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David Morris

A position as the first director of the St. Thomas Art Gallery
brought David Morris to St. Thomas almost 40 years ago.

The most memorable experience at the St. Thomas Art Gallery

The new art gallery in St. Thomas was unique. First, there was the Alma influence. Very proficient artists taught at Alma and lived in the community. People took art lessons and they bought paintings. Also St. Thomas was one of the first places in Ontario that had a public art gallery. There were no official art programs in universities. Gallery directors were often practicing artists who were working in administration. There was a lot of freedom in program planning. The Women's Committee was an incredible working group. I was new to the area, but committee members knew everyone and even chauffeured me around Elgin County to pick up works for shows.
In the early 70's I was also part of a group of artists (Opportunities for Youth) that sought federal funding for a creative craft workshop. We received support from the art gallery board for purchase of initial equipment and supplies. We ran workshops on making everything from belts to sheepskin coats, jewelry, leather, and batik. Thousands of people came from all over to create their own handcrafted pieces.

After leaving the Gallery

Later in the 1970s I went back to painting full-time.

Articles from the 70's mention some local artists who formed a group called W.A.G.E. (Working Artists Group of Elgin).

WAGE members got together, rented space and had various shows, including an outdoor one at Pinafore Park. We were looking at ways to support ourselves. We also raised some issues. We felt that the art gallery's treatment of local artists, at the time, was shabby compared to those from London and we voiced our concerns. Often, such groups don't last for long. I was also part of WOAX (a name chosen because of the letters' visual impact rather than as an acronym). Our goal was to hold events which included art, music and poetry, with other creative people and those interested in creativity. I have also met more informally to share ideas with local artists including Walter Redinger, Ed Zelenak and Harry Wilkinson.

Creative Interests and Identity as an Artist

David Morris Interview

I started as a post Group of Seven landscape artist. That type of painting and getting out into nature can be fun. But at this point I am interested in sculpture. I would like people to think of me as a sculptor, as a person who does new things–a curious person. I like change, learning the visual and tactile qualities of sculpting. It is a way of learning about society. It goes places where I didn't expect to go–there's humour in it. But then, I may also get back to doing some large black and white graphics. I like to have a lot to balls in the air–you can grab onto them or leave them up in the air for a while. That way there are always surprises.


1964-67          Central Technical School, Toronto, Ontario – Special Art course

1977               University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario – Ontario Teachers' Certificate
                       in Fine Art (Dean's Honour Role)

1979               Fanshawe College, London, Ontario – Welder-Fitter Certificate

1987               University of Western Ontario, London _ B.A. (Dean's Honour Role)


1968-1970      Thames Art Gallery, Chatham, Ontario – Artist-in-Residence
                               Professor, St. Clair College

1970-1974     Art Gallery of St. Thomas-Elgin, St. Thomas. Ontario – Executive Director

1979-1980      Ontario Psychiatric Hospital, St. Thomas, Ontario – Art Teacher

1980-2004      Fanshawe College, London, Ontario – Professor in the Manufacturing Science Division


Solo Exhibitions

1968               Chatham Public Library. Chatham, Ontario

1969               Thames Art Gallery, Chatham, Ontario

1970               Thames Art Gallery

1974               Parallels Six Gallery – Parkspin, St. Thomas, Ontario

1975               Art Gallery of St. Thomas-Elgin, St. Thomas, Ontario David Morris

1993               St. Thomas Public Library, St. Thomas, Ontario
                       CIAO Restaurant, Toronto, Ontario

1996               Thames Art Gallery: Fusion, Time and Interval

1997               Art Gallery of St. Thomas-Elgin: David Morris: Recent Work

2000               The Beanery, St. Thomas, Ontario
                       Thielsen Galleries London, Ontario

2001               Woodstock Art Gallery, Woodstock, Ontario

2002               Gallery Lambton, Sarnia

2004               St Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre, St. Thomas

Group Exhibitions

1968              Willistead Art Gallery, Windsor, Ontario

1969              20 – 20 Gallery, London, Ontario

1973              Gallery of St. Thomas, Ontario

1974              Art Gallery of St. Thomas-Elgin

1975              London Public Art Museum, London, Ontario  
                      Parallel Six Gallery, St. Thomas Ontario

1976              Art Gallery of St. Thomas-Elgin: Olympic show

1987              Art Gallery of St. Thomas-Elgin

1992              London Regional Art Gallery, London, Ontario:  
Annual Western Ontario Show
          Art Gallery of St. Thomas-Elgin: WOAX Event
 Above ¨Tony' Huddle,¨St. Thomas-Elgin: WOAX Event
Gibson Gallery, London, Ontario

1994              Art Gallery of St. Thomas-Elgin

1995              London Regional Art Gallery: 47th Annual Western Ontario Show   
            Gibson Gallery, London, Ontario: Miniature Show

1996              Art Gallery of St. Thomas-Elgin
                      Thielsen Galleries, London, Ontario: Gallery Artists

1997              Thielsen Galleries

1998              Thielsen Galleries

David is also active in workers' unions. This gave him a unique perspective when he was commissioned to create a monument to workers injured or killed on the job.   
Pinafore Park, St. Thomas, Ontario:


was commissioned to create the dramatic sculpture that can be seen as you enter Pinafore Park. I was determined that it should have impact and reflect the struggles of working people from all backgrounds. Pieces of the fifteen-foot high structure were individually shaped with a hammer, forged, welded and ground. Set atop aluminum posts, the figure seems to be standing watch. Less visible at first glance are the labour symbols of two hands holding the globe, and a frieze of laurel leaves representing workers' heroism. The material is such that the sculpture changes dramatically depending upon the light. The Pinafore Park sculpture reflects my appreciation for the importance of making workplaces more predictably safe.


David has done things other than art to support himself. He was a welding and robotics teacher at Fanshawa College.

Aluminum Sculpture

When it comes to art, I relish the unpredictable  – happy to explore new creative avenues and discover where they lead.

Robotic Scrabble
Automated Pieces - Robotics

In this area of my art I am dealing with a continuation, an extension of the consideration of process and the time continuum. I am working on the antithesis of my concerns for symbols and process as an extension of subsumed cognition at different levels.



                Early Silk Screen Self Portraits


In the last fifteen years my interest in nature has taken a sharper focus specifically on native plants. My one son (Paul Morris) grows indigenous species and does consultation on restoration of wetlands, tall grass prairies, and Carolinian landscapes. I also have joined the St. Thomas Field Naturalist and been involved in projects with them including the planting of native species in Mill Creek Hollow.


Throughout my career, I believed in the importance of providing opportunities for people to appreciate art. In some cities like New York, and commonly throughout Europe, a small portion of public building funds go towards art, creating enjoyable public places and income for artists. My wife, Elaine McGregor-Morris, and I are so committed to this idea that we have set up an endowment fund to support it. "We really don't need more stuff. Our family members know that a donation to the fund is a much appreciated way to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions."

The MCGREGOR MORRIS FUND supports Art in Public Places. It is one of the funds of the Elgin St. Thomas Community Foundation (www.escf.ca) whose vision is to respond to community need and to provide support for Elgin County charities with sustainable `into perpetuity` funding.

David Morris
6 Prince Albert Street
St. Thomas, Ontario
P.O. Box N5R 1Z6
Phone # 519.631.2922.
Email address :


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