Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Grey Halifax (City of Ottawa,) Halifax Peninsula and Railway Lands (Ottawa Art Gallery,) Halifax Elevators and Southend Rail Yards (private collection Halifax) and two stacks of Container Ships at Halifax 2000 (private collection Halifax) installed at the Ottawa Art Gallery, 2004

Container Ships at Halifax 2000 was a body of work I produced from around 2003 to 2006. It’s part of my larger Railway Lands series 1998-present.  The idea was to find images of all the container ships that called at Halifax in 2000 and represent them. I found about 60 images, of which thirty works were produced. The pictures were typically hung in stacks of four and shown in the original Ottawa Art Gallery show and three subsequent Railway Lands exhibitions circulated by the OAG, Fredericton, UNB, Lethbridge, Alberta, SAAG and Charlottetown, Confederation Arts Center. After making nearly half the works I submitted the idea for the new Halifax Library competition, however my late excellent friend Cliff Eyland  got the commission. The works consumed lots of hard to find materials including oxidized steel and vintage rolled floor linoleum. Without support or collectors’ interest I gradually gave up on the project. In the intervening years I demolished twenty Container Ships to reuse the materials in my ongoing Overhead View series. Now there are perhaps three stacks left in existence. 


Recently a collector or collectors in Halifax purchased the overhead view, Halifax Elevators and South End Rail Yards, which is a signature piece in the Container Ship series and a stack of Container Ships from my dealer. This is very gratifying to me as my work has not been privately collected in Halifax. Aside for three works in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and a picture in the Dalhousie University Art Gallery collection, my work remains largely unknown in my hometown.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Cut and the Arm, 1978 (2019) 83 x 122 cms mixed media construction on plywood

The Cut and the Arm, 1978 is based of an aerial view from the City of Halifax Archives and shows west end Halifax from the Armdale railway cut and the Northwest Arm to the roundhouse in Rockingham, circa 1978. Because of family breakdown I spent the first year of my life living next to the ocean in my Sang Mêlés Acadien homeland, Tus'ket Wedge in Yarmouth Co., Nova Scotia. Returning to Halifax the family lived in a dilapidated Victorian, cold-water flat off Windsor Street. In 1966 we moved to the west end into a new world of new things - streets, houses, schools, parks, shopping malls, all new and clean with smooth unbroken pavement for as far as the eye could see. Nothing can touch the perfection of this place on a quiet Sunday in high summer when all was so still the chirping of grasshoppers drifted over the hot paved parking lots and I was drawn to the historic train line behind Simpson-Sears to wait for trains. In contrast to everything around me the rail line was old, covered in oil and the margins overgrown with grass. The engineers knew this was a playground for children like me, particularly Chebucto Road Bridge so they sounded their horns from a great distance in the railway cut to warn us. Hearing the high pitched glassy sounding chime tooting and bending in the fluctuating winds we stepped away from the tracks and waited in the long grass for the train to pass, usually a modest double hitch Dayliner on the way to Yarmouth, or a long passenger train bound for Montréal. Before I could understand what sacred meant I knew this place was somehow sacred and eternal and that I was just a passing shadow over the pristine grey pavement on a quiet summer day.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Ice and Snow in Nova Scotia, February 2015 (2015) 60 x 80 cms, collection, the City of Ottawa

The work is based on a satellite image of the Maritimes showing unprecedented ice and snow. The work is a kind of memento mori for my brother Gerard, who died in Truro in February 2015.