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“Cultural Excavation”
Mixed media on birch plywood, 40"x40"

This piece was inspired in part by a trip to British Columbia in the fall of 2015.  I visited a site that had many petroglyphs carved in the stone underfoot. They were scattered over a large area, partly obscured by foliage and leaves. I wondered how much was still covered that hadn’t been viewed for hundreds of years. Not too much was known about these carvings, their significance, or why this site was chosen.  There were also a few locations where someone had carved their initials in the soft stone in much more recent times. It made me think a lot about how fragile cultural memory can be. How fleeting and transient the memory of an individual, or a family, or a community can be. Perhaps there are entire cultures whose existence is completely unknown to modern peoples.

I chose to use a router on birch plywood because I was thinking about this idea of cultural excavation, about trying to recover memories, recover history, meaning and truth after much time has passed. I've painted fragments of the petroglyphs on the surface of the plywood. The excavation reveals hints of a buried, forgotten or oppressed history. Most significantly I chose to incorporate a group portrait from a residential school in British Columbia.  

I was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and have lived most of his life in Toronto. I have a degree in Film Studies from Queen's University, but I now direct all my creative energy toward painting. Since moving to a farm near Creemore in 1998, I have spent many years exploring the surrounding landscape – and the ever-changing human relationship with landscape. I am especially interested in the realm in which human and natural worlds meet – both in harmony and in opposition.  An oil painter for 25 years, my most recent work is marked by a transition to mixed media. Combining conte, acrylic washes, paint markers, oil sticks and oil paint, these works have opened up many new expressive possibilities. My work is exhibited in many galleries in Ontario and can be found in many private and public collections in North America and abroad.