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Current Exhibition


  • Pat Stephens

    Pat Stephens

  • Pat Stephens

    Pat Stephens

  • Pat Stephens

    Pat Stephens

Animal Parade

Pat Stephens

May 18 - July 15, 2018
Opening: May 26, 2 - 4 pm

Durham-based artist Pat Stephens paints eye-catching and dynamic portraits of nature's creatures, from an army of rust-red leaf-cutter ants carrying foliage fragments in their powerful jaws, to a close-up of a walrus, keeping a watchful eye on the viewer.

Working with a limited acrylic palette, the artist captures the unique attributes of her animals with stunning detail, a light touch of quirkiness, and an enviable ability to convey a sense of the vitality of her subjects. The photo-realistic quality of the paintings showcases her strong technical skills and invites the viewer to a new appreciation not only of the animal form, but also the meticulous craftsmanship that is required to accurately and sensitively depict animals at rest or in motion.

Originally, Stephens created those images for Kids Can Press, a Canadian publisher of books for toddlers and young adults. Hand-made as opposed to being digitally rendered, Stephens' inspirational illustrations were exclusively produced for educational books that explore and illustrate animal life. Many of those picture books received critical acclaim and awards.

Since none of the artworks in the show were originally titled we challenged students at our local Spruce Ridge Community School to come up with suggestions. Stephens' images ignited their imaginations, and the titles the kids crafted add another layer to the show: humour and wit. But that's not all - other students were inspired to write short stories or poems based on images they selected. We now invite our young visitors to write their own stories and join the parade!

Pat Stephens majored in modern languages at the University of Toronto. A fine art studio course she took "for fun" lead to several years of serious painting, and a few gallery shows followed. At 28 she returned to school to study Graphic Design at George Brown College. After graduation Stephens worked primarily as a paste-up artist. A book she wrote and illustrated about her cat, Nickie, led to her association with Kids Can Press in the mid 1990s.