"The Apple Trees Were All in Bloom"
Neil McClelland, "The Apple Trees Were All in Bloom," oil on Mylar.
NEIL MCCLELLAND, Family Stories
Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts Window Galleries, Calgary
January 6 to March 23, 2012
By Jill Sawyer
There are several layers of nostalgia worked into Neil McClelland’s show Family Stories. Each small painting is based on a family photograph, and the collection is grouped into an amateur-salon-style display, as if the viewer had come across the dining room wall in McClelland’s mother’s house. The rough brushstrokes and monochromatic tones in McClelland’s work belie the emotional impact of his portraits. This series, in oil painted on Mylar, is a departure from his previous, boldly coloured work based on domestic family scenes (as memorable as our own vacation snapshots), but the familiarity is still there. The blurring between public and private moments is intentional. “I hope to engage viewers in an exploration of the tensions between domestic and gallery spaces, and to stimulate a dialogue around the role of visual representation in visual storytelling,” he says. Originally from the Gatineau region outside Ottawa, McClelland has been in Alberta since 1997, where he currently lives and works in Edmonton. He was recently the artist in residence at that city’s Harcourt House arts centre.