Kate Craig

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Kate Craig
Kate Craig (1947–2002).jpg
Born(1947-09-15)September 15, 1947
DiedJuly 23, 2002(2002-07-23) (aged 54)
EducationDalhousie University, (1963-1966)
Known forPerformance art, video art, mail art

Kate Craig (September 15, 1947 – July 23, 2002) was a pioneering Canadian video and performance artist. She was a founding member of the artist-run centre the Western Front,[1] where she supported the video and performance works of many artists while producing her own body of work, she is known for her performances as 'Lady Brute' and for her video works.


Catherine Shand Craig was born on September 15, 1947, in Victoria, British Columbia,[2] she was the third child of Sidney Osborne Craig (née Scott) and Charles Edward Craig. Her parents divorced in 1956. In 1960, her mother married Douglas Shadbolt, an architect and brother of the painter Jack Shadbolt;[3] the family moved to Montreal and then to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where Craig attended Dalhousie University (1961).

Craig met artist Eric Metcalfe in Victoria and they married in 1969,[4] they moved to Vancouver, where, along with friends and fellow artists Michael Morris, Vincent Trasov and Glenn Lewis, they bought the space that became the Western Front in the Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver.[5][6])

Craig and Metcalfe separated in 1973, but continued to work together on collaborative projects; that year, Craig met artist Hank Bull. As a couple they worked on projects with Metcalfe, Glenn Lewis, Patrick Ready, Margaret Dragu and many others. Craig established and curated the Western Front's Artist-in Residence video program from 1977 to 1993.

In 1980/81 Craig and Bull traveled through Indonesia, India, Africa and Europe performing Around The World in Over 365 Days. Craig married Hank Bull in 1990.

After retiring from her position as curator of Media Arts at Western Front in 1993, she spent the late 1990s preparing for a major retrospective of her work at the Vancouver Art Gallery, entitled "Skin".[7] Craig's "idea of performance was always informed by community and based on thinking life is an art project" even at end of her life,[8] she died of cancer in 2002.[9]

Performance art[edit]

Lady Brute[edit]

Eric Metcalfe was a fine arts student at the University of Victoria and Craig was drawn to his circle of artists and performers. In 1969, he created a mail art persona called "Dr. Brute", and Craig became "Lady Brute"; this collaborative project created the fictional world of "Brutopia." Their collection of leopard material filled this world and the characters examined the foibles of western society. In 1972, Lady Brute appeared as the "Picture of the Week" in an issue of FILE magazine and marched in the Victoria Day parade in Victoria, B.C. Her performances were usually informal, happening in the real world rather than on stage. She would attend an opening or a dinner in her leopard regalia and that was the performance. In 1974 she performed "Flying Leopard" in Vancouver at Cates Park, and again on Hornby Island. In 1975 she produced her first video, "Skins: Lady Brute presents her Leopardskin Wardrobe".[10] In that same year she and Metcalfe curated the exhibition "Spots Before Your Eyes" at the Western Front and A Space. Lady Brute continued to make appearances and participate in exhibitions through the 1970s.

  • 1974 – Dr. and Lady Brute attended Hollywood Decadence and Art’s Birthday, Elk's Lodge, Los Angeles, performing with the Brute Saxes.
  • 1975 – A guest appearance with the Hummer Sisters in Toronto
  • 1975 – Ace Space Show at the Western Front
  • 1976 – Dr. and Lady Brute, an evening of film video, slides and performance at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Performance groups[edit]

In 1974, Craig was a founding member of the "ettes", a women's "post feminist" performance group,[11] they performed as the "Peanettes" during Mr. Peanut's campaign for mayor of Vancouver, they also performed as the Coconettes and the Vignettes in 1975. She was a founder of the Lux Radio Players in 1974, a group involved in the collaborative writing and production of radio plays performed for live audiences and broadcast throughout North America over community radio stations until 1977,[11] she was also a founding member of The Canadian Shadow Players in 1976, performing nationally and internationally until 1986.

Lux Radio Players[edit]

  • 1974 – A Clear Cut Case at Western Front
  • 1975 – A Bite Tonight, Planet of the Whales (for the sendoff party, first Green Peace Anti-Whaling expedition); and The Raw and the Plucked by Mary Beth Knechtel
  • 1976 – Habitart, or How to Live with Your Just Desserts, commissioned by the Vancouver Art Gallery for the Habitat Festival
  • 1976 – The Thief of Gladbag, commissioned and performed for the Judy Lamarsh Show on CBC Radio, at the Hotel Vancouver
  • 1977 – Weather or Naught at the Western Front


  • 1974 – performance with the Mr. Peanut's mayoral campaign


  • 1975 – Amy Vanderbilt Valentine Debutante's Ball at the Western Front


  • 1975 – Ace Space Show with Lady Brute at the Western Front

Canadian Shadow Players[edit]

  • 1976 – The Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, a commission by the City of Vancouver for the Habitat Festival, the production tours
  • 1977 – The Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
  • 1978 – Vis-à-vis, a commission by The Music Gallery, Toronto, touring to Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, Vancouver and Victoria
  • 1982 – Aka Nada, a commission by The Music Gallery, Toronto, touring to Montreal, Ottawa,Berlin, Santa Barbara, Innsbruck, and Lienz, Austria
  • 1985 – Corpus Collossum, funded by the Department of External Affairs and the Holland Festival
  • 1986 – The Pataphysics of Umbrology at the Centre for Creative Music, Mills College, Oakland, California


  • 1973 - German T.V. Dinner, a performance by Western Front for German TV Network, film directed by Dr. W. von Bonin [11]
  • 1974 – Flying Leopard in Vancouver at Cates Park and on Hornby Island[11]
  • 1975 – Appeared as a Supreme Court judge in Errol’s Errors, Byron Black
  • 1976 - 1980 – Guest spots on the HP dinner show, CFRO-FM, Vancouver
  • 1976 – Presented solo evening of video, film and slides, Langton Street Gallery, San Francisco
  • 1977 – Played drums for The Young Adults, a Vancouver-based punk band
  • 1979 – A video of Flying Leopard on view at Video Inn during the Living Art Performance Festival, Vancouver
  • 1979 – Performed At the End of the World, in collaboration with Hank Bull at the Robson Media Center, Vancouver
  • 1980 – Appeared as a frumpy desk clerk in Colin Campbell's Peachland
  • 1981 – Performed La Chaise des Memes, a shadow play in collaboration with Hank Bull
  • 1982 – Appeared making a mandala in Ko Nakajima’s video Mandala 82
  • 1984 - Appeared as herself in Marshalore’s video installation Album
  • 1984 – Appeared as a flute player in Fraser Finlayson’s Come Fly with Sunny Day
  • 1985 – Appeared as one of the respirating in Margaret Dragu’s video Breath

Photographic Works[edit]

Solo Exhibitions[edit]

  • January 31 - May 3, 1998, Skin, Vancouver Art Gallery[13]
  • September 21 - October 20, 2002, Kate Craig, Charles H Scott Gallery

Group Exhibitions[edit]

The Western Front[edit]

In 1973 Kate Craig and seven other artists (Martin Bartlett, Mo van Nostrand, Henry Greenhow, Glenn Lewis, Eric Metcalfe, Michael Morris, and Vincent Trasov) purchased the former Knights of Pythias lodge hall and founded the Western Front Society.[16] An artist-run centre, The Western Front became a centre for artistic exploration in many disciplines.[17]

Craig established and curated an Artist-in-Residence video program in 1977. In addition to creating her own work, she fostered and produced video works with an impressive array of Canadian and international artists, including Stan Douglas, Mona Hatoum, Tony Oursler and Robert Filliou. In 1993 she retired from her position as curator of media arts.

The Western Front continues to support exhibitions, concerts, workshops, performances and maintains an extensive media archive.

Video works[edit]

  • 1975 – "Skins: Lady Brute Presents her Leopardskin Wardrobe" (b/w, 60 min.)[11]
  • 1976 – "Still Life: A Moving Portrait" (colour, 30 min.)[11]
  • 1978 – "Backup" in collaboration with Margaret Dragu (colour, 36 min.)[11]
  • 1979 – "Delicate Issue"[18] (colour, 12 min.)[11]
  • 1979 – "Clay Cove, Newfoundland" (b/w, 20 min.)[11]
  • 1980 – "Straight Jacket"
  • 1983 – "Canada Shadow" in collaboration with Hank Bull
  • 1986 – "Ma"
  • 1989 – "Mary Lou"

Further reading[edit]

  • Art & Correspondence from the Western Front (Vancouver: Western Front, 1979) ISBN 0920974007
  • The F Word (Vancouver: Western Front, 2009) ISBN 9780920974452
  • Golden Streams (Mississauga: Blackwood Gallery, 2003) ISBN 0772782075
  • Kate Craig: Skin (Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1998) ISBN 1895442257
  • Luminous Sites: 10 Video Installations (Vancouver: Video Inn / Western Front, 1986)
  • Rebel Girls: A Survey of Canadian Feminist Videotapes, 1974-1988 (Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1989)
  • Shifts and Transfers: On Some Tendencies in Canadian Video (Ottawa: Ottawa Art Gallery, 2003) ISBN 1895108977
  • Under Scrutiny: Video at the Western Front (Vancouver: Western Front, 2003)
  • Vancouver: Art and Artists 1931-1983 (Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1983)


  1. ^ Francis, Daniel, ed. (2000). Encyclopedia of British Columbia (first ed.). Madeira Park, British Columbia: Harbour Publishing Limited. p. 762. ISBN 1-55017-200-X.
  2. ^ "Kate Craig - National Gallery of Canada". www.gallery.ca. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  3. ^ Nickson, Elizabeth (9 May 2014). "Lives Lived: Sidney Shadbolt, 92". Retrieved 22 July 2017 – via The Globe and Mail.
  4. ^ "Untitled - Art Gallery Collections". collections.burnabyartgallery.ca. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  5. ^ "The Kate Craig Online Archive". Western Front Archive. Western Front. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  6. ^ Francis, Daniel, ed. (2000). Encyclopedia of British Columbia (first ed.). Madeira Park, British Columbia: Harbour Publishing Limited. p. 762. ISBN 1-55017-200-X.
  7. ^ Arnold, Grant (1998). Kate Craig: Skin. Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery. pp. 1–16. ISBN 1895442257. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  8. ^ Henry, Karen (2004). Mars, Tanya; Householder, Johanna (eds.). Caught in the Act: An Anthology of Women In Performance. Toronto: YYZ Books. ISBN 0920397840. Retrieved 2016-03-06.
  9. ^ "Kate CRAIG's Obituary on The Vancouver Sun". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  10. ^ Bull, Hank and Sharla Sava. "Skin: A Conversation With Kate Craig," Boo Magazine (Vancouver) 11, 1998: 8-13.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i Craig, Kate; Lewis, Glenn; Metcalfe, Eric (1979). Art & correspondence from the Western Front. Vancouver, B.C.: Western Front. p. 61. ISBN 9780920974001.
  12. ^ "Ornament of a House: 50 Years of Collecting, July 14-September 3, 2017".
  13. ^ Milroy, Sarah (March 14, 1998). "B.C.'s video queen". The Globe and Mail.
  14. ^ Laurence, Robin (November 5, 1998). "Artists Give the Pinhole Camera Renewed Exposure". The Georgia Straight.
  15. ^ Scott, Micheal (January 19, 2000). "Art Gallery Reveals its Riches in Impressive Show". Vancouver Sun.
  16. ^ "Personal Perspective - Western Front". front.bc.ca. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Western Front -". front.bc.ca. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  18. ^ RCIP-CHIN. "Identity – Kate Craig". www.virtualmuseum.ca. Retrieved 22 July 2017.

External links[edit]