David Morris

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

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

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.

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.

St. Thomas Art Gallery

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’ Certificatein 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

Interests

He was a welding and robotics teacher at Fanshawa College.

Robotic Scrabble
Automated Pieces – Robotics

 

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

It includes 38 works completed mainly in the last two years. Three pieces , Tone Row of 1998, Purple Scale and Green scale, both of 1995, relates to Morris’ investigations into the role of music and art through musical tone and colour equivalents. Although his other large work, 60 piece is not part of that series it also has musical undercurrents. Currently the artist is exploring the possibilities of robotics as art, two of which are included. Throughout, all these works reveal a respect for materials and an interest in texturing and layering.

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Affiliations

MCGREGOR MORRIS FUND
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.”

In the last fifteen years my interest in nature has taken a sharper focus specifically on native plants. 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.

 

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.