Monday, July 20, 2015

Container Ships at Halifax 2000

In 2003 I set out to produce a series of constructions depicting all the container ships that visited Halifax in 2000. Working from incomplete shipping reports I came up with a list of 100 ships. I found images of most of the vessels on boat nerd sites. I conventionalized the image to present the vessels at Fairview Cove Container Pier and systematized the construction laying significance on hull colours, company logos and container stack colour arrangements. I produced about 30 works between circa 2003 and 2007. The largest group in exhibition was shown at the Ottawa Art Gallery in 2004 where I presented five stacks of four vessels. Similar stacks were shown later at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and the Confederation Art Center Gallery in Charlottetown. Material requirements made production of the whole series impossible. Two are in collection, I destroyed 10 of the works and16 remain including the images in this stack.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Three Large Versions of Quebec City from the Ocean Limited at Lévis- I always saw it in the Winter, 2005

Three large versions of Quebec City from the Ocean Limited at Lévis- I always saw it in the Winter, all three 2005, two versions are in the collection of Department of Foreign Affairs and international Trade, the third is privately owned. I produced the night version first, followed by the morning version and completed with the icebreaker version. The image is a remembrance of viewing Quebec City at night from my bedroom compartment on the Ocean Limited train from Montreal to Halifax, with the coolly majestic Chateau Frontenac puffing smoke in the distance, ice chunks flowing through the mid-ground on the Saint Lawrence and discarded tires laying in the foreground on shore ice.  Since making these pictures VIA Rail rerouted the train through Charny, Qc.. The view is now lost. 

Six Large Versions of The Shattered House

The Shattered House series is a subject stream from my Disaster Ship works. The image is based on a photograph of a shattered house on Duffus Street, taken in the aftermath of the December 6, 1917, Halifax explosion. I first saw the picture as a post card in the gift shop of the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax while I was there in 1998 to open my Disaster Ship show at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

I was drawn to the perfect composure of the wrecked house, like a cubo/futurist painting, full of motion and yet completely still, strongly composed, but destroyed. A visual ready-made worthy of Duchamp.

The picture was hard to work out, but gradually I figured a method using a three level layer matrix to give the house depth and create the illusion of looking through it. The first version, The Shattered House 8-215 was produced in 2001 and purchased later that year by the City of Ottawa. Since 2001 I’ve produced six large versions; one is in the collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. One is the cover art for a book on economics by the Cambridge University Press.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Shattered House, American Linoleum Version and four small versions, 2015

This is the sixth large version of the Shattered House. The Shattered Houses are based on a photograph of a smashed and distorted, but still standing house on Duffus Street in the aftermath of the 1917 Halifax explosion and come out of my Disaster Ship series last shown at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in 1998. Penny found this particular linoleum on Amazon. The significance of American linoleum as the 100th anniversary of the explosion nears struck me as a workable and appropriate metaphor in the evolving series.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A Pleasant Evening at Rideau Hall

A pleasant evening last night at Rideau Hall. I do jury work for the Hnatyshyn Foundation from time to time, so I was invited to the gathering. It turned out to be a “musicale”. Starting with a reception in the Tent Room, we moved on the Ball Room, heard a few remarks from the governor general and Gerda Hnatyshyn then enjoyed four solo pieces played from past Hnatyshyn Award recipients. The highlight of the evening was a performance by noted Canadian jazz pianist Oliver Jones, a pal of Gerda Hnatyshyn, who did a beautiful variations on Gershwin, beginning with the famous first phrase of the Rhapsody in Blue. I spoke with Oliver Jones later in the Rose Garden and told him how much I enjoyed his piece. He told me he was performing the Rhapsody somewhere in the United States soon and had Gershwin on his mind. Canapés and BC wine (a very good Pinot Noir) in the Rose Garden and some interesting conversation wrapped up the night.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

On Trains and Going (Pix by Glen Courtney 1979)

On Trains and Going was the name of my first Railway Lands show in 1999 at the Owens Art Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick. Though the title at first suggests the state of being on board a train and traveling, I meant the phrase metaphorically to suggest how the train as a temporal marker, embodies the action of going. As a boy of eleven or twelve in West End Halifax I would often pass hot afternoons and the long evenings of summer under the Mumford Road railway bridge smoking cigarettes scrounged from the Eaton’s parking lot waiting in the cool oil soaked shade for trains to go by. I use to wonder where the people in the sleek black and grey coaches were going. I tried to look in the windows for faces, but never saw any, just polished glass reflecting back the scrubby pine horizon and sky. The train was a profoundly mysterious object. All I knew about it was its destination, Montreal. That train is going to Montreal, I though to my self. I could see the zebra striped locomotives in my mind charging ahead as they cleared Bayers Road Bridge in the hazy distance and turned out of sight at Rockingham on their way around Bedford Basin. What lay beyond the Basin, I had no idea and my imagination failed me, just endless, epic miles to Montreal. Some day I knew that I would take that train and all would become clear, but I knew instinctively once I went and was going, that I would be an adult and could never go under Mumford Road Bridge again and wait for trains.