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RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP STU PAINTER OXLEY REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP RETNIAP PAINTER REKAMTNIRP

PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER

RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER NEIL R ETNSHAWCROSS IAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER


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M AY 5 2012

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When Art and Friends Mix I first met Neil Shawcross in May of 1991 while traveling through Ireland on one of those slightly-business-butmostly-personal trips that one gets to take from time to time. I landed in Belfast with suitcase in hand and, thanks to an artist friend, a name and phone number scribbled on a piece of paper in my pocket. “You’ll love Neil!” he told me, “He is absolutely lovely.” So I called and, well… 21 years, dozens of visits, exhibition openings and countless shared family memories later, I can declare with certainty that I do and he is. In truth, it is hard for me to be objective about Neil Shawcross the artist, as he is more a member of the family than a colleague and fellow painter. Mind you, objectivity has never been one of my strong suits, so why start now! But in defense, I can simply defer to his massive CV, and distinguished exhibition record, and say without hesitation—he is both a dear friend and a wonderful artist.

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Northern Ireland is, by almost any standard, a small place. I often kid Neil Shawcross that the old adage of “six degrees of separation” feels more like “two” when it comes to the connections between people and events in that part of the world. This is perhaps another way of saying that in Ulster, it seems everyone either knows Neil, or knows someone who does. And, like most people who live rich and interesting lives, there are a lot of “Neils” to know: there is Neil the much-loved and now retired tutor at the art college; Neil the tireless sup-

porter of local art initiatives—from primary schools to local arts guilds; Neil the obsessive collector of postcards, sheet music, advertising…you name it; Neil the tennis player and Neil the crazy guy who swims in Strangford Loch every single Wednesday, snow, lashing rain and dangerous tides be damned. But more than anything else, thanks to a long and distinguished career, he is, to just about everyone, Neil the artist. Neil Shawcross has constructed a life as an artist that is in many ways a throwback to an earlier time, when a talented and creative spirit could, with a bit of support and a lot of determination, construct a life unencumbered by the careerism and hypocrisy that permeates so much of today’s art community. To me, Neil is an artist’s artist. He is hard wired to paint and he makes work because he cannot not make work. It is the sheer joy of being in the studio that motivates him, and the acts of looking and discovering that sustain him. It is both a simple and often unforgiving formula for success, in that it relies on such a deeply personal wellspring of meaning and inspiration that even the best of practitioners have run dry under its rigours. But here, like in so many other areas of life, Neil is different. His art is born, not of brooding indulgence, but of an infectious open-mindedness (and open-heartedness) that has made his work so engaging to viewers for over fifty years. ___________________ There are many simple pleasures associated with living in


STU OXLEY PAINTER PRINTMAKER RETNIAP REKAMTNIRP

a small village like Elora, but perhaps the most fulfilling of these is the daily opportunity to bump into interesting people. Moving to town in 2003, I had the good fortune of being introduced to Stu Oxley, a printmaker and painter whose work I had known and admired for some time. I think it is fair to say that developing a national reputation as an artist in this country is tough enough, but to do so as a printmaker is little short of extraordinary. So having the chance to live near Stu, spending time in his studio and eventually having the opportunity to collaborate on some prints, has been a particular highlight for me, both personally and professionally. His enthusiasm for working with other artists is well known, and that, coupled with his reputation as a consummate craftsman, have made him both a highly sought after collaborator and a significant talent in his own right. But more than that, Stu is a delight: warm, generous of spirit and full of fun. I can’t imagine a better collaborative spirit. Almost immediately, I had a hunch that once Stu Oxley and Neil Shawcross met, they would hit it off— socially and artistically. Connecting the dots between Neil and Stu didn’t take long: one visit to Elora, some wine, a few dinners, a chance to look at each other’s work, and from that point on the two artists have been inseparable. Each artist seems to provide something invaluable, both formally and expressively, to the work of the other. When you see their works in proximity (as they are in this exhibition,) the synergies are compelling and undeniable. Neil

Shawcross’ prints and monotypes, generated at Riverside Studio under Stu Oxley’s watchful eye, are full of the kind of energy and delight that comes through the all too rare experience of working effortlessly, un-self-consciously, alongside a kindred spirit. Likewise, Stu’s recent experiences in Ireland (thanks in part to his visits across the pond to visit and exhibit with Neil) have given his work a degree of formal forcefulness and animation that is both dramatic and heartfelt. Some artists that are meant to work alone, wrestling with the gods in privacy and relying—for better or worse--on their own instincts to get the job done. For others, especially those of a younger vintage, collaboration is the very air they breathe, sharing everything from imagery to production and in the process moving fluidly from “mine” to “ours” in the pursuit of art. But every so often, you get two artists who happily fall in between. For ten or twelve days every year, in a print studio in Elora, Ontario, this is exactly what happens. And in the case of Neil Shawcross and Stu Oxley, the results speak for themselves.

John Kissick

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Stu Oxley is an outstanding Canadian artist with a 30 year history of exhibitions in national and international, public and private galleries. Primarily working as a printmaker and painter, his practice is defined by a distinctive form of poetic abstraction involving evocatice colour and exquisitely responsive markmaking. As a Master Painter, Oxley has also made a very significant contribution editioning prints for numerous distinguished contemporary artists at Riverside Studio, the printshop he runs in Elora, Ontario. Oxley earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Waterloo and has for the last fifteen years been an extremely supportive and effective instructor of Georgian College and the University of Guelph. Stu Oxley has realized twenty-six solo exhibitions of his artwork, including regular exhibitions at prominent art galleries such as Mira Godard Gallery in Toronto, Jennifer Kostuik Gallery in Vancouver, Jill George Gallery in London, England and Paul Kuhn Gallery in Calgary. Included in numerous private and public art collections 16

such as the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Museum London, the Maclaren Art Centre, the Nickle Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. Stu Oxley has also been awarded recognition with a Purchase Award by the Ernst and Young ‘Great Canadian Print Prize’. A significant highpoint in Stu Oxley’s exhibition history is a catalogued, international exhibition at the Naughton Gallery at Queens University in Belfast, Ireland.


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NEIL STU SHAWCROSS OXLEY PAINTER PRINTMAKER RETNIAP REKAMTNIRP

Neil Shawcross was born in England and trained at Bolton College of Art and Lancaster College of Art. He has exhibited steadily throughout Ireland for more than thirty years in various galleries, including the Tom Caldwell, Belfast; Peacock Gallery, Craigavon; Bell Gallery, Belfast and the Sligo Art Gallery. He has also exhibited internationally in London, Hong Kong and U.S.A. Recently retired as Professor of Painting at the College of Art in Belfast he is now in the happy position of being able to devote his entire energies to the creation of art. Already he has carved out a unique position for himself in the hierarchy of modern Irish painting. Shawcross’ practise is dominated by portraiture and still life. His influences are primarily French and include Bonnard, Matisse and Cezanne. He is considered one of the most innovative and exciting figurative artists working in Ireland today. His figures are a veritable tour de force where gestures, movement and volume are revealed with a minimum of brush strokes.

Shawcross sources his still-life subjects from his surroundings, his home, local coffee shops and advertising. When representing a subject as simple as a cup and saucer or a bowl of fruit, he translates the mundane domesticity of this object into a painterly statement invested with character. A noted colourist and technical innovator, his stilllifes exude vitality and demonstrate a freshness of approach to this much loved theme which he has subjected to intense scrutiny over the years. The results are extraordinary. He has been the winner of a number of prestigious awards and is five time recipient of Royal Ulster Academy Gold Medal. His work is represented in many private and corporate collections, including the Ulster Museum, Ulster Television, AIB, Aer Rianta, the OPW and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

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This online catalogue was published on the occasion of the exhibition PAINTER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PAINTER by Stu Oxley and Neil Shawcross. renann isaacs contemporary art 31 Quebec Street, Guelph, ON N1H 2T1 519 821 9068 www.renannisaacs.com

Photography and Catalogue Design: Fernanda Figueroa No part of this catalogue may be reproduced without prior permission of the publisher. 30


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PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER PRINTMAKER

RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER NEIL R ETNSHAWCROSS IAP PAINTER RETNIAP PAINTER

Painter Printmaker Printmaker Painter  

Cataloguing the Stu Oxley and Neil Shawcross' exhibition at Renann Isaacs Contemporary Art.

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