Above: Eyland's attempt to erase a 1976 blackboard drawing by Joseph Beuys at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1980. The work was glazed, so the attempt failed. A few years later the blackboard was sold to the Art Gallery of Ontario to support a NSCAD scholarship.
CLIFF EYLAND BIOGRAPHICAL
(NOTE: For images of Eyland's work, please see: Images. For writing about Eyland's art, please see: Bibliography. For Eyland's writing on his own work, please see: Assertions. For Eyland's writing on work by other artists, please see: Writing. To view Eyland's 1992 book of illustrated essays, please see: The 100,000 Names of Art (16MB PDF) To view Eyland's 2006-2010 online posts to the art magazine Akimbo, please click here. For a shorter first-person version of the chronology below please click here.)
Cliff Eyland CV (PDF)
b. 1954; Canadian citizen/U.K. right of abode
Cliff Eyland is a painter, writer and a curator. He studied at Holland College, Mount Allison University, and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Since 1981, he has made paintings, drawings, and notes in an index card 3"x5" (7.6x12.7 cm) format.
He has shown in public and secret installations in art galleries and libraries in Canada, the United States and Europe, but mostly in Canada. Exhibition highlights include solo exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto; the New School University in New York; the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Struts Gallery; and Gallery Connexion, both in New Brunswick; the Muttart, now the Art Gallery of Calgary; the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba; and in Halifax at: the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, eyelevelgallery, Saint Mary's University Art Gallery, Dalhousie Art GalleryH e did a solo residency at the National Gallery of Canada's Library and Archives. Group exhibitions include shows at the National Gallery of Canada and in Paris, Florence, Italy, Manchester, England, and Lublin, Poland. In 2003 Eyland was a Western Finalist for the national RBC/Canadian Art Foundation painting award. Eyland's ongoing installation at the Raymond Fogelman Library at the New School University in New York City was regularly updated from 1997 until 2005 (he hopes to continue this installation one day). His permanent installation of over 1000 paintings at Winnipeg's Millennium Library opened in 2005, and his permanent installations at the Halifax Central Library (5000 paintings) and the Meadows Library in Edmonton (600 paintings) were both completed in 2014.
Eyland has written criticism for Canadian art magazines since 1983. His curatorial work includes 9 years as a curator at the Technical University of Nova Scotia School of Architecture (Daltech) and freelance work for various galleries, including the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg. From 1995 to 2005, Eyland was vice-president of the board of Plug In and, among other things, assisted with Plug In's award-winning Janet Cardiff/George Bures Miller show at the Venice biennial. Eyland was Director of Gallery One One One at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg from 1998 to 2010. He is currently an Associate Professor of painting at the University of Manitoba School of Art.
He is represented by Gurevich Fine Art in Winnipeg, and by art dealers in other cities, and representation is based on of individual works and exhibitions.
CLIFF EYLAND: A CHRONOLOGY, 1954-2014
1954 to 1967: The artist's mother Kathleen Margaret nee Williams, or Kay or Kate or Katie, was born in 1932. Her parents were sea captain Clifford George Williams of Ostria Lake, Nova Scotia, an Anglican, and Kathleen nee Hughes, an Irish Catholic survivor, with the rest of her family, of 1917's Halifax Explosion. The artist's father Ronald James Eyland, Ron or "Tiny," was born in Montreal in 1934. Ron's parents were enlisted sailor Leslie Eyland and Mabel nee Jameson, Anglicans with thick Northern English accents who had moved from England to Montreal as children
Kay and Ron grew up in Dartmouth a few blocks from each other and were teenaged sweethearts.
Kathleen became a registered nurse, and Ronald became a corporal in the Royal Canadian Air Force, an airframe technician for much of his career, and later a Warrant Officer. They had five children: Cliff, the eldest, Terry, Dawn, Lynn, and Mary Ellen.
Clifford Leslie Joseph Eyland was named "Clifford" after his grandfather and his paternal and maternal great-uncles, "Leslie" after his paternal grandfather, and "Joseph" after Sister Thomas Joseph and Sister Frances Joseph, Kay's favourite nursing instructors at the Halifax Infirmary where she trained (and gave birth to Cliff). However, he has always gone by "Cliff Eyland" as a name. He was born on 7 November 1954. On New Year's Eve, he and Kay sailed on the Cunard liner Ibernia for Great Britain, and onwards to the Canadian air force base at CFB Baden-Soellingen near Baden-Baden, West Germany.
Ron Eyland's passion was music and performance, and period photographs show him on stage, sometimes in drag, in revues that toured European military bases.
Eyland's brother Terry James was born in 1955, and Dawn Lorraine was born in 1957.
The Eylands were transferred in September 1957 to Kingston, Nova Scotia, a small town near Greenwood's Royal Canadian Air Force base in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley. They lived in "Personnel Married Quarters" or "PMQs" at 9 on 8th Crescent.
Cliff's sister Lynn Kathleen was born in 1958.
They ran naked in the woods. They did not steal from the local Handy Stand on Sundays. At the air force school, Eyland was strapped on the hands for stepping out of line.
During the cold war, air force children were not taught to "duck and cover" - everyone knew that would have been useless. The October 1962 Cuban missile crisis put Greenwood's air base on alert, and it was expected that the world would end. Eyland: "I had never seen my parents so distressed." His request of his father to build a fallout shelter in the back yard was laughed off. Eyland and his classmates drew tanks and - oddly - what were lightly-armed submarine hunter Argus aircraft as bombers in battles that always ended in squiggly atomic explosions.
Eyland insisted on using a ruler to print letters. He was a precocious reader.
Mary Ellen Margarite was born in 1963 just ahead of the family moving from Greenwood to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. They lived on 10 Crawford Street near Halifax harbour in a yard covered with coal.
Eyland: "I have sharp memories of Crawford Street. A teenager in a ducktail hairdo split a boy's cheek open with his fist; I remember the pop guns that we loaded by sticking the barrel into a potato, an older girl who regularly did naked dances for us in her backyard, and the smell of the oil refinery down the street."
Eyland and his brother made what they called Viking ships out of railroad ties and tried to sail them out the harbour.
The family moved to 61 Mount Edward Road in Woodlawn, Dartmouth in 1964, a bewilderingly standard post-war suburb. Eyland met Peter Wardrope of 14 Wanda Lane, and they became lifelong friends. He also met neighbours Jimmy and Owen (Owey) Simmons and Dean, Brock and Diane Smith, with whom he has lost touch. Other Dartmouth friends included Howard Granger, Ron Swan, girlfriends Paula Laramee and Cheryl Dalton, Pat During, Frank Rogers, and sadly, so many forgotten others: air force brats learn early to start with a clean slate when they move on.
The kids made mud pots and baked them in the sun. (Eyland may be confusing the pot making with Crawford Street.) They constructed "forts" or tree houses in the woods with materials stolen from local building sites. Eyland: "I vividly remember the thrill of dismantling a iron-oxide coloured board fence from the driveway of a vacant house on our street." After a year or two of building forts they formed a "fort wreckers club." They played endless games of baseball and had countless battles with wooden swords and shields. They made go-carts and ran them down the steep Mount Edward Road.
He went on lazy fishing expeditions with his friends, pulling out dozens of mackerel, pollock and sculpin from Halifax harbor. He and his friend Ron Swan frequently walked miles from Woodlawn to the Halifax Shopping Centre. Eyland always loved to walk.
He was fascinated by the black and white television show "Jon Gnagy's Learn To Draw." (It turns out that Gnagy was American artist Allan Maccollum's uncle.)
After 1964 the Eyland kids segregated themselves into girls and boys. The boys rode bikes deep into the night killing anything killable - suckers (fish), frogs, and insects all in as cruel a manner possible, by fire, club, knife, and bike tire - anything. Eyland: "Later I became a lifelong pacifist, but since childhood I've never doubted that males have pathological impulses: males need to be socialized." Amongst more benign activities in Woodlawn, they dared each other to walk at dusk through a wood copse called the "the Spooky Path." They turned their paper route money into candy gorging parties. Eyland successively quit organisations such as the Boy Scouts and the Air Cadets. He became, however briefly, an aspiring capitalist, reading Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie. He and his brother started a soda pop business, selling cold beverages to builders of new suburban houses, but some of their money was confiscated by to compensate a man whose car headlight was accidentally smashed by a rock Eyland threw at a tree.
Eyland's pre-1967 exposure to art, especially contemporary art, was limited. However, he did read and clip Robert Hughes's Time magazine reviews. His uncle George gave the family Eskimo (now called "Inuit") sculptures collected during Canadian Coast Guard Arctic trips, which was perhaps Eyland's first encounter with "real" art. His Williams grandparents did have a war-era McKay print (McKay was head of the Nova Scotia Collage of Art) of a Halifax waterfront crane in their living room, and there is an impasto landscape painting by an artist named John Cook at Ellenvale Junior High School, but otherwise little art graced the Dartmouth suburbs.
He attended Expo'67 in Montreal by train on a 7th Grade school trip. He filled a notebook with "passport" stamps from pavilions, a work he retrospectively anointed as his first file card work and his first serious self-conscious work of art. He forgot almost everything at Expo except the world's largest escalator in the American pavilion - he had never been on an escalator - and a modest black and white oil painting by Paul Emile Borduas. Every day he got lost.
Above: Pages from a work called Expo Passbook, 1967. This was Eyland's first self-consciously made work of "contemporary" art. While visiting Expo '67 he would often only enter a pavilion long enough to get its "passport" stamp.
1968-71: Lucky (c.1969-1979), a dog, was given to Dawn for her twelfth birthday. Cliff regularly took Lucky for walks.
In the summer of 1968 Eyland and his siblings were given informal art lessons by Suzanne Paquette, a student at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design who lived up the street. She played the album Hair as the we painted. Suzanne took Eyland to NSCAD's Coburg Road art school in Halifax for art-making visits. He remembers meeting ceramics professor Walter Ostrum "Cliff is thinking of art as his bag," she told him. Suzanne introduced Eyland to a longhaired student who wore an army jacket and never took off his sunglasses. He remembers seeing a biplane wing hanging from a ceiling and spaces crammed with art. He was introduced to Prince Edward Island artist and NSCAD student Karl McKeeman, who later visited an exhibition in Suzanne's back yard to which Eyland had contributed spatter paintings on paper. Paquette showed Eyland a large, intimidating art history book, likely Jansen's History of Art, or Arneson's Modern Art,and a large book about Warhol.
In 1971 Eyland's family moved to Amherst, Nova Scotia, the former boyhood home of Canadian artist Alex Colville, the town where Leon Trotsky was detained during World War I, and, near the Amherst shore on a yacht, the birthplace of Wyndam Lewis. Amherst was a town of about 10,000 people near the New Brunswick border, a few miles from Mount Allison University's art department, which was locally famous for once having had Alex Colville on its staff. Every kind of music was appreciated at the Eyland's, and there is always live music playing in their Amherst house. His parents bought him a bass guitar, which he used to help out his father's bluegrass band; he also joined improvisational rock bands that emulated, in endless iterations, Cream. Peter Wardrope also took up guitar, learned to play better than everybody in our crowd, and eventually became a professional musician.
Eyland became a mystic, using William James's Varieties of Religious Experience , F.C. Happold's Mysticism and The Little Flowers of Saint Francis as his guidebooks. He also read kooky newsstand books on religion and psychics, and whacky tomes such as Tertium Organum by P.D. Ouspensky borrowed from the Amherst Regional library. Eyland: "I just didn't know any better." He had mystical and out-of-body experiences. He starved himself to induce visions, ending up in hospital. He took up a life-time practice of meditation. For the rest of his life he is able to instantly enter an ecstatic state.
1972: He quit Amherst Regional High School but returned to graduate in 1973. Every morning he would head to the library rather than school.
Eyland's first job was in the summer of 1972 as a comic book artist in Dartmouth for Buzzard magazine, which he convinced his peers to name in honour of Leonardo's vulture vision as interpreted by Freud. Buzzard was funded by a government of Canada summer employment program called "Opportunities for Youth." Eyland: "I had so much money that I'd throw dimes, nickels and pennies down Duke street for fun."
The soundtrack of that 1972 summer was Frank Zappa.
The Buzzard work site was a church basement on Woodlawn Road near Prince Andrew High School, the gift of a tolerant United Church minister.
He took painting lessons from an Amherst man named MacDonald. (Eyland can't remember his first name, so his identity will forever be lost amongst his countless Nova Scotian clansmen.) During the summers before and after he lived in Jamaica (1973-74) he ran the Amherst Youth Hostel in the YMCA building.
One of the formative experiences of Eyland's life was meeting the Trinidadian-Canadian artist Michael Fernandes on the outskirts of Amherst. Fernandes has said that Eyland was walking his dog, guitar in hand, on railroad tracks, which is plausible. Fernandes became Eyland's spiritual teacher, mentor and guru. Eyland took a week-long course from him at Nova Scotia's Atlantic Christian Training Centre in 1973 that was about making candles, kites and plaster casts. Eyland would soon be teaching Jamaican children how to make tissue-paper kites.
Eyland was able to get money for beer in high school but never for drugs or cigarettes. The dominant soundtrack of Eyland's life then was the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's AM and FM (later CBC 1 and 2) stations. (In Winnipeg after 2015 it became Classic 107.) He could not never afford, and had no inclination or money to buy records, however much he loved music, but he treasured his copy of B.B. King's "Live in London" album. He walked in a fog of daydreaming.
1973-74: Eyland moved to Darliston, Westmoreland County, Jamaica in 1973 as a full-time volunteer at Clifton Boys Home, where he taught boys drawing, kite-making, piano and guitar. He especially enjoyed teaching the children reggae tunes. He "wanted to become a saint." He provided art supplies to students courtesy Nova Scotia donors, and he collected drawings from the boys, including astonishing works by Joe Clarence, an especially gifted young artist. Printed remnants of Elizabeth's coronation were everywhere in the Boys Home: rural Jamaica was firmly routed in the colonial era. He roomed with a generous English couple Father Alan Reynolds, his wife Robbie and their infant son Stephen, who lived across the road from the boys home. He read The Misery of Christianity by Joachim Kahl [London: Penguin 1971], and he became an agnostic, a person who hopes against hope, open but sceptical, a person of faith and lost faith. He read a biography of the English painter Stanley Spencer he found in Father Reynold's library.
Eyland on Jamaica: "Boys and girls homes were common in Jamaica then because of the abandonment of children. Father Westin and his son Peter from Amherst visited Jamaica once and whisked me off for a week to the Tower Isle Hotel in Ocho Rios, a feast following famine experience that I will never forget. I played commercial world's first video game Pong there. One time (Jamaicans often start a story with that phrase) one of the boys threw a pot of boiling water at another, who slashed a deep gash the boy's back with a machete. Jamaica had electricity and oil when other countries, because of the oil embargo, did not. Father Westin, a Jamaican and a sponsor of my work there, called Rastafarians 'outcasts.' I was, of course fascinated by them, even if they would not talk to me. One time the Clifton Boys Home kids killed a cow with stones and we had to bury it. Any walk in the beautiful Darliston countryside meant pulling ticks out of legs. I helped the kids cut grass with a machete, and hey claimed never to have seen a white person do that. A mango tree with ripe fruit is brilliant. A goat would be hung from a tree, slaughtered, and we would eat it. Porridge made from bags marked 'gift of America' were eaten with gusto and condensed milk. I loved the national dish akee and codfish, and not only because the fish was from Nova Scotia. I loved fried plantain and patties and raw sugar cane. I bought a book from an American Krishna kid who showed up at the door. The tropical environment grew mould on it very quickly. I did not smoke marijuana in Jamaica. That was illegal."
The soundtrack of Eyland's 1973-74 stint in Jamaica was Jimmy Cliff's album The Harder They Come , Bob Marley, who was just starting out, Anglican hymns and the guitar and piano tunes Eyland taught the boys. Excerpt from Eyland's Jamaican diary, February 11, 1974: A lady hung herself from a tree down the road. Captain (A. N. Johnson) and staff rushed down to see the swinging body, waiting for the right official to cut it down. I could have gone for a gawk but didn't. Mrs Smith the washing lady said people were pushing at the corpse's feet pendulum-like. "Very sad," she said, and I could only agree.
1974-75: Eyland applied for admission to Mount Allison University's fine arts program in 1974 and 75 and was rejected three times in two years, once personally by Lawren P. Harris. He believed, like Joseph Kosuth, that art had extinguished itself into philosophy, but he continued to draw and paint, consistent with his odd but longstanding notion that he was destined become either a folk artist or a conceptual artist. Instead he was admitted into Mount Allison University's arts (not fine arts) program for a year, majoring in philosophy and minoring in art history. The admissions woman said that he was the first person she could remember to major in philosophy there. He carefully paged through, among other things, every copy of every bound art magazine in the university library collection. His work was shown for the first time in an art gallery, not to mention museum, at Mount Allison's Owens Art Gallery with the Sackville Art Association 1975, but he can't remember what was shown. (Likely one of his oldest surviving works, a seascape now in the possession of his sister Dawn.
Eyland was interested in Jasper Johns, Vincent Van Gogh, Stanley Spencer, Miro, Georges Roualt, Wyndam Lewis, Marcel Duchamp and many other artists.
He was gobsmacked by an exhibition by Paterson Ewen of routered and painted plywood panels at Mount Allison. Other notable exhibitions he saw in the 1970s included Claude Tousignant's "gong" abstractions; a feminist group show at the National Gallery in Ottawa; and superrealist art at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum.
Eyland: "Our small Mount Allison English class went to dinner with the Canadian poet Al Purdy, who entertainingly demanded more beer at the staid Marshlands Inn."
Eyland married Kim Auld (now Kim Kierins) in 1975. Kim is/was a beautiful and level-headed girl who grew into a beautiful level-headed woman. She wanted to study photojournalism and she eventually became a journalism professor at King's College in Halifax and head of her department.
Eyland's parents left Amherst in 1976 for Edmonton, Albert, and in 1982 they returned to hometown Halifax on his father's retirement on an air force "terminal transfer." His sister Lynn developed symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, which was at first thought to be an endocrine imbalance. MS affected both sides of the family, and eventually Eyland's sister Dawn was diagnosed with it in the year 2000.
1976-1978: Eyland moved to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island with Kim Auld either in the Fall of 1975 or the spring of 1976. She enrolled in Holland College's photojournalism area and he enrolled in the graphic design program, after initially being rejected because instructors Henry Purdy and Russell Stewart rightly concluded after an interview that he was more interested in fine art than graphic design. Nevertheless, he had moved to Charlottetown and was persistent: they let him in. (So far his track record was officially zero for two in getting into art school, but he was encouraged that rejection had finally turned into acceptance.)
He got an evening job at the Holland College Library minding the checkout desk and re-shelving books. His favourite task was "shelf-reading," the checking of the order of books on shelves.
Holland College gave Eyland complete artistic freedom. He painted in oil, latex and acrylic, mostly on Masonite or paper. Most of his Prince Edward Island work was lost, destroyed, or left in a farmhouse in Johnson's River, P.E.I. in 1978. (Note: most of his Prince Edward Island drawings are now housed in the University of Manitoba's archives.)
His instructors at Holland College were Henry Purdy, Russell Stewart and Floyd Trainer. He collaborated with students Diana Cripps, Guy Richard and Dwayne Gordon. He met Paul Tyndal, a pianist who was to become an English professor, and Marjorie Taylor, his girlfriend, who later became a famous child psychologist whose the research topic was children's imaginary friends. In a pinch he sold his books to Marjorie for $50. He also "borrowed" Marjorie and her child Amber to pose as his family at the driver's licenceing bureau after he had failed his driving test several times. The gambit worked.
Eyland on Prince Edward Island: "Prince Edward Island was very hippie: draft dodger, mushroom ingesting, marijuana smoking - that sort of thing. There were not many artists in Prince Edward Island in 1976. Henry Purdy, Floyd Trainor, Erica Rutherford and Hilda Woolnough were there, but sadly they have been mostly forgotten. (NOTE: I was heartened in 2017 to see that a Rutherford retrospective had happened.) Allan Harding McKay had left Charlottetown years before for Halifax and beyond, and Lucy Hogg was too young to have been on the scene. Robert Harris (1849-1919) was still the most famous Prince Edward Island artist. The most locally celebrated artist at the time was painter of domestic animals named Lindee Climo."
Eyland did freelance work in Charlottetown, including a colouring book for the Prince Edward Island Department of Justice called Maynard Breaks the Law.
He showed in 1978 at Gallery On Demand, The Great George Street Gallery, and the School of Visual Arts in Charlottetown. His group exhibition Create with Dwayne Gordon and Jean-Guy Richard at Holland College was a highlight that included an eclectic mix of Eyland's experimental paintings on Masonite and latex paintings on paper.
His work appeared in a group exhibition at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum, his second museum show after his 1975 debut at the Owens Art Gallery. Images of the Island was curated by Mark Holton. Eyland contributed "Canadian Style Internment" (now lost), a 2'x2' acrylic painting about Canada's World War II Japanese internment camps. He thought that the Confed might keep his painting for their permanent collection if he left it there, picked it up after an exasperated call from Holton.
He met William Ronald at the artist's solo exhibition at the Confederation Centre, and was struck by his flamboyance.
Eyland "graduated" ("from" or perhaps "with" the mysterious "Step Program") from Holland College in 1978. Kim Auld left him and he began seeing Kim Grant, who had two adorable kids Sarah and Joey.
He scraped together a living at graphic design and teaching art to children during the summers 1977-78 as head of the children's summer program at Holland College, with Kim Grant's support. He worked briefly for a tyrannical print shop owner whose name has been erased from memory.
Soundtrack 1976-78 - Charlie Daniels, Fleetwood Mac (Rumors), Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLaughlin, folk, Rustico Moonshine, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Oscar Peterson.
Eyland ran out of money in 1979. His brother Terry flew him to Alberta, where he worked as a labourer in Edmonton for a firm called Industrial Overload, and then as a graphic designer in Fort McMurray for Gallery Print Shop and then a new weekly newspaper The Fort McMurray Express.
He made drawings in Alberta, mostly for graphic design clients, but no paintings.
Eyland on Alberta: "Alberta was becoming an oil state, and it was booming. Young Maritimers and Newfoundlanders were moving there in numbers. The dominant culture was disco, the favourite car a black Z28 or TransAm. Peter Lougheed, a red Tory, was in power and Ralph Klein was mayor of Calgary. There were enough Nova Scotians in Edmonton that Amherst kids could play a hockey game against River Hebert N.S."
1980-81: Eyland moved from Fort McMurray to his maternal grandmother's house on 33 Thistle St., Dartmouth in 1980.
He became a Nova Scotia College of Art & Design student after joining the army reserve both as a "serious joke and a summer job," receiving a "Certificate of Military Achievement" after boot camp and coming in second in his class. He visited NSCAD in his army uniform to finalise admission, and was is given academic credit for his years at Mount Allison and Holland College. As for NSCAD admission requirements, he was told that the only requirement was "an interest in art". He was home.
Above: an example of a file card sized section cut out of H.H. Arneson's History of Modern Art, part of the 1981 work N.S.C.A.D. Library File Card Intervention.
Eyland began to make art in the library of the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design 1980. In 1981 he exhibited his file card works for the first time in group show at NSCAD's Anna Leonowens Gallery, where he also had his first solo exhibition that later that year called "Cartoons and Sentences." The exhibition included ink drawings and text works on paper, none of which Eyland thought were any good.
Eyland on NSCAD: "NSCAD's street-front library at 5163 Duke Street, run by John Murchie, and loving staff such as Kit Clark, was the social centre of the School, at least for me. It was the beginning of the AIDS era, but we did not know what that meant. I still remember the taste of cigarette ashes in beer, necking on the floor of the Seahorse Tavern with a girlfriend, and tipsy arguments with Kenneth Coutts-Smith. Punk was late arriving in North America. We danced to the B52's 'Rock Lobster,' and to the Talking Heads, The Clash and the Sex Pistols. Gordon Laurin organised a live performance by Sonic Youth. Most NSCAD males had short hair, so Haligonians often thought we were in the military. My studio advisor at NSCAD was the painter Judith Mann, whom I liked very much, especially her sense of humour, but my most important new teacher and influence was Eric Cameron. Instead of studying with Cameron, I decided to study him. (Of course, the presence of my mentor/guru Michael Fernandes on staff was also very important to me.) About a year before I became his student, Cameron had begun to make 'thick' paintings, a continuing project. The thick paintings were/are ordinary objects covered with layers of acrylic gesso. They immediately reminded me of the obsessiveness of Joe Clarence's Jamaican drawings, and of other artists who do things because of a reasoned compulsion which does not depend on the feedback of an audience. Cameron connected them to previous NSCAD layer painters such as Garry Kennedy, Bruce Campbell and Jeff Spalding. I transcribed a 1982 interview I did with Cameron for Vanguard magazine, published in 1983. The Vanguard piece was the first published about the 'thick' paintings and my first published article as opposed to review. As Cameron describes our encounter in his 1990 Winnipeg Art Gallery/National Gallery catalogue, he was rather surprised that I had written about him, suggesting that his own obsessive theoretical writing about himself began as a response to my art-student musings, which I doubt. He would have to set the record straight because this student had gotten it all wrong! Cameron allowed his art to escape the grasp of its conceptualist program in a marvellous way, such that the art became a series of 'mistakes.' I recognized it later as an instance, like that of Jas Ban Ader, of 'Romantic Conceptualism,' a term coined years afterward. Psychological tension and repression are built into obsessional types of conceptual art like Cameron's. Whereas Jackson Pollock's mature work conveys a sense of instant volcanic release, a kind of ejaculatory burst, the images conjured by Cameron's type of conceptual art are like the geological layering of sediment or snow. A study of Cameron and libraries led me to take up the file card size format for my painting in 1981. Various art-world luminaries came through the school when I was a student there. I remember a wonderful presentation by Dan Graham about punk rock; Victor Burgin trying to get us to stop painting; Hans Haacke speaking about his political work; and Paterson Ewan showing us slides he had taken in his back yard with his hands wrapped around the paintings. I attended several talks by Robert Frank, and he showed us his banned film Cocksucker Blues. Hilton Kramer came through the school and afterward announced that NSCAD students had 'put down their video cameras and picked up their paint brushes.' (I like to think that visitors saw my little corner with its 3x5 paintings.) The presence of the art historian and critic Benjamin Buchloh, who taught art history, kept everyone on edge, if not the edge, and the art historian Dennis Young produced the best lectures about art that I have ever heard. At the time contacts with the NSCAD power duo Gerald Ferguson and Garry Neill Kennedy were minimal but important. In my last year I had them as co-advisors. It was amusing to see Jerry give Garry a hard time about NSCAD administrative matters unrelated to my art. Jerry's agressive advice met Garry's unmovable will head on. After art school Ferguson eventually became a close friend, and I am still saddened by his suicide. In retrospect, given his subsequent influence on the art scene in England and his untimely death, Peter Fuller's studio visit with Eyland was a highlight of his NSCAD years. One of the painting instructors, the late John Clark, was anxious for students to meet Fuller, the future founder of the British magazine Modern Painters. He came into my tiny section of the painting studios, where I showed him some paintings based on a collage made of pieces of a Hogarth print. After a slow look, he leaned back in an Oxbridge slouch and proclaimed that I was making 'concessions to conceptualism,' as if I were struggling to get back through conceptualism to a more ancient art. He made me angry at the time, but I have since learned to appreciate and even share some of his opinions."
Above: Joanne Light looking at an arrangement of Eyland's file card paintings at an Anna Leonowens Gallery student group exhibition in 1981. Click here for an artist's statement about the file card works.
1982: Eyland graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts studio degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design despite having quit classes during his last year. His degree is number 777, which he thinks significant, even though he had never believed in numerology. He put the certificate in a lerge book about Rembrandt.
Eyland: "I borrowed $4000 during my last year so that I could make a lot of art, and it took ten years at $89/month to settle the debt."
Above: Jane Sadler Dalhousie University ID Card, ID card and acrylic on gessoed 1/8th" Masonite, 3"x5" (7.6x12.7 cm) 1988-1996. Collection: Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Eyland met Jane Sadler, a Dalhousie University Russian studies student from Ottawa, in 1982 through her sister Helen, an art student. Sadler had an eye for art and antiques. For example, she found an Arthur Lismer painting amongst garbage in the basement of a Halifax roommate rental. Jane played piano and was passionate about fabrics and clothes. She was never tempted to become a fashion model, which seemed an obvious option to her friends. Her father was a retired Nortel executive - a British ex-pat - and her family lived in Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa's exclusive embassy district.
During and shortly after his time at NSCAD Eyland took care of his maternal grandmother Kathleen Williams in exchange for rent. He fed her, bought her mystery magazines and cigarettes, watched TV with her as he drew, and took her to the local Legion for rum and cole fueled World War I singalongs.
He borrowed his father's white pickup truck to work on North End Halifax renovation jobs at homes owned by art professionals, including Gemey Kelly and John Murchie, John Greer, Shelagh MacKenzie, and NSCAD library clerk Joyce Stevenson.
Eyland: "Joyce worked on the front desk of the NSCAD library, and cut my Masonite file cards for me. She once asked me if visiting artist Michael Asher, one of the most brilliant artists alive, was 'retarded.' 'I really mean it: is he?'
During one renovation job that Joyce and her husband hired Eyland to assist in, Eyland found hundreds of old dollars and expired Irish sweepstakes tickets in a box under a sink. Joyce shared the find with Eyland and other workers.
1983: Eyland became an "exhibitions officer" in 1983 at Mount Saint Vincent University's Art Gallery under director Mary Sparling, after having been turned down a year earlier for this coveted one-year curatorial apprenticeship. It was a rare entry-level curatorial job and the closest thing to around to the now-common contemporary curatorial grad school, which did not exist at the time. As part of his training he attended a one-week "orientation program" at the National Gallery of Canada.
Sparling gave Eyland extra gallery responsibilities so that she could organise the country against Canadian federal government Brian Mulroney-era arts cutbacks. He hung shows, designed catalogues, wrote essays, gave tours, and matted and framed art.
He rented a large room at the Halifax youth hostel on Brunswick Street - run by an old Amherst friend Roger Doncaster - with Jane Sadler and other students, then it was off to 1451 South Park Street, where Sadler stayed with him during winters. Their 1451 Sputh Park room mates included Peter Wardrope, Eyland's oldest friend.
He met Barbara Hodkin, a psychology professor at Mount Saint Vincent, who became a lifelong friend, and her daughter Bruna Gushurst, with whom later he also became close.
His writing was published in an art magazine for the first time in 1983. In 1982 his first writing was an interview with one of his teachers at NSCAD "Eric Cameron, who began his "thick paintings" in 1979, but Eyland's first published reviews were about the work of Halifax artists Janice Leonard for Arts Atlantic) and David Merritt for Vanguard in 1983.
The first references in print about Eyland's work appeared in the Bruce Barber/Jan Peacock catalogue for a show called Appropriation/Expropriation at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery.Eyland: "Bruce Barber thought that a show that I had curated about the Jamaican Joe Clarence was appropriation art, and favoured it, I think, but I chose instead to exhibit my collaged re-workings of a Hogarth print - my mistake for this context - but the switch made me realize that. I did not want to be an 'appropriation artist.' Barber, seconded by Peacock, had made the right call for that show and I was wrong: after that I listened more carefully to curators."
Eyland cut out file card-sizes pieces from scraps of matt board he culled from the garbage in 1983/84 (while framing The Atlantic Album, a show of historical photographs) to use as supports for paintings and drawings. He also cut out other file card pieces from Mount Saint Vincent gallery garbage, mostly mailers for Canadian art exhibitions. He has yet to exhibit these works.
In 1983 he also began to cut out file card excerpts from his own older works.
Eyland did art reviews on CBC radio about the Nova Scotian Alex Colville and Marcel Quay. Radio was not for him.
He bought his first and last car in 1983 from his brother Terry, a 1975 Mustang he painted with white house paint. When the brake light flared up he covered it with electrical tape; soon afterwards the brakes failed and he crashed down a hill into the youth hostel's fence. He had the car towed away.
He got a temporary job at the Federation of Nova Scotian Heritage, which along with the Holland College clerk job, was one of only two library positions he has ever had. He made a file card catalogue of their book collection, cards that were later the sources of a 1988 solo show at Eye Level Gallery called Ocean Playground and Eyland's 2014 Halifax Central Library commission.
Above: A photograph by Donald Westin of Cliff Eyland's 1984 Anna Leonowens Gallery exhibition Library/Art Gallery. "The show was an arrangement of file card paintings and drawings put in 35 mm slide mounts within a 3'x5' area on one wall.
In 1984 Eyland had his second solo exhibition (if one does not count his curated Joe Clarence show) at NSCAD's Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax entitled Library/Art Gallery. A Vanguard magazine review of the exhibition by Charlotte Townsend-Gault was a first for Eyland.
He wrote about "Dal's Community Exhibition," for the Dal News, about an "Audio by Artists Festival", about Michael Fernandes, Pamela Ritchie, a conference exhibition staged by Canada's artist-run centres, and about Barbara Lounder and John Nesbitt.
Eyland had a solo exhibition in 1985 entitled Library/Art Gallery (7 November to 7 December) at the Killam Library in Halifax facilitated by Dalhousie Art Gallery. Oyar Biskaps, one of the architects of the Killam Library, was unable to find the show, which included a few paintings on a wall in a reading room.
He curated a solo exhibition of work by Jamelie Hassan, his first post-art school curating, and he wrote about Elizabeth Shatford, Peter Kirby, Leslie Sampson, Marlene Creates, and Pat Martin Bates for the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery. He also wrote about Graham Metson, Felicity Redgrave, Wayne Boucher, Les Sasaki and the Halifax Coalition for the Arts, Mary Sparling's arts advocacy group.
He gave a lecture entitled "Recent Painting Halifax" at Mount Saint Vincent University.
In August Eyland became "Curator: Exhibitions & Resource Centre" at the Technical University of Nova Scotia's Faculty of Architecture (now "Daltech"). Dean Essy Baniassad, the charismatic Persian head of Architecture at TUNS, hired him. Eyland: "I met my new colleagues in what I thought was an interview, but afterward Essy said: 'you know, Cliff, this was not an interview, you have the job.' But what job? He showed me an exhibition space and a room full of files and magazine clippings and let me go." Eyland's task was to answer student questions about architecture, of which he knew nothing, and to organise and install architectural exhibitions, about which he knew even less.
He began his job using an IBM Selectric typewriter, but Angela Mombourquette, a computer science student, was soon hired to teach Eyland IBM desktop computing in late 1985 or early 1986. Soon afterward, Eyland was given a Macintosh computer. "I vividly remember wondering where the type went when I hit the return key on that IBM," says Eyland of his early computer training.
On his time at the Technical University of Nova Scotia: "I learned that one can 'design' all the objects in a painting, the world inside a painting. The architecture discourse at the time was the world of 'deconstruction, architecture without buildings and architecture as a kind of cerebral otherworldly art. One of the most delightful moments I had - and there were many - was when visiting architect Zaha Hadid, in response to a puzzled student question, pointed at a mess of cubist lines in an image of her 'peak' project and said 'the kitchen is right here.'"
Eyland participated in an artist-initiated group show called Ecphore in 1986, gluing an original drawing into each of 300 copies of the exhibition's catalogue. This is the first instance since Holland College in 1978 in which he put original drawings in a publication.
His work was included in the travelling exhibition Visual Facts, curated by Susan Gibson Garvey for Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax.
Documentation of his curatorial work was included in a group exhibition Ten Years of Eye Level in Halifax.
He wrote about Andrew Forster for Vanguard magazine, his only publication that year. He attributed the fall off in his writing to the adjustments he was making to his new job at the TUNS School of Architecture.
In 1986 he met Newfoundlander Pam Perkins who was a brilliant graduate student in English at Dalhousie University; her area of study was Romantic and Enlightenment-era British literature. She was writing a Masters thesis in humour and Romanticism at a table in the Grad House, the local hangout. She received her PhD in English in 1991.
Eyland created a catalogue for a Michael Fernandes exhibition at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery in 1987 that consisted of a 5 1/4" electronic diskette and a folded poster in a clear plastic bag. The catalogue was produced before jpegs existed, so it included only a text made using IBM "Wordstar" software. It might have been the first diskette art catalogue in the world, but of course it was totally useless.
He wrote about Graham Metson, Sean McQuay, Leah Evelyn, and, in relation to a group show of Moncton, New Brunswick artists, Yvon Gallant, Paul Bourque, Jacques Arsenault and Hermenegilde Chiasson.
He attended a national conference of Canadian Artists Representation in Ottawa at the new National Gallery building, and he visited Ottawa again that year to serve on a Canada Council for the Arts jury.
1987: Eyland had no solo shows and only one group exhibition (the second and last group exhibition by the Ecphore collective) in 1987. He visited Amherst, Massachusetts to give a lecture about his work and to meet MFA students, courtesy Blair Thurman, an American friend from his NSCAD days, but sadly, the Emily Dickinson house was not yet open to the public. While visting the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston he saw the Rembrandt/Vermeer paintings that were later stolen and remain unrecovered.
1988: Eyland had a solo exhibition at Eye Level Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia entitled Ocean Playground (9-27 February). "Ocean Playground" was Nova Scotia's motto, stamped onto license plates. The exhibition put together paintings with annotated photocopies of his Federation of Nova Scotia Heritage cards mounted on gessoed Masonite. Ocean Playground was directly and indirectly related to Nova Scotian history. Some of the images were from Eyland's maternal grandmother Kathleen Williams's photo albums. The work was profoundly influenced by his heroes Haligonian artists Janice Leonard and Eric Walker, were mixing up high art, folk art and local Halifax history in their work.
In 1988 Eyland began dating Catherine Gallagher, who died in a car accident shortly afterward. He made paintings based on a drawing of Catherine which he gave to Catherine's mother. He collaborated on an exhibition of Gallagher's work for the Anna Leonowens Gallery with Laura MacNutt, Maureen Donnolly and others.
Above: A 1988 self-portrait by Catherine Gallagher printed at Cliff Eyland's request by Joe O'Leary in a 3"x5" format.
He began seeing Pam Perkins.
He wrote reviews about the work of Dennis Gill, Alex Livingston, David Bobier/Terry Graff, and Robert Pope, and he curated an exhibition of John Devlin's architectural drawings of Cambridge, England.
Eyland and Perkins spent a month in London, England in 1989 at William Goodenough House, as the Berlin Wall fell. As tempted as they were to fly to Berlin to celebrate, they did not.
Eyland's work was in an exhibition at Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery entitled Ex Ex Ex that included art by former exhibitions officers. He was also in a group exhibition at Eye Level Gallery.
He and Brent Ash were commissioned by Technical University of Nova Scotia Faculty of Architecture's Dean Essy Baniassad to curate a national conference and exhibition in Winnipeg for the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada in 1989, the anniversary of the both Russian revolution and current Eastern European revolutions. They called the conference and exhibition The Place of Work Anthony Vidler was the keynote speaker. Eyland and Ash got turned down by Michael Ignatieff, Jurgen Habermas and others.
The Place of Work exhibition was perhaps the world's first faxable show, consisting of letter-sized sheets arranged in various configurations on walls at Plug In and at offsite venues. They renovated Plug In Gallery on McDermot Street, but as they cleaned up the luggage store owner downstairs complained about dripping water. Plug In put the problem off, but soon afterward a Sharon Alward performance/installation piece Totentanz that involved her mopping blood up from the floor made headlines because, wait for it, blood dripped into the luggage store. This was Eyland's introduction to Plug In. (He could not have known that he would move to Winnipeg in 1994 and join Plug In's board in 1995.)
Eyland curated an exhibition about the history of the Mount Allison University art department with Charlotte Townsend-Gault and Gemey Kelly called Atque Ars.
He performed with the art band The Babbies Upstairs members Michael Fernandes, Chris Woods, Richard Robertson and Scott Smith at a NSCAD graduation ceremony during which Eyland sang Blake's Jerusalem with the word "NSCAD" substituted for "England."
He wrote about the artists Allan Harding McKay and filmmaker Bill MacGillivray.
Eyland had a solo show in 1990 at Charlottetown, P.E.I.'s Great George Street Gallery entitled Memoirs of a Spudnik (April 3 to 27) that was dedicated to Kim Grant and her kids Sarah and Joey. He sold a work from the show, a picture of Halifax's Citadel Hill, for $100.
In 1990 (and 1991) the tenth and last Dalhousie Drawing Exhibition travelled from its debut in Halifax to Burnaby, Calgary, St. John's, Moncton, and Charlottetown after opening in Halifax. Curator Susan Gibson-Garvey included Eyland's steel storage cabinets with all of his drawings, paintings and small sculptures - his entire oeuvre to date.
He curated exhibitions about Richard Mueller, Chris Woods, Charlie Murphy and Theirry Delva, and he produced a show of Technical University of Nova Scotia School of Architecture students called Teaching/Practice, Architectural Education and the Visual Arts, for Dalhousie University's art gallery.
He wrote about Peter Kirby for Arts Atlantic magazine.
Eric Cameron cited Eyland's writing about him in his National Gallery catalogue.
Eyland visited Ottawa as a Canada Council jury member for exhibitions assistance grants.
He wrote a screed about architecture for the TUNS student publication Animadversion entitled "Three Criminal Acts in the Presentation of Architectural Design."
Eyland had a solo exhibition in 1991 at Struts Gallery in Sackville New Brunswick, curated by Michael Lawlor, who jammed the paintings together on one wall, some upside down. Eyland was pleased with the arrangement.
Artist/Curator Marlene Creates included his work in the exhibition Small Works: in Search of a Non-toxic Art Practice at Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John's, Newfoundland. Marlene had become a fast friend.
He showed for the last time at the Halifax commercial gallery Studio 21 in 1991. The general sentiment at NSCAD was against the commercial art gallery world, but a new generation was willing to give it a go.
He wrote about artists Carl Zimmerman, Yvon Gallant, Michael Fernandes, Alex Livingston and Nancy Edell.
In 1989/91 he was a thesis advisor to architecture students Ross Wingrove, Andrew King (who as a mature arcitect won Canada's Prix de Rome), and Jamie Pye at TUNS Architecture (Daltech).
Eyland married Pam Perkins in 1991.
He was diagnosed with "sarcoidosis," a lung disease that would lead to a double transplant in 2016.
Eyland: "Sarcoidosis is an unpredictable disease that can suddenly disappear or get worse. For me it was a gradual downhill slide. Pam had made fun of my cough because it reminded her of the movie star Hugh Grant's Chopin cough: she urged me to go to a doctor, which I eventually did."
Above: Pam Perkins, 1992, graphite on gessoed 1/8th" Masonite board,5"x3" (12.7x7.6 cm). Collection: Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Saint Mary's University Art Gallery in Halifax hosted a retrospective of Eyland's work in 1992 entitled The 100,000 Names of Art (16 MB PDF), curated by Leighton Davis and faciliatated by Gordon Laurin. The artist's book was made in an edition of 100 copies and included an essay by John Murchie as well as Eyland's art writing illustrated with ink drawings of other artist's work.
Eyland made paintings about his brother Terry who was "wilded" - that is randomly attacked - by thugs in Halifax. He also worked on paintings based on a drawing he had done of Catherine Gallagher, as mentioned, a few weeks before her 1988 death.
Eyland lived in Cambridge, England for eight months with Pam Perkins, who had a postdoctoral position. He received a $15,000 Canada Council grant. He studied Martin Gilbert's The Holocaust A Jewish Tragedy and Hobsbaum's The Making of the English Working Class. He made drawings but few paintings.
He curated an exhibition of Halifax sculptor John Greer's recent work for the Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum. The catalogue included an essay by Eyland about Greer's career.
He wrote about the artists Pam Hall, Gerard Collins, Blaine Arnot and Gerald Ferguson.
He gave a talk about his work at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
Eyland on Cambridge: "Cambridge was academic heaven, an ideal place to wander around and think."
1993-1994; Eyland participated in only one group exhibition in 1993, at Saint Francis Xavier University, and he curated only one exhibition, Dennis Gill: Now and Then, for Saint Mary's University Art Gallery in Halifax.
He had a solo show in 1994 of Recent Robots at Michael Lawlor's fledgling Gallery Sansair in Vancouver. He juried an open call exhibition at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum by "matching" his paintings as visual captions to works in the show. This idea was quite controversial.
He was a juror for the Nova Scotia Art Bank and he co-curated, with Sue Gibson Garvey, Uses of the Vernacular in Contemporary Nova Scotian Art at Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax about Nova Scotian folk art.
He wrote "Dada Data: Revival or What," for Arts Atlantic magazine about Jan Peacock's history of NSCAD video art. He may have the only person besides Peacock who viewed every tape.
Marlene Creates introduced Eyland to artist William Eakin at her Winnipeg Art Gallery exhibition opening, and Eakin became a friend and the first Winnipeg artist Eyland wrote about.
He was member of a Nova Scotia College of Art & Design presidential search committee in 1994. Alice Mansell was hired. Eyland: "She did well, She made the very best of an impossible job." He drew Mansell add search committee members during deliberations, and the drawings were later published in Prairie Fire magazine.
He met Winnipeg artist Diane Whitehouse on a Canada Council Visual Arts jury in Ottawa.
Eyland resigned his position at the Technical University of Nova Scotia Faculty of Architecture in order to move to Winnipeg with Pam Perkins on 1 August 1994. He painted and wrote full time, except for teaching at NSCAD in the summers, until 1998, when he was offered a term position at the University of Manitoba School of Art by interim director Steve Higgins to teach painting and to run the School's Gallery One One One. Eyland: "I was thrilled with the position: it was such a great opportunity. At the time it was temporary, but that meant I could take some risks. The School had long studio hours for students built in to the program, and an emphasis on production that reminded me of the tuition of the French academy. The basics had not changed for 50 or 60 years. Performance and New Media were accommodated, but the emphasis on painting and drawing made the school unique and that suited me fine."
Eyland's work was shown in Collective Viewing Selections from the Art Bank of Nova Scotia 1975-1995, at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, and at a new Winnipeg co-op SITE Gallery.
He wrote "Inside Out," about Sarah Crawley and William Eakin for aceartinc's "Critical Distance". He also wrote about Marlene Creates for Toronto's C Magazine and about William Eakin's Home Sweet Home for a catalogue to his the Southern Alberta Art Gallery (Lethbridge) exhibition. Eyland: " At the time Bill didn't do artist's talks, so I did one for him while he sat in the audience."
Eleanor Bond asked Eyland to join the board of Winnipeg's Plug In artist-run gallery in 1995. Plug In was on the Manitoba Arts Council's "concerned status," set for a large funding cut. Wayne Baerwaldt, Plug In's director/curator, had re-mortgaged his house to keep the organization going. Neil Minuk, board chair, and Wayne were the linchpins of the gallery. Alison Norlen was board member, as was filmmaker Noam Gonick and artist Christine Kerouac; Border Crossings's Meeka Walsh joined the board, as did Tim Schouten and others, including Marlene Stern.
Plug In generated controversy in the 1990s and 2000s. especially with their The Moral Imagination exhibition, a compendium of provocative works organised by Baerwaldt. Eyland: "A Winnipeg collector had lent Plug In some paintings by John Wayne Gacy, the executed child killer. The Winnipeg Sun, a local tabloid, put one of the Gacy images on its front page with screaming headlines about arts funding, which was at the time the paper's only arts topic. The contentious Gacy works were never shown, against my objections and the objections of some other board members who supported Plug In's right to show the work."
Eyland was on Plug In's board as vice-president until 2005, the highlight being 2001's Venice biennial project, a Plug In organized Janet Cardiff/George Bures Miller show at Canada's pavilion. Other high points included several Royal Art Lodge shows, a Beck/Al Hansen show, and an exhibition called Immense/Ordered/Deranged that Eyland curated for Plug In at Winnipeg's Cornish Library (see 1996).
Eyland: "Winnipeg encourages you to stay indoors - preferably in your basement and make a fantasy world for yourself. You can be an artist or a comic book collector or maybe a crank inventor - anything can happen because the cost of living is low. Winnipeg artists are ambitious and they work hard, and they are seldom jealous of each other."
Eyland had a tiny solo show in a Zippo lighter display case in 1996 called Scrapers at the Khyber Gallery in Halifax. Scrapers included abstract paintings in which paint was scraped up onto Masonite panels from a palette, or frost off a car window.
He had a solo show at Gallery Connexion in Fredericton, New Brunswick, entitled Wildlife for which he produced a file-card-sized catalogue. Ray Cronin, a board member of Gallery Connexion, interviewed Eyland for Canada's C Magazine. "Wildlife" included imaginary animals and people, including a fanciful painting of Wayne Gretzky.
He had a solo show called Empty Landscape Paintings 1981-96 at the Grande Prairie Art Gallery for which he also produced a 5"x3" catalogue.
An Eyland self-portrait owned by the Nova Scotia Art Bank called "Self-Portrait with Yellow Streak" was included in a Susan Foshay-curated exhibition of self-portraiture at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Eyland wrote an essay for this exhibition.
He visited Belfast on a "British Council Northern Irish Contemporary Art Study Tour," part of a peace effort that included curators from the United States and Canada. It was during this trip that he met Kathleen Goncharov, a curator at the New School for Social Research in New York].
He curated a large exhibition about Newfoundland art called Rethinking the Rural in Contemporary Newfoundland Art at the Art Gallery of Newfoundland & Labrador that involved studio visits across rhe island. The exhibition included work by Manfred Buchheit, Marlene Creates, Scott Goudie, Pam Hall, Marlene MacCallum, David Morrish, Beaty Popescu, Sharon Puddester: Leslie Sasaki, and Suzanne Swannie, and Eyland coined the term "rural readymade" to describe of some of the work.
He organised a group show for Plug In Inc. at the Cornish Library in Winnipeg called Immense/Ordered/Deranged that included Jo-Anne Balcaen, Richard Brown, Susan Chafe, Sarah Crawley, William Eakin, Shaun Gough, Patrick Hartnett, Patti Johnson, Jean Klimack, Doug Lewis, John Maclean, Erika MacPherson, Claire Marchand, Karri Moffatt, Debra Mosher, Kim Ouellette, Angela Somerset, Harry Symons, and Evan Tapper. The show travelled to the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax. He also curated Collins, Forster, Henderson, Klabunde, an exhibition of NSCAD Alumni, for the Anna Leonowens.
He wrote about Eva Stubbs, Richard Brown, Aganetha Dyck, Yvon Gallant, Suzanne Gauthier, Mary Joyce, and John Wayne Gacy in 1996.
In 1997, Eyland began the ongoing installation File Card Works Hidden in Books at the Raymond Fogelman Library at 65 Fifth Avenue, New York, sponsored by the New School University (formerly the New School for Social Research) and assisted by curator Kathleen Goncharov, who organised a reception, and Fogelman librarian Gail Persky, who gave him formal permissions. He hid hundreds original drawings in Fogelman books yearly until 2005, when the new librarian asked him to stop: "We pay people to take out what people like you put in," he said. (Eyland would like to continue this work when he again gets formal permission to proceed.) Robert McGee wrote about the show for Border Crossings magazine
He had a solo exhibition at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax called Retouched Reproductions. The works were 11"x17" colour photocopies made from original file card paintings with bits of acrylic paint added to the paper reproductions. NSCAD faculty member Jerry Ferguson hated the show and let Eyland know it.
He had a solo exhibition in 1997 at Site Gallery in Winnipeg entitled Indices. He participated in a two-person exhibition at the Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John's, Newfoundland with Mark Marstars. He wrote about wildlife art and Kelly Clark for Border Crossings magazine, and about Betty Spackman/Anja Westerfrolke for the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and Border Crossings magazine. He curated a Harry Symons exhibition for Plug In: see Harry Symons.
He taught during the summer months (1997/1998/1999) at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design.
Eyland on teaching summers at NSCAD: "Jerry Ferguson hired me, and I'll owe him forever for that. Summers were a regular term at NSCAD, full of energy and fun. I love Halifax the way everybody loves their hometown. One summer I organised a trip for NSCAD students to Prince Edward Island with Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum Director Terry Graff's help. Making art on summer beaches was bliss."
Eyland had a solo exhibition Inventoryof recent work in 1998 at the artist-run co-operative gallery Site in Winnipeg. He had a solo show The ID Paintings at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, curated by Shirley Madill. Eric Cameron and Doug Lewis wrote catalogue essays for the catalogue.
He collaborated with Prince Edward Island poet Joseph Sherman on an exhibition of poems and paintings for the Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum entitled Wallenberg Country and the show was acquired the Confederation Centre's permanent collection.
The University of Manitoba's School of Art Interim Director Steve Higgins hired Eyland as an assistant professor of painting and interim director of Gallery One One One. Term positions have two-year limits at the University of Manitoba, so Eyland was offered a one-year lectureship after that. In 2001 the position went "tenure track," meaning that a national search and application process was initiated, and Eyland won its in 2001.
Eyland organised a show of four Belfast artists at Plug In Inc. NI Gulp on the basis of research done with Alison Norlen in 1996. He lent his apartment to the artists but never saw the show because he was in Halifax taeching.
He collaborated with Andrew Hunter on drawings for a little publication entitled Billy's Vision. Neither Hunter nor Eyland were happy with the results.
With Peter Dykhuis, he curated a group exhibition of contemporary abstract painting entitled Monitor Goo: Abstract Painting in the Age of Video that included young New York-based Canadian artists Dell Sala, Kym Greeley, Shannon Finley, Rachel Beach, and Dan Rushton, and older Winnipeg artists Bruce Head, Winston Leathers and Don Reichert.
He curated his first show for Gallery One One One at the University of Manitoba, a solo show of the work of Halifax painter Alex Livingston.
Eyland visited Lethbridge, Alberta to give a lecture about his work.
He wrote about Kelly Mark and Ted Howorth. His drawings were reproduced in the Autumn edition of Winnipeg's Prairie Fire magazine. He wrote a piece called Romancing the Edge for Border Crossings magazine.
Beginning in 1998 he visited Minneapolis and Chicago as part of the annual School of Art trip. His pattern of travel after 1998 has him visiting Minneapolis, Chicago and New York yearly until the 2000's, the east coast of Canada almost yearly, and other places yearly, including New York.
He became chair of the School of Art's painting area 1998-2000.
In 1999 Eyland had a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, curated by Christina Ritchie, entitled Excerpts/Inserts. Ritchie and Donald Rance wrote essays for the brochure. The work was MDF blocks painted to look like nineteenth-century books and a file cabinet (since destroyed) of photocopies of handmade reference cards to books in the Art Gallery of Ontario's Taylor Library. A permanent installation of pencil drawings hidden in books and files also happened at the Taylor library and the AGO archives.
The show opened during a period of labour unrest at the AGO, and Eyland joined the picket line during the opening reception of his show. Eyland: "Matthew Tietelbaum, the AGO's Director, was quite brave in coming out to the picket line to talk to me. I marched with the picketers to show solidarity, braving the catcalls of my wife's relatives at the AGO's steps, but I did eventually go to the gallery."
He had a solo show at the Muttart Gallery (soon to be renamed The Art Gallery of Calgary), curated by Kay Burns, in which drawings were hidden in books in the adjacent public library. Eyland: "My former NSCAD instructor Eric Cameron came to the opening and immediately found some drawings. He guessed my file card hiding preferences very well."
He had his first two solo exhibitions at Toronto's Leo Kamen Gallery in 1999, entitled Inventory, which included 300 paintings, and Sexual Healing, which included erotic art. He got along very well with Kamen, and the pair would have lively discussions. Sadly Kamen gave up his gallery in the late 2000's.
He showed With Claire Marchand at St. Norbert Arts and Cultural Centre, in a show called The Miracle of Saint Norbert, for which the artists produced a 5"x3" booklet.
Eyland taught during the summer at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design.
He wrote about David Askevold, Harold Klunder, Shanghai artists, Helen Sadler and Belfast artists.
Eyland had a solo exhibition in 2000 at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia entitled Labels (September to December) organised by Virginia Stephen. It included works he made during his summer residency at the gallery used as "visual labels" for works in the permanent collection. They were displayed next to the gallery's regular text labels. He also showed other "label" works in a set of black rooms at the AGNS, which jibed with his longstanding interest in "illustrating nothing."
Eyland's solo show at the Art Gallery of Ontario continued (8 December 1999 to 27 February 2000). As mentioned, a concurrent exhibition happened at Leo Kamen Gallery.
He was included in a group show about conceptual art at the library of the National Gallery of Canada entitled Halifax Proposals, curated by Peter Trepanier in conjunction with a solo exhibition of the work of Gary Neill Kennedy.
He participated in a group exhibition at the Cumberland Museum in Amherst, Nova Scotia called Making Good, with Susan Woods and Jim MacSwain. Several of his paintings were stolen and have yet to be recovered.
He had a two-person show with Alec Shepley at the Manchester Metropolitan University Gallery in England entitled Better World Space, curated by John Hyatt.
The Halifax artist/curator Caroline Chan included Eyland's work in an exhibition at an ancient "Martello Tower" military fortification in Halifax: the show was called Martello Tower.
The artist's father Ronald James Eyland died on 7 November, artist's birthday.
Eyland curated exhibitions about the work of Cecile Clayton Gouthro, Lezli Rubin-Kunda, Sharon Alward and Eduardo Aquino for Gallery One One One.
He wrote about Icelandic art, about a group of Canadian artists who visited Newfoundland, and about the artists Vanessa Paschakarnis, David Miller, Eleanor Bond, Kelly Mark, Diane Whitehouse, Monica Tap, Richard Williams, (and for a Winnipeg Art Gallery group show catalogue:) Paul Butler, Daniel Dueck, Jacek Kosciuk, Marcel Dzama, Blair Marten, Jean Klimack, Christina Kirouac, Lori Rogers and Jake Moore.
He met the artist Carolee Schneemann. They became friends and he began to study her work.
Eyland spent the summer of 2001 in New York City with Charmaine Wheatley at her Chelsea loft. He made many Adobe Illustrator drawings based on pencil sketches, work he showed at Leo Kamen Gallery later that year in the exhibition Retouched Reproductions.
He visited the World Trade Center's Windows on the World bar with Dominique Rey. Eyland: "I had invited several Winnipeg artists to New York that summer, and my intention was to take them to the Windows bar, but it turned out that only Dominique and I made it."
He also visited Venice as vice-president of Plug In ICA to assist with the Canadian pavilion at the Venice Biennial, which featured an award-winning work by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.
He visited the Orkney Islands with Pam Perkins, Kirsteen McCue, David Hamilton and their children Dora and Gregor.
He had a solo exhibition in Brandon, Manitoba, curated by Chris Reid called File Card Sort. He distributed original drawings in the pockets of the exhibition's publication. It was one of his favourite catalogues.
His work appeared in a group exhibition about NSCAD at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia entitled Second Century, curated by Ray Cronin, who had moved from Gallery Connexion and freelancing to eventually director the Art gallery of Nove Scotia. He participated in a group exhibition at The Other Gallery in Winnipeg. His work appeared in the Florence Biennial, a vanity biennial to which Eyland contributed reproductions of an image of his father on his deathbed.
The same image appeared on the cover of the literary journal The Malahat Review and was ridiculed by the Globe & Mail's Lynn Crosbie, who was, quite sadly, an almost unknown species of humourless hater from Newfoundland. Eyland: "She will never be forgiven."
He curated a show of work by Charmaine Wheatley for Gallery One One One that travelled to the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery in Halifax, where a panel of art historians and critics, with Charmaine present, mercilessly humiliated their former student. Eyland: "They will also never be forgiven. The artist's resolve and defence of her work in the face of this appalling attack was her finest moment. I saw it as another infuriating instance of a few of the NSCAD post-conceptual crowd suppressing its young."
He also curated solo shows about Winnipeg's wunderkind collage party inventor Paul Butler, ex-pat printmaker Fred Liang, and Peter Yeadon for Gallery One One One, and he wrote about a controversial Cathy Mattes-curated Louis Riel exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery; the precocious Jamaican child artist Joe Clarence; and Monica Tap for Arts Atlantic magazine.
He explained his rationale for pricing his paintings in an anthology edited by Sally McKay and Andrew Patterson for YYZ Books entitled Money, Value, Art in an essay called "Mixed Funding, Mixed Markets, Little Pictures."
Soundtrack, 2001: Red House Painters, Le Tigre, and whatever was current in Chelsea.
In 2002 Eyland wrote a proposal for a Masters of Fine Arts program for the University of Manitoba School of Art with the advice of Dale Amundson, Sharon Alward and Alex Poruchnyk. He attended a Paul Butler collage party at the Toronto Art Fair and Shirley Thompson, former director of the National Gallery, bought a file card drawing of his for by handing him a crisp $50 bill - his first sale of a file card drawing.
He curated solo exhibitions at Gallery One One One of work by Bev Pike, Dominique Rey and Micah Lexier. A version of his curatorial essay about Germaine Koh was published in Border Crossings magazine, and he wrote about Gerald Ferguson, William Eakin/Robert Epp, Rosalie Favell, Chris Dorosz, and for the St. Norbert Arts Centre "Sleeping Under Stars."
He participated in a group exhibition at the Michael Gibson Gallery in London, Ontario, and in the New York exhibition The Free Biennial, which brought attention to his Raymond Fogelman Library project. Andrew Hunter'sBilly's Vision toured to the Mendel Gallery in Saskatoon, the National Gallery of Canada, and other venues. Eyland's photographs of the 2001 Venice Biennial were shown in the Plug In ICA exhibition Back in the Day, a documentary show about the history of Plug In.
Eyland gave a paper in 2003 entitled "Painting the Multiverse" at the annual Universities Art Association of Canada conference about contemporary theoretical physics and art, urging artists to think about the art implications of multiverse theories. (A multiverse idea also informed Eyland's scheme for his 2004-05 Winnipeg Millennium Library Wall commission.)
He showed what he called "brick paintings" at Leo Kamen Gallery. Brick paintings are cellphone-like works meant to be heavy enough to throw through a window, perhaps with a message attached. The Brick Paintings Set was a Western Finalist in a national painting competition and tour sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada and The Canadian Art Foundation.
A small survey of his abstract paintings was shown in From AbEx to Pomo, curated by Susan Gibson Garvey, at Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax. He participated in an exhibition in New York entitled Bookworks at Exspace Gallery.
With Carol Phillips of Plug In ICA, Eyland curated YWA: Young Winnipeg Artists that included paintings by Roger Crait, Simon Hughes, Jake Kosciuk, Shaun Morin, Melanie Rocan, and Lisa Wood; installation art by KC Adams, Risa Horowitz, and Erika Lincoln; photo-based work by Dominique Rey, Les Newman, Chris MacDonald and Veronica Preweda; and mixed media work by Parminder Obhi and Cyrus Smith.
For Gallery One One One he curated an exhibition about the public art of Bernie Miller and Alan Tregebov; a show about the Woodland School artists Joshim and Goyce Kakegamic; and an exhibition about the New York artist Myrel Chernick.
He curated an exhibition about the work of three recent School of Art graduates Agatha Doerksen, Anne Dunlop, and Corliss van Caeseele at the McDermot Adelaide Gallery in Winnipeg.
Eyland formed a performance/rock/pose band (initiated by Dominique Rey) with Tannis Kohut and Dominique Rey called the "The Abzurbs" (2003-2013) in order to participate in a performance event at aceartinc in Winnipeg. The Abzurbs also made visual art. William Eakin joined the band soon after its inception as a "musician" who "played" cameras, and his work formed the band's legacy. Later Vanessa Rigaux, Florain Lassnig, Ryan Ahoff, Lancelot Coar, Craig Love, Rachael Schappert, and Kevin Kelley joined the band, either as a "flavour" of the month, the year, or the millennium, or as more-or-less permanent members. Eyland: "We had a grand old time, until we realised that American newcomer Ryan Trecartin was unwittingly pouching on our real estate. We may have been first in with a certain sensibility, but New York can always come up with something similar that can crush a lowly Winnipeg provincial's ambitions. Carry on, anyway, we said, and we did so until around 2013 or 14."
Eyland curated a group exhibition at Gallery One One One about Canadian process painting entitled Newton's Prism: Layer Painting, a curatorial investigation that he will continue.
He wrote about the artists William Eakin, William Pura and Paul Butler.
In 2004 Eyland received a commission to put hundreds of paintings on a wall in the new
His work was included in a painting exhibition at Winnipeg's aceartinc called Bound.
He gave an artist's talk at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design.
Eyland did a lecture/performance entitled "What it Feels like to be an Artist/What it Feels like to be a Curator" with Denise Miller and Jenny Koslowsky at Plug In. He participated in a performance work by Geoffrey Hendricks entitled "Question: a Circle?" at the School of Art by reading his own aphorisms prefaced with the phrase "I dreamed."
He interviewed Winston Leathers and wrote about a student art show called One Month Free Rent. He also wrote about Gallery One One One's Gothic Unconscious after curator Sigrid Dahle refused to do so; about the photographer Richard Holden; and about the artists John Armstrong and Paul Collins.
He contributed original drawings to an Eye Level Gallery (Halifax) project called Paperwork 30.
He was co-chair of the UofM School of Art's Painting Area in 2004.
In 2005 Eyland had a solo exhibition at Leo Kamen Gallery entitled Note Paintings (12 February to 5 March) in which paintings were accompanied by poetic notes.
He had a solo show called Atomically Gobsmacked at the Art Gallery of the Southern Okanogan (recently renamed the Art Gallery of Penticton) in British Columbia, curated by Curtis Collins. The show consisted of only a few works, one per wall. Eyland: "This exhibition made me very happy and I have always been grateful to Collins for it. As a curator he has great instincts about installations, and he did not hesitate at having this solo show feature only a few 3"x5" works."
Group shows in 2005 included I AM - Self Portraits - A Tribute To Lynn Donoghue at James Baird Gallery, St. John's, Newfoundland; Night of a Thousand Drawings (invited, fund raiser) Artists Space, New York City; Winnipeg Library Competition Maquettes, at aceartinc, Winnipeg; and Threeway at Cream Gallery with Craig Love and Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline.
He resigned from Plug In ICA because of uncertain health and his unwillingness to participate in a capital campaign to build Plug In a permanent home.
Eyland's Untitled Winnipeg Millennium Library installation opened on 7 November, his birthday, and the anniversary of his father's death in the year 2000.
Broken Pencil magazine printed a photograph of the Abzurbs on its cover.
Kristine Perlmutter wrote an article "'A Silva Rerum' (A Forest of Things): The Art of Cliff Eyland," for The Icelandic Canadian on the assumption that Eyland is Icelandic. (Eyland considers himself "Icelandish" not Icelandic.) Eyland: "A 2016 ancestry.com DNA analysis, for whatever that's worth, has me more Jewish than Scandinavian, and more Western European and Irish than English(!) even though "Eyland" is an Icelandic name and the family likely came to England as Normans (Norse)."
He curated a Gallery One One One exhibition about Art School Director Celia Rabinovitch's, work that was met with hostility; and a Richard Williams show that was received more warmly, largely because of his recent erotic art.
He interviewed Vibeke Sorenson about her Gallery One One One show. Eylnand: "What I could not address at the time was the fact that she was under surveillance by the U.S. Homeland Security people because of her involvement in developing early versions of photoshop: they wanted her to work for them and she refused. Eventually she left the United States." Eyland wrote about a Joseph Albers exhibition; for a London, Ontario show about contemporary Canadian drawing; about Gordon Lebredt, KC Adams; Ivan Eyre; Alex Colville and Dusen Kadlec.
Eyland and Pam Perkins bought a house on McMillan Avenue in Winnipeg's Corydon district in 2005 courtesy his Millennium Library comission and her savings, a first for both of them. They furnished it with a television set, a laundry room, and a high-speed modem - all new things in the artist's life. Eyland also kept his studio on the 5th floor of 75 Albert Street until 2013, when he leased a much larger space at 70 Arthur.
In 2006 Eyland visited Iceland for the first time. He loved it.
He had an exhibition of his "mobiles" (smart phones) called Cameras, Cellphones and Hard Drives at Gallery 1C03 at the University of Winnipeg, (22 September to 21 October), curated by Donna Jones and Jennifer Gibson. This show happened just before the introduction of Apple's iPhone, which combined the functions of telephones, (cloud) hard drives, and cameras. He participated in an exhibition with Craig Love at Janet Rosen's 803 Gallery.
He began to write regular reports on Winnipeg art for the Toronto-based online magazine Akimbo.ca in an informal exchange for ads for Gallery One One One. (His last writing for Akimbo happened in 2010.)
Eyland's art, and that of his band The Abzurbs, was profiled in an overview of Winnipeg art by Robert Enright and Guy Maddin in Britain's Frieze magazine.
He participated in a fund-raising concert with the Abzurbs for Platform Gallery in Winnipeg in 2010 that became a video edited by Jennifer Stillwell.
He curated exhibitions about the Winnipeg art collective Two Six, a solo KC Adams exhibition, and a group show at Winnipeg's Outworks Gallery entitled Take this You... that included Karen Wardle, Aleem Khan, Sarah Johnston (not Sarah Anne Johnson), Jessica Perry, Jordan Miller, andClyde Finlay. He wrote about Sarah Anne Johnson and Shaan Syed for Border Crossings magazine, and about Gordon Lebredt for Gallery One One One.
Eyland developed two new media courses for the School of Art entitled: "Current Debates in New Media" and "Foundations in New Media."
Eyland's 2007 solo show at Leo Kamen Gallery in Toronto was Party Pictures. It opened to mostly negative reviews.
He organised, for Urban Shaman Gallery, the exhibition Plastic Woodland that included aboriginal University of Manitoba students Peter Prince, Jackie Traverse, Jamie Fougere, Joan Larson and Suzanne Morrisette.
Eyland gave a talk to Canadian university art gallery staff in Montreal, with Gallery One One One's Gallerist Robert Epp, that advocated website and electronic publications for public galleries. He also spoke at the annual meeting of Canadian Artists Representation in favour of a mixed economy of art objects and "performative" installations.
He visited Carolee Schneemann in Montreal in order research on an upcoming 2011 exhibition about her.
He curated, for Gallery One One One, a solo exhibition of work by Kathleen Fonseca, and a group show that included work by Eleanor Bond, Aganetha Dyck, Wanda Koop, and Diana Thorneycroft. He put together an "Art School Anatomies" team with Jeanne Randolph, Dick Averns, Natalija Subotincic and others, and he wrote an essay with Jeanne Randolph about art school. This project led to Randolph and Eyland's "Your Own Grad School" road show.
He wrote about the abstract painter Melanie Authier for Border Crossings magazine.
He visited Iceland again.
85 original Eyland drawings were included in The Swag Bag project, organised by Kerri-Lynn Reeves.
Eyland's work was shown at Calgary's Nickle Arts Museum in 2008 as part of a city-wide exhibition of recent Glenbow Museum acquisitions.
The Winnipeg Art Gallery acquired 96 of Eyland's works in 2008. View a PDF of the works here.
His work was included in a ten-year retrospective catalogue of the annual national RBC Painting Competition, and in an "Alphabestiary" published by Border Crossings magazine.
He put together an Art School Anatomies, symposium with Jeanne Randolph, Dick Averns, Morris Wolfe and Marilyn Baker in which the past, present and future of art schools is discussed. This effort led to Dr. Jeanne Randolph and Eyland collaborating on a pedagogical practice called "Your Own Grad School.
He curated Gallery One One One exhibitions about Stephen Grimmer, Kevin Kelly, Steven Nunoda, Alex Poruchnyk and Kirk Warren (Maze); Richard Condie (co-curated with Shelley Sweeney); Sarah Crawley, Sarah Anne Johnson, Lisa Stinner, Craig Love, Johanna Schmidt, Lisa Wood, Derek Brueckner, Susan Close, Karen Hibbard, and Bruce Kirton (Revolver).
He wrote, for Border Crossings magazine, about Karel Funk and Tim Gardner, about Derek Sullivan and about Natalija Subotincic.
He visited Iceland and delivered a paper about contemporary Icelandic art at the University of Iceland.
Eyland visited Newfoundland in 2009 with Pam Perkins for a month-long residency at the artist Colette Urban's Full Tilt Creative Centre near Corner Brook, where he made grey monochrome paintings on paper. He also stayed in St. John's where Kym Greeley lent him her studio. He made acrylic watercolour paintings of the harbour with depictions of contemporary art-looking sculptures in the foreground.
He showed Bookshelf File Cards at Leo Kamen Gallery in Toronto got attention from The Globe & Mail, The National Post, Canadian Art magazine, and many book and library related blogs. He made 12"x18" posters of some of the works.
He curated a series of group shows at Gallery One One One entitled Revolver (2008-09); a solo Les Newman exhibition; and an exhibition ofIcelandic artist Hannes Larusson, as well as an installation by Jeffrey Spalding, and an exhibition/work entitled The Border Crossings Study Centre.
He wrote about St. John's Newfoundland, among other things, for Akimbo.ca.
2010: Eyland took his first sabbatical (January to July) since being hired by UofM in 1998.
He received a Manitoba Arts Council grant in 2009 that he used in 2010 to begin organizing his archives and to prepare retrospective sets of his works for distribution to museums, archives and art galleries. He hired librarian Janet Rothney, photographer William Eakin and cabinet maker Adrian Schimnowski to help him with the beginnings of this long-term project.
He made hundreds of paintings during his sabbatical months that included new sets called "meditation blocks," "crosses of Faith and Lost Faith," "monoliths," and "dreamers." He also made more "Abdroids," "landscapes with art," "typical landscapes," and "bookshelf file cards," as well as many drawings and paintings on miscellaneous subjects. Eyland collaborated with The Abzurbs in appearances at various locations in Manitoba as part of Lancelot Coar's en route architectural/performance project.
Eyland started to make 12"x18" PDF/print-out books. They are called "wall books" because they are large loose-leaf things that can be mounted on walls for exhibition. Eyland and several friends collaborated on a book with the Icelandic writer Birna Bjarnadottir, a book designed by Eyland with an introduction by George Toles and illustrations by Eyland, Maddin, and Haraldur Jonsson. Eyland also collaborated with philosopher Carl Matheson on a book of aphorisms. The Bjarnadottir book of fragments was shown in Reykjavik at the City Library (August-September, 2010) and the Nordic House (May-June, 2010). The Guy Maddin/Cliff Eyland collaborations were shown and sold at a Plug In ICA fundraiser, and an article by Robert Enright about the Maddin/Eyland work appeared in Border Crossings magazine. Eyland showed the Bjarnadottir, Maddin, Matheson and other PDF/print-out books at the 2010 New York Art Book Fair at PS1 in November 2010. Eyland began to make retrospective PDF books about his own work in many sizes that were intended to be posted online and included in proposals for future exhibitions.
He curated exhibitions about Carolee Schneemann and Jillian Mcdonald for Gallery One One One in collaboration with curatorial advisor Alex Poruchnyk. He wrote a review of Wanda Koop's Winnipeg Art Gallery retrospective for Galleries West magazine, and about Kegan McFadden for Border Crossings. He continued to write reports from Winnipeg for Akimbo.ca (until 2010).
A page from Eyland's collaboration with Carl Matheson was included in a travelling Plug In ICA exhibition called FAX. One of his "cellphone" paintings was reproduced on the cover of an issue of Prairie Fire magazine. He showed his paintings in group exhibitions at Twist Gallery in Winnipeg. One of his works - entitled Xmas Beast - was acquired by the Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of a group of artists' works called The Alphabestiary. He updated his Winnipeg Millennium Library installation by spending a couple of weeks adding new paintings to the wall.
Eyland entered the lung transplant assessment program of Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre in 2010 and was assessed for a transplant in 2012 (he would receive a double lung transplant on 26 November 2017). He asked to be relieved of his duties as Director of Gallery One One One as of 31 December 2010, partly as the result of an academic freedom dispute with the School's director and partly for health reasons. His appointment as a painting/studio professor at the School of Art was expanded by one course to compensate. He agreed with many of the changes that the new Director had made in the School but was opposed to the Director's micromanagement of staff and School business. The School of Art had been transformed from something unique to just another art school in order to meet the current standard of international art school mediocrity and uniformity. Very little of value was saved, and although Eyland considered the new staff to be first-rate, he will always regret certain changes. Eyland: "That's life."
Eyland launched his own website in 2010: www.cliffeyland.com. Previously his website had been part of the Gallery One One One website hosted by servers at the University of Manitoba.
He was involved in several group exhibitions in 2011, including the travelling Winnipeg Art Gallery show called Bestial Encounters, 1 April to 12 June.
Howard Gurevich Fine Art in Winnipeg hosted a solo exhibition in September 2011 entitled "Cliff Eyland: Books and Graffiti Book Paintings."(Download the Gurevich press release here.)
Eyland was in two group exhibitions at Katzman Kamen Gallery in 2011. Click for a PDF of the contents of the "Library Book Box", shown in 26 March to 3 April, 2011 in a show called Faves.
The Abzurbs performed and exhibited at Prairie Scene at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa and at Axeneo7 in Gatineau at the end of April 2011 in a show curated by Kegan McFadden: This Picasa page has performance photos by William Eakin and images of paintings Eyland showed at Axeneo7.
Saint Mary's University Art Gallery in Halifax acquired works by Eyland in 2011. Click here to download a PDF of the loose leaf book pages that accompanied the works.
He won, and began working on, a commission of $70,000 from Edmonton Arts Council to install a set of 1200 paintings in the new Meadows Library. He received a $2600 Endowment Grant from the University of Manitoba School of Art for a Gallery One One One Archives Project to scan copies of Gallery One One One print catalogues, and a $2500 Creative Works University of Manitoba grant to print copies of his 12”x18” artist "wall book" pages.
Eyland visited Paris and Ottawa in 2012 to participate in several openings and events related to an overview exhibition My Winnipeg and Winter Kept Us Warm at la maison rouge (23 June to 25 September 2011), Paris and at MIAM (Musée International des Arts Modestes), Sète, France (November 5, 2011 to May 20, 2012); and in Ottawa and Winnipeg (December 15, 2012 to January 20, 2013).
He continued to work on a painting commission for the Edmonton Meadows Library in 2012.
He had a solo residency/exhibition/installation National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives, Ottawa in 2012: 1) Residency: 26 to 28 October
2) Vitrine exhibition 26 October to 22 December 2012
3) A permanent installation in National Gallery Library books and on a library bookshelf, curated by Peter Trepanier. Trepanier had been a loving supporter of Eyland's work since Michael Fernandes got him to agree to put an original drawing in every copy of an issue of the monthly
Eyland had a solo exhibition L'il Monoliths Paintings and a Book), at the Anna Leonowens Gallery, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, Halifax, July 09 to 21, 2012, and he did an artist’s residency and talk, organized by Alex Livingston, at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design. However, he found the stairs at NSCAD too hard to climb because his lung condition, and so he spent little time there. He did do a memorable set of student crits with Alyssa Robichaud during his stay. Robichaud also wrote an essay about Eyland's work that has yet (as of February 2017) to be published.
He participated in group exhibitions at the Howard Gurevich Gallery in Winnipeg and the Katzman Kamen Gallery in Toronto; in a show called Phantasmagoria at the Dalnavert Museum, 17 October to 4 November, Winnipeg, Curated by Jennifer Bisch; in a show called Bestial Encounters, Curated by Mary Reid, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1 April to 12 June 2011, which travelled to University of Lethbridge Art Gallery 12 January to 1 March 1, 2012 and to other venues, in Feast at The Winnipeg Art Gallery, 28 October 2011 to 25 March 2012; and in There's No Place Like Home, Plug In ICA, Winnipeg, curated by Sigrid Dahle. Dahle also asked Eyland to secretly install hundreds of original drawings in books in a reading room she constructed for this exhibition.
Eyland wrote an essay about Manitoban art for the publication/exhibition Oh, Canada, edited by Denise Markonish, Cambridge/London: The MIT Press, 2012, 158-159.
He reviewed Garry Neill Kennedy's The Last Art College: Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1968-1978, for Border Crossings magazine in 2012, and he wrote about Robert Taite and a Gallery 1C03 entitled Life’s Little Tragedies, by Glen Johnson and Leslie Supnet for gallerieswest.
Eyland taught Curatorial Studies, Interdisciplinary Crit 2, and Senior Studio 1 (team taught with Erica Mendritzki) in 2013.
He went on sick leave from the School of Art September 14 to October 31 2013 because of a collapsed lung. Eyland "I asked the emergency ward doctor how often this procedure was done and he said several times a night to treat stab and bullet wounds. Later on a nurse in the emergency ward told me that the most stabbing victims they had ever seen in one night was 17"
He was delighted to teach his first Small Format Painting Course in 2013, as well as the Honours Seminar, and Senior Studio classes (team taught with Erica Mendritzki) as well as a Special Topics course with Jessica Evans, and for grad student Corrie Peters, a course in Socially engaged art, social practice: relational art and its history and present-day manifestations.
Eyland completed a social media project in 2013 in collaboration George Toles that consisted of 1688 Facebook status updates, that is all the short stories by Toles published as status updates, illustrated. A gallery version of a few of these works was shown in Winnipeg at the McNally Robinson bookstore by Howard Gurevich Fine Art.
Eyland and Dr. Jeanne Randolph conducted a pedagogical experiment called “Your Own Grad School” at the Modern Fuel Gallery in Kingston, Ontario in 2013, an extension of their Art School Ananatomies project. They will go on to do this at Eastern Edge Gallery in August 2014.
Eyland opened an experimental gallery next to his downtown Winnipeg studio space called Library. Exhibition openings, when exhibitions happen, are always scheduled on the First Friday of every month when a co-ordinated city-wide set of openings occurs.
He continued work on his archives, which he will donate to the University of Manitoba's Archives and Special Collections beginning in 2015.
He received a $70,000 commission from the Edmonton Arts Council to create 1200 3”x5” paintings on a wall in the new Meadows Library in Edmonton, 600 ofwhich he installed in May 2014. EYSLND: "The location of the insta;lation wall was changed and so only 600 paintings were installed. the rest of the works are still in the Edmonton arts council offices.
He received a $430,000 commission from the Halifax Central Library in 2013 for an installation of 5000 paintings, and he worked on this commission during his 2014 sabbatical.
He participated in the group show Lacavore: Works from the NSCAD Community in the Dalhousie Art Gallery Permanent Collection, Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax, 4 June to 7 July, Selected by Peter Dykhuis, and in Peep Showat La Maison Des Artistes, Winnipeg, 20 June to 30 August, curated by Matt Bohemier.
Eyland continued to produce 12"x18" loose-leaf artist publications during 2013, when the "wall books" became a permanent part of his everyday art making.
An online interview of Eyland by Jennifer McMackon happened: http://simpleposie.blogspot.ca/2013/08/the-simpleposie-devils-dozen-13_4836.html 29 August 2013
Eyland was a Canadian Artists Representation Mentor in Residence in 2013, a task that involved lectures and 32 studio visits over a period of two weeks in Regina, Saskatoon and Moose Jaw.
Elissa Barnard wrote "New library to get 5000 tiny paintings," for the Halifax The Chronicle Herald on 9 March 2013, online at: http://thechronicleherald.ca/artslife/923980-new-library-to-get-5000-tiny-paintings
Steven Leyden Cochrane wrote "Fire in the Hole" for Winnipeg's Uptown magazine, 5 September 2013, 14
Fabien Deglise wrote about Eyland's "born digital" contribution to the Artexte collection in Le Devoir (French), "Un entrepot numérique pour l'univers de l'art" 11 February 2013 online at: http://www.ledevoir.com/culture/arts-visuels/370564/un-entrepot-numerique-pour-l-univers-de-l-art-contemporain
Martin Golland wrote about Eyland's National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives residency/show/installation for Border Crossings magazine, issue 126, June, July, August 2013, 139-140
Angela Mombourquette wrote about Eyland's upcoming Halifax Central Library project: "Eyland's library art to probe institution's changing face," Halifax: The Chronicle Herald, 11 March 2013 online at: http://thechronicleherald.ca/hcw/942742-mombourquette-eyland-s-library-art-to-probe-institution-s-changing-face-
Kara Passey wrote and article called "Accessible art for all" for The Manitoban, 4 September 2013, 16
Sarah Swan wrote "Art shatters our way of thinking," for the Winnipeg Free Press on 31 July 2013, B4 http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/art-shatters-our-way-of-thinking-217711801.html
Eyland was Third reader on Tara Evans Masters Thesis, Department of English, Theatre and Film, University of Manitoba
Eyland opened an exhibition space adjacent to his downtown studio called Library in October 2013.
Eyland was a Thesis committee advisor to Hassaan Ashraf and Lindsay Joy at the University of Manitoba School o art. He served the external tenure examiner for Syracuse University Department of Transmedia, Syracuse, New York; and he also an External Master’s of Fine Art Thesis examiner for Ned Bartlett of Department of Visual Arts, University of Regina.
He was also a Visiting Artist at the University of Regina.
He participated in a "Controversial Art" First Friday dialogue with Sarah Swan at the Free Press Cafe in Winnipeg on 2 August.
2014: was the busiest year of Eyland's life. His health broke down as his lung condition worsened, and he could barely walk. Despite pleas from his friends, including a strong argument from Janique Vigier, he travelled to Edmonton's Meadows Library and Halifax's Central Library by land in rental trucks to oversee the installation of his work. The assistance of project manager Craig Love and many other assistants including Ray Fenwick and Jessica Evans was invaluable to him, and he will always be grateful for the help. Eyland's problems led to a life-saving lung transplant on 26 November 2016. He considers his life after 2014 to be "an afterlife."