AS TIME GOES BY
May 11 - July 1, 2013
Heather Murray has said that her studio in the old Courthouse in Owen Sound is haunted. Given the nature of her artwork, this seems remarkably appropriate. Vintage portraits inhabit timeless field-and-meadow landscapes, accompanied by the wildlife, pets, farm animals and built structures of traditional country life. Her subjects gaze out at the world, thoughtful and forthright, telling their stories all over again. It has been said that family snapshots have no meaning outside of the family itself, but in Murray's hands, these unknown individuals from the past engage with viewers in new and lively ways.
A quick glance at county histories reveals the public role that rural men played in Ontario pioneer and early 20th century communities: as councilors, businessmen, clergy, reeves, and builders of churches and schools. Murray features the less public members of that society: the women, children and black residents who shouldered their share of the farm work and who contributed equally to the social welfare of their communities. Modern in its simplicity and idiosyncratic composition, yet respectful in its careful homage to bygone days, Murray's arresting mixed media collages wrap the viewer in tranquility and contemplation.
Heather Murray attended the Ontario College of Art in the 1970s. After living in the city for a number of years, she moved to a small hobby farm near Chatsworth, Grey County where she draws inspiration from the landscape and her animal menagerie.