An Homage to the Urban Canopy

October 2020 Solo Exhibition – First Unitarian Church, Toronto

In 2005 a 250 year old oak tree had to be removed from the front lawn in of a loved one’s home. It really had to go. It had cracked in two, vertically, and one limb reached dangerously over the road. We all photographed and then mourned its removal. It served to wake me up to the importance of our urban canopy. I became aware that the lovely aging trees we take for granted in our city are not replaceable. It is difficult to reproduce the means to grow a tree for such longevity. Cities have compacted the soil too much for roots to spread deeply. There is also climate change and social crowding.

During the past 12 months I have sought to pay homage to the lovely canopy that I enjoy on a daily basis, through my oil paintings. My home is now in Toronto’s west end. I am a stone’s throw from Trinity-Bellwoods, Dufferin-Grove and High Park all three of which are home to hundreds of mature trees. It is these that I have come to know intimately on my daily walks. Trinity Day Camp,2016, was a revelation to me of the rich potential for our precious green legacy. It all happens under the trees - These providers of the very air we breathe. These are like old men and women who have suffered, and whom we love almost to death. I try in my way to savour them with my buttery paint.

You might ask how I see any beauty in the old fallen tree represented in Behemoth Diptych, 2020, or Oak and Window Frame, 2020. I could express more, as many artists do, with more colour variation. I feel wedded to the real experience of moss and rot, bark and the verdant foliage. We just don’t know how much more time we have with what we have.

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