Robert Clothier, Three Forms, 1956
Photo: Howard Ursuliak

Robert Clothier

Three Forms
, 1956

218.5 cm x 86.0 cm x 115.5 cm
Purchased with funds from the UBC Purchase Prize, 1956

This work by Robert Clothier consists of three concrete forms, each resembling a slightly squared C, stacked and turned to present a configuration that changes according to the angle at which it is approached. Although Three Forms is an abstract work, the arrangement of its spare geometric forms evokes the human body.

Clothier was born in Prince Rupert, BC. After serving in World War II as a bomber pilot with the No. 408 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force, he came to UBC in the late 1940s where he studied in the Department of Architecture before shifting his focus to theatre. He then attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England. Clothier is well known for his role as “Relic” in The Beachcombers, the popular CBC television series about rural West Coast life that aired from 1972 to 1990.

As a sculptor, Clothier (1921-1999) had his first exhibition at UBC in 1956 when Three Forms was included in an exhibition featuring the BC Chapter of the North West Institute of Sculpture. Three Forms won first place in the UBC Purchase Prize competition judged by the modernist sculptor Alexander Archipenko and by English author and art critic Herbert Read. Clothier often spoke about the parallels between acting and sculpting, noting that a sculpture must work from 360 degrees, much like “an actor can play upstage and let you read what he’s thinking about from his back.” Clothier, who was known to cover his scripts with drawings, found that making art provided a constructive balance to his life.