In 1997 I moved my home and studio from the city of Edmonton to acreage in Mulhurst Bay. This remove, in conjunction with preparations for an exhibition in Greece, and the recent death of my mother, brought about significant changes in my approach and practice.
Up to this time I had considered myself to be exclusively an abstract painter. At first, I found myself in the process of “taking stock” of those painting issues and assumptions that had been a feature of earlier working periods and I began to re-examine some of them. The September 2002 exhibition in Greece was entitled “Recollections” and was the first public acknowledgement of this process.
I had begun to allow the things in my immediate environment that I habitually looked at with fondness, to have a greater presence in my paintings. The Purple Martin birdhouse in my yard is invariably the first thing I see as I look out of my bedroom window. This shape with it’s serrated edges, formed by the three tiers of platforms, that constitute the birdhouse, struck a visual chord for me and being similar, in my perception at least, to the serrated edges, of an architectural niche in a wall in Karnak in Luxor, which in ’89 had also had a powerful impact, began to be a starting point in the centre of each picture. It became for a while, a “given” and virtually all the paintings between 1998 and 2003 had this shape, usually in the centre, as a point of departure.
Another potent visual source is the antique Hindu Sarongi, which hangs in our living room, and is periodically used by both Isla and I, as a teaching/drawing tool. This amazingly proportioned instrument, with its positive and negative volumes, has over time, become combined or “mixed up” with the birdhouse as a central starting motif.
During the 2002 Greek tour of museums and later in 2004, I made a few drawings of both landscapes and more particularly, antique ceramics. In 2002 a white Lekythos, in the collection of Charles Politis, held great resonance for me and I made a few impromptu sketches on the backs of envelopes.
Some of these drawings subsequently led to and some were incorporated into, a painting based on this wonderful ceramic. I came to consider this painting a sort of double tribute. On the one hand, to the antique master ceramicist and painter and on the other, to Picasso, who I began to believe had stood before this very Lekythos, in admiration. So, some of my paintings, when derived from a very rich and resonant source, are a way of bringing in to my experience (much in the way that children “act out” scenarios and come to an understanding of “fixing” of situations), the essence of the subject. Later the painting process digests the literal and my personal abstract language takes over.
In 2004, I found myself most affected by the museum and architecture at Mycenae and upon my return, launched into a series of paper works and paintings based on some small ceramic figurines. These figurines have a simple striped decorative motif and as I had worked with stripes before, held natural interest and provided an increasingly persuasive and renewed preoccupation. In my current work I have begun to explore; the vertical column, the horizontal tableaux and have begun to use elements such as circles in combination with the bar structures.
This range of elements and the relationship of the bars to a “ground” differentiates the new work from the much earlier stripes. I have deliberately not spoken of tonality, coloration or light, as this is perhaps the most intuitive aspect of my work, be it semi figurative or digested abstraction. Suffice to say that it changes from darker tonality to lighter coloration in concert with the development of the drawn motifs.
Harrogate School of Art, Yorkshire, UK., 1957- 60
The Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London
1961 – 64. Awarded Honours
2018 “Raw Materials”, Dec 14 – Jan 20 – Peter Robertson Gallery, Edmonton, AB
2017 “In and of Itself”, two person exhibit. April 6 – May 7 – Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.
2016 “Phil Darrah”. March 18 – April 5 – Peter Robertson Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta
2015 “Over the Edge”. two person exhibit. Oct. 1 – Nov 3 – Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.
2014 “Phil Darrah / Recent Work”. Nov 22-Dec 9 – Peter Robertson Galley, Edmonton, Alberta
2014 “Phil Darrah / Painting and Drawing”. June 5 – July 1 – Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.
2011 “Songs and Anthems”. Oct. 15 – Peter Robertson Gallery Edmonton, Alberta
2009 “Full Circle”. Nov. 5 – Dec. 9 – Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.
2008 Philip Darrah “Excursions”. May 27 – Peter Robertson Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta
2007 “Songs of Love” March 1 – Apr 3 – Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.
2005 “Renewal”, Vanderleelie Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta
2003 “Recollections”, The Exhibition House, Falatados, Tinos, Greece
2017 “Holiday Hoopla”, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC
2016 “Poetica”, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC
2014 “Art on the Block” Art Gallery of Alberta
2014 “Wrapped in Color”, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC
2013 “Art on the Block” Art Gallery of Alberta
2013 “Bits and Pieces”, Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC
2012 “7 Years in The City”: Art from the AGA collection
2012 “Summer Tributes”, Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC
2011 “Deck the Walls”, Group Show, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC
2010 “Colour Salute”, Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC
2008 Seeing Through Modernism 1970 – 1985 (Part 2)
The University of Alberta FAB Gallery, Curated by Dr. Anne Whitelaw
Seeing Through Modernism (Part 1)
Art Gallery of Alberta, Guest curator Dr. Anne Whitelaw
2006 David Cantine and Phil Darrah, Vanderleelie Gallery
Abstraction – Peter Robertson Gallery, Edmonton
2005 “Grand Opening”, Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.
2004 “Edmonton Excels” Half a Century of Painters at the University of Alberta’s Department of Art & Design.
2002 “Flash Point”. Painting exhibit, FAB Gallery, U of A
“Just Dessert”. Paintings at the U of A Faculty Club
1999 Faculty Group Show. FAB Gallery, U of A
1995 “Works on Paper”, group exhibit, Vanderleelie Gallery, Edmonton
1994 Group Show, Vanderleelie Gallery, Edmonton
ECAS (Edmonton Contemporary Artists Society), Commerce Place, Edmonton
Trimark Investments Corporate Collections, EAG
1992 “Abstraction, Which Way From Here?” (From the collection of the Lethbridge University Art Gallery), Triangle Gallery, Calgary
ECAS Inaugural Exhibition, Commerce Place, Edmonton
1991 City Hall Acquisitions, City Hall, Edmonton
1990 Staff Show, FAB Gallery, Dept. Art & Design, U of Alberta
1989 Abstract Painting – Canadian & American, Virginia Christopher Gallery, Calgary
Fall Show, Woltjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton
Alberta Drawing, Edmonton Art Gallery
Acquisitions ’89, EAG
Alberta Painting, Edmonton Art Gallery
Faculty Show, FAB Gallery, U of Alberta
Edmonton ’90 Studio Watch, EAG
Art For All, fundraising exhibit, EAG
In House Exhibit, Clinical Sciences Building, U of A
1988 Art For All, fundraising exhibit, EAG
Studio Watch, curated by Russel Bingham
Department of Art & Design Staff Exhibition Part 2, FAB Gallery, U of A
Wescan Fund Raising Exhibition, Edmonton
1987 Collaboration in Clay, Bank of Montreal Building, Edmonton
In Touch With Abstract Art, McMullen Gallery,
Walter C. Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre, Edmonton
Faculty Exhibition, FAB Gallery, U of A. Edmonton
Alberta Art Foundation, New Acquisitions, EAG
Collaboration in Clay, travelling exhibit in conjunction with Calgary Ceramics
Contemporary Edmonton Art, curated by Russel Bingham. EAG
Art For All, fundraiser, EAG
Abstract Art in Edmonton. EAG
Studio Watch, selected by Ken Moffet, EAG
1986 Art For All, fundraiser, EAG
1985 Staff Exhibition, Dept. Art & Design, U of A
1984 Drawings, Woltjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton
Alberta Invitational Art Show, CNIB, Edmonton
60th Anniversary Exhibition, EAG
1983 Selected Gallery Artists, Wotjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton
1983 Alberta Invitational Art Show, CNIB, Edmonton
Fall Show, Woltjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton
Grand Opening, Woltjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton
My Favourite Picture Show, EAG
1982 Recent Accessions, EAG
Emerging Canadian Artists, Evelyn Aimis Fine Art, Toronto
The Threshold of Color, EAG
A Selected Group Exhibition, Downstairs Gallery, Edmonton
1981 Some Drawings by Some Albertans, EAG
Recent Acquisitions, Glenbow Museum, Calgary
1980 Group Show, Martin Gerard Gallery, Edmonton
1979 Abstract Paper Works, EAG Extension
Draw111, Students Union Gallery, U of A
1978 Faculty Show, Department of Art & Design, U of A
1977 U of A Staff Show, Ring House Gallery, U of A
New Abstract Art, EAG
1976 Drawing Exhibition, EAG Extension
Circa ’76, Latitude 53, Edmonton
1975 Alberta Contemporary Drawing, EAG
1973 Two Man Drawing Exhibit, Latitude 53, Edmonton
1972 Alberta Contemporary Drawings, EAG
1962 Young Contemporaries 62, ICA Gallery, London, UK
1961 Bradford Spring Exhibition, Walker Art Gallery, Bradford, UK
Ministry of Public Buildings & Works, UK
Glen bow Museum, Calgary
Alberta Art Gallery, Edmonton
Alberta Foundation For The Arts. Edmonton
Bonderove & Co., Edmonton
Fort McMurray Community College
First City Trust, Edmonton
Shoctor, Hill, Mousseau & Starkman, Edmonton
Apple Computer Corp. Edmonton
Canada Council Art Bank
Cineplex Odeon Corp. West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton
City Hall, City of Edmonton
The Treasury Branch, Edmonton Centre
Lethbridge University Art Gallery Collection
Doreen Sulyma Professional Corp. Edmonton
Canadian Airlines International
Lombard Odier, Hong Kong
The Fraser / Nag Partnership, Dubai, U.A.E.
Dr. Jerrold Diamond Professional Corp. Edmonton
Dr. L. Russet Professional Corp. Edmonton
UBC. Okanagan Campus, Kelowna, BC. “The White Piano”
1985 The Cineplex Odeon Corporation, “Western Projections”, WEM, Edmonton
1996 The Francis Winspear Music Centre Foundation. “Calix”, Edmonton
“Cineplex Odeon”. The First Ten Years. A Celebration of Contemporary Canadian Art.
Written by David Burnett.
“Abstract Painting In Canada” Roald Nesgaard.
Published by Douglas & McIntyre, 2007
1972, Research Grant, U of A
1974, Travel Grant, U of A
1982, Canada Council Travel Grant
2003, SAS Travel Grant, U of A
1983 The Emma Lake Workshop, U of Sask
1986 Collaboration In Clay, The Works, Edmonton