By Dee Dwyer
A young artist stands on a tall ladder that he erected in the Minas Basin. High tide swirls all around him as he prepares to jump off the ladder and swim back to shore. This is Andrew Maize, who is finishing up as a visiting artist in Musquodoboit Harbour in residency at the Railway Museum, the Old School, the Library and HRM, care of Visual Arts Nova Scotia(VANS).
The artist on a ladder at high tide is an apt metaphor, I believe, for the many ideas that Andrew raises in his artwork: the waters suggest the endless abundance of these ideas and his go-with-the-flow attitude about art, life, and their convergence.
Andrew was born in Calgary but raised in Toronto, in Cornwall, England, and outside of Barrie in Oro-Medonte (south-central Ontario), where his family had a hobby farm. His British grandfather, an architect, taught him drawing, and his parents encouraged his art. At sixteen, he had what he calls “a Eureka moment” when he watched an actor playing the famous abstract expressionist artist Jackson Pollock splash paint on a canvas.
Andrew was inspired by the gesture, the chance effect, and later worked with the gravity effect on paint. All the while he was painting and accumulating a number of abstract paintings. His mother said, “Hey, let’s have a show.” He did, and as a result Andrew sold his work, and received validation as an artist.
He studied for a year at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, and later “stumbled into an art gallery,” the Art Projects, where he auditioned for the Theatreworks, where he found a job through Young Canada Works. The year was 2006, and he spent most of that year acting, co-writing plays, and composing music. Two years later he came to Nova Scotia, via family connections, to study at NSCAD.
One instructor at the Art College was influential, Anna Sprague on the Eastern Shore. Sprague taught “Writing for the Arts” at NSCAD. She “pushed me and challenged me in my critical thinking and writing,” Andrew says, pushing his boundaries (remember Fundy’s abundance.) NSCAD also influenced Andrew in that he learned about sound, sculpture, and kite-making as areas of experimentation in his work.
I asked Andrew what drew him to Musquodoboit Harbour and the VANS residency. “I knew the area and had been out here on a canoe trip. We flipped the canoe,” he says with a smile. He had already told me some of his travels: a winter on Toronto Island, and four years in Lunenburg with residencies there. When he saw the VANS posting for a residency in Musquodoboit Harbour, he was drawn to it.
In the Van Gogh room in the basement of the Old School, Andrew shows me old photographs from the Railway Museum and his own long panoramic shots taken from trains—of freight trains, and flat landscapes. A few days later, on Friday, May 5, Andrew showed his work in the Old School’s Art Gallery. Some of the old photographs are now decorated with the maple leaves of the Canada 150 logo. He talks about railway posters, colonialism, and the railways’ role in the settling of Canada, and the era of tourism that produced the big hotels like Banff Springs.
Andrew’s residency will end soon, and he will travel by train across Canada. He will visit more railway museums and continue his exploration of Canada’s railway history. To see some of Andrew’s photographs and to read more about his travels and artwork, go to www.andrewmaize.ca. Happy Travels, Andrew!