In 2013 Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL) celebrated the receipt of an exceptional gift from
the estate of acclaimed Canadian artist and Delta resident – the late William Allister (1919-2008). The
International Collection of 19 large acrylic on canvas paintings, valued at nearly $160,000, was unveiled
to the public for the first time on Saturday, May 25.
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, Councillor Jeannie Kanakos, and Township of Langley Councillor and FVRL
Board Chair Grant Ward watched as Mona Allister, a sparkly exuberant senior, revealed her late
husband’s paintings. `The Allisters’ generosity and William’s creative talents have brought inspirational
works of art to Fraser Valley Regional Library,` says Ward. `The library is proud to showcase and
celebrate the great work of an outstanding Canadian artist.`
"In my paintings I like to play the music of the Past on the instruments of the Future."
"As an artist, I would paint toward peace, paint as I'd never painted before, stretching to the limits, soaring, exploring new forms, new harmonies...Visions of giant canvases marrying East and West unfolded before me..."
from "Where Life and Death Hold Hands", by William Allister.
Born in Manitoba, William Allister's adventurous career took him to the far corners of the earth. As an actor in Holliwood, soldier in Hong Kong, P.O.W. in Japan during World War II, writer in New York and Mexico, painter in Montreal and British Columbia.
His first novel, A HANDFUL OF RICE, won a first prize for literature in 1961, and was translated into Dutch and Norwegian. He also holds 9 international first prizes for documentary films. In 1986 he was presented with an Author's Award by the League for the Advancement of Canadian Letters.
In his twin career as a painter, he held over 30 one-man shows. His work is in collections in Canada, France, South Africa, Mexico, the U.S. and Japan, and reproductions of his work are sold worldwide. The "EAST WEDS WEST" collection was shown to enthusiastic audiences at the Asian Centre, U.B.C., the Richmond Art Gallery of B.C., the Gallery of Greater Victoria. In 1993 it was exhibited at the Canadian Embassy Gallery in Tokyo, sponsored by the Canadian Government, to coincide with the opening of THE ART OF COMPASSION, an hour long documentary film on his life, and aired nationally on CBC-TV and locally on the Knowledge Network.
William Allister's memoir, WHERE LIFE AND DEATH HOLD HANDS ( Stoddart Publishing 1989, paperback edition 2000, Restila Publishing) was published in Japanese in 2001, and won the Canadian Prime Minister's Award for the promotion of inter-cultural relations.
Now internationally acclaimed, Allister`s powerful and thought-provoking work continues to captivate audiences from around the world.
"Striking from across the room, Allister's canvases first appear to be sizzling Zen calligraphy. As you approach nearer, his free play with colour kicks in. Up close, you'll find a wealth of narrative and illustrative detail worked into the imagery.
...and we will walk sightless among miracles. Allister invites us in and gives us a way to take the walk. He then opens our eyes to the infinite pleasures of being alive."
Robert Amos, Times Colonist, 2002/ 2003.