GEORGE COCKAYNE
(1906 - 1976)

 

George Cockayne was born in England in 1906 and he came to Canada as an orphan in the early 1920s. He worked on farms and in lumber camps until the late 1930s when he bought a small farm in central Ontario.

The wind always blew his large barn door shut, he explained, and so he adapted the top of a cedar tree as a convenient doorstop. Its shape reminded him of the torso of a woman, and eventually he carved and painted clothes for her. A lifelong bachelor, Mr. Cockayne remarked dryly, "It's nice to have a woman to come home to." George Cockayne produced many rough-hewn figures, heads and animals throughout his life. Although his eyesight deteriorated over the years, he continued to carve his strange and wonderful creations. They preserved his memories of the past and his life on the farm with his Great Dane and ferret Pee Wee.

His work is found in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, and in many corporate and private art collections.

Ref: National Museum of Man, From the Heart Folk Art in Canada (1983); Kobayashi/Bird, A Compendium of Canadian Folk Artists (1985); Philip Tilney, Bill Richardson, This Other Eden: Canadian Folk Art Outdoors (1999); Blake McKendry, An Illustrated Companion to Canadian Folk Art (1999); National Museum of Man, National Museums of Canada, Something Out of Nothing: The Work of George Cockayne(1983).

 

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