel was believed to be stolen Friday night

Hope stylist holds hair-athon for a good cause

Shayla Ross donating all proceeds of $10 cuts to the food bank

Hope arena turns green for hockey tourney

A second attempt at green ice, with proper ice paint, after food colouring experiment last year

Project Hope celebrates first birthday

Also: lego-mania comes to town, lineup of all-female comedians entertains Friday

New Hope clothing store loses $6,700 after early morning break-in

Broke Buckle Clothing Company owners hold “dirty deeds” sale after loss

Hope stylist holds hair-athon for a good cause

Shayla Ross donating all proceeds of $10 cuts to the food bank

Canadian survivors, supporters rally against proposed ’60s Scoop settlement

Some have accused the government of underestimating the number of survivors

Nordic athlete Arendz to be Canada’s flagbearer at Paralympic closing ceremony

The biathlete and cross-country skier from Hartsville has raced to five medals in Pyeongchang

VIDEO: ‘Big time disappointment’ as Vancouver Giants fall to undermanned Kelowna Rockets

Head coach Jason McKee very unhappy with effort in Giants’ regular season home finale

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Delta South MLA calls high-speed rail study a ‘crazy announcement’

‘You’d be better off to move to Seattle’ than to travel to Vancouver from the Lower Mainland

Most Read