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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Storm to the North at Latitude 45º 22’ and Longitude 75º 43’ 2008, 3:51

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ottawa City Centre c.1997, collection, Canada Council Art Bank, 2003

The City Center is a mixed office industrial complex in west end Ottawa. It was described in the Ottawa Citizen as the ugliest building in the city. As a structure it is pretty brutal with loading docks and a railway spur line, but in c.1997 I used it as the local for a large work in my Government Building series. My intention was to make a broadly metaphorical picture on the conflict between capital and social consciousness as mediated by governance and architecture. 

The building is clear in parts showing three Ottawa landscapes behind it, a starry sky over the river, Place du Portage from the Parkway and Parliament Hill. Beginning with the super fast elevator the composition rises through orders of rational scientific, religious moralistic and idealized images of capital to a final conflagration of conflicted interests on the top floor, all set against a calm nighttime sky.      

This is a transitional work and is more connected to my late 80’s Nova Scotia Landscapes, like Ice on the Northwest Arm and Saint Anne’s Bay from Englishtown, than to the later Government Building works like The Pearson Building (all that is high will come down low) or The Kingston Penitentiary. The work is a favourite of mine, because its so loaded. I’ve not attempted such a broadly metaphorical work since. The work is in the collection of the Canada Council Art Bank.