Dr. William Allen Jones was the first dentist licensed in BC. He was born in 1831 in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA and died in Barkerville in 1897. I have not yet succeeded in finding his grave in the Barkerville cemetery. Many tourists peer into his dental clinic on the main street of Barkerville Historic Town near Wells.
After studying at Oberlin College, Dr. Jones emigrated to Salt Spring Island with his brothers Elias and John in 1859. When the Cariboo gold rush began, William moved north, as did Elias; John taught school on Salt Spring Island for many years.
When I read about some of the incidents of racist violence in Canada and the US in recent years, I wanted to respond as a visual artist. Printing a portrait of Dr. Jones offered one way to illuminate and pay tribute to this significant figure from BC’s Black history.
Using a photo kindly supplied by the Barkerville archives, I designed a silk screen print in 8 colours (above). I chose a 100 pound paper stock that could handle a large area of water based ink (TW 5000 series from Willox Graphics) without significant buckling.
These variations in the background blend show the process of achieving a variety of results – one of the things I enjoy most about printing:
A short clip of printing the background and another clip as seen from above.
Next step: printing the shirt:
Printing a gradient base for the jacket, showing some variations in the backgrounds:
Next: the underprint for the head and face, showing variations in the backgrounds:
The first posterization of the photo:
Second posterization printed:
Third posterization printed:
Fourth posterization printed:
A printed gold frame (clear ink mixed with “gold” powder) “traps” the perimeter of the print and any minor misregistrations:
I had a minor problem printing some of the text: a brand new container of black ink was unusually runny and bled a tiny bit on three prints. To solve this, I made a new photostencil with “stroked” text (enlarged) so I could overprint the flaws with white ink. Then I printed the text again with some older, thicker black ink that did not bleed. Problem solved!
In the end, I used a total of 11 colours. Here are three samples of the final prints with variations among them:
An animated sequence of the main printed colours:
This is a fundraiser for the Wells Historical Society, Friends of Barkerville – Cariboo Goldfields Historical Society, and the BC Black History Awareness Society. An order form for this special edition is here.
If we can sell out the edition, each non-profit stands to receive over $2000.00 😉
Thanks to Mandy Kilsby, Caroline Zinz, Silvia Mangue, Claire Kujundzic, Andy MacDougall, Sophia Isajiw, Annerose Georgeson and Richard Tetrault for their assistance and support.
Article about the Dr. Jones print in the Quesnel Cariboo Observer.
The portrait of Dr. Jones was on display at Saanich Municipal Hall during Black History Month, 2021, and at the Emily Carr Branch of the Victoria Public Library during Black History Month, 2022.