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.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Winnipeg Airport in 2006 installed at the Ottawa Airport






Dan Sharpe very kindly forwarded an image of my work The Winnipeg Airport in 2006 installed in the diplomatic reception center at the Ottawa Airport, 2015, collection, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mechele Dickerson Book Cover, August 2014



I’m very pleased rising American legal academic Mechele Dickerson of the University of Texas, Austin has used one of my Shattered House works for the cover of her book Homeownership and America’s Financial Underclass, just published by the Cambridge University Press.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Aulac, New Brunswick, May 24, 1998 (2001), acquired, Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, 2014



I made Aulac, New Brunswick in 2001. It is the second picture in a series of three panoramic train images to date, produced in the Railway Lands group. It was preceded by the The Ocean Limited (East Bound) at Sackville, New Brunswick, August 13, 1998, made in 1999 and followed in 2002 by the Montreal Commuter (train) de banlieu.

I was interested in making the panoramic train pictures, because I had never seen a picture of a whole train before. The first picture came about when Penny and I were artists in residence at Struts Gallery in Sackville, New Brunswick in the summer of 1998. I was making large pictures of microwave relay towers at the time, but as Sackville is on the CN main Line and train whistles blow there day and night, I got the idea to make a train picture. On August 13, I went to the Sackville train station, just down the street from Struts and photographed the Ocean Limited passenger train as it appeared that day. I wasn't sure how the picture would be resolved at that time.

Back in my studio in  Ottawa, I figured out a method using plywood and different found materials including steel cans, linoleum, rolled aluminum and spray paint to make a panoramic picture of the Ocean Limited as it appeared on August 13.

About a year later I decided I would do a picture of a freight train as a partner for the passenger train. As I had no way to photograph a freight train in Sackville at the time, I researched in a Canadian rail fan magazine and found a picture of a crew change on an east bound CN freight (148) outside Moncton on May 24, 1998.

Using this picture which shows locomotives 5637 and 5740 as the start for my train, I documented all the other freight car names and road numbers on two trips between Halifax and Ottawa on the Ocean Limited passenger train in 2000.

The Freight train is both a composite and real document of CN freight 148, as it appeared on May 24, 1998. I situated or "posed" the train on the long marsh at Aulac, New Brunswick, just outside of Sackville, beside the well known Stirlings, Buy Apples sign depicted in the work.

The Owens Art Gallery purchased the Ocean Limited East Bound in 2003 and Aulac in 2014. The works have only been displayed together once in 2006 at the Confederation Arts Centre, Art Gallery in Charlottetown, PEI.