May 1, 2008

Tom Burrows, Bio

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom Burrows @ 5:48 pm

” We are what we repeatedly do.” Aristotle ” Self-employed and disputes the boss.” T.B.

1 2 3, 1967, 5×6.8×3ft, oil on doorskin bronx h3-1r2bvcore No Sleep # 22 Weddell Sea Foster White

1. 1967 2. 1984 3. 2008 4. 2006 5. 2004 6. 2007

A formalist sculptor who’s life experiences have at times infused his art production with social narrative (the antitheses of formalism) through the media of architecture, music, painting, performance, photography, video and words etc. (i.e. life skills).

“Formalism, graph paper for the psyche.” T.B. Mnemonic

May 2017,  P1060824 Asalapha,polymer, 48×30 An Ineffable Presence 

Feb. 2014, “Moths drink the tears of sleeping birds Three pages explaining the titles of my most recent polymer series. Moth Moth, polymer, 48×30 inches.

Works illustrated Foster/White_2014Catalog . Violet Shift Violet Shift, porcelain, 44x22inches.

May 2012, Porcelain & I A six page essay giving a condensed overview of experiences since the mid 1960’s which led to current works in porcelain.

Links to videos of working with polyester, Hornby and porcelain, China

Tom Burrows Looking Back looking back: photo 2007, catalogue photo photo 1967

1940 Born in Kitchener (Berlin), Ontario. (see family tree 2001) Great-grandfather Tom Burrows 1833-1917 .jpg

1945-59 Primary and secondary education in Galt, Ontario (pop. 20,000, 1 hour west of Toronto). report-card .jpg

1949 Mary, an older sister who studied with artist Fred Varley, marries artist Toni Onley.Toni .jpg

1954 Mary dies age 23 of an unspecified cause.Mary .jpg

1955 Run-away to Detroit in the summer (like a moth to a litebulb) lured by the its black music and dance.Bob-Lo ferry .jpg

1960 Moves to Vancouver for pre-medical studies at the University of British Columbia.contortionist .jpg

Meets Huang Bau-Xi (Paul Wong) at Toni Onley’s studio.

1961-3 Travels around the world going west.fez .jpg Settles in London, England for one year.

Meets phd student Bob Rogers and expatriate artists Jerry Pethick and Robert Adrian (Smith).

Marries journalist Ida Carnevali.Kensington registry office .jpg

1964-7 B.A. in Art History at U.B.C.. Curatorial studies with Alvin Balkin. The Direction of My Work 1966
Meets Ian Wallace in Ian Baxter’s studio course and they begin to exhibit art that
is independent of their university studies (V.A.G. annual juried exhibitions 1965-6-7)

1965-67 Studio at 4th & Macdonald .jpg Against War Works: Homage to the Draft Card Burners on the wall, Johnny Comes Wheeling in the corner and Back Garden Bomb serving as a table. b.g.b .jpg These were followed by the first formalist works, Duo-chrome moduls .jpg Conjugality leading to Expo 69 (destroyed at the Habitat site in Expo 67) and the mono-chrome 123, the last work completed before leaving for Saint Martins, London.1 2 3, 1967, 5×6.8×3ft, oil on doorskin .jpg

1967 1967 Interview Dorothy Cameron includes Conjugality a polychrome modular sculpture in Sculpture ’67 a National Gallery exhibition on the lawn of the Toronto city hall. catalogue photo .jpg

1967-9 Post-graduate sculpture, St. Martins, London, England.
Shares studio/lab with Gilbert and George, also Richard Long.
First series of polymer panels cast at the Ladbrook Grove studio. early-panel .jpg ~4x4ft, *cast polymer resin, 1 inch thick, hollow-core.* early panel pdf
Squatter movement and situationist connections.situationist/skwat .jpg

1969 Son Elisha is born.Elisha .jpg
Exhibits polymer panels at Galleria Ariete, Milan in a group show with Brower Hatcher & Hamish Fulton.

1969-72 North Vancouver Mud Flats, squatter studio-residence and sculpture series.mud-house .jpg

1970 Shares an exhibition with Ian Wallace at the Bau-Xi Gallery

bridge-walk .jpg Bridge Walk a.k.a. The Return of Malcolm Lowry, performance. Bridge Walk

Assists Mike Morris to guide Alvin on his first (and only) LSD experience.

1971 living-art .jpg December, the same building inspector who bulldozed Malcolm Lowery’s squat in 1954 tourches the mudflats cabin.mud-burn .jpg

1972 Begins to design and hand-build a studio residence on Hornby Island. cliff-top-mound .jpg hornby-house .jpg

1973 Sandpile, an interactive colour video sculpture at V.A.G. and M.O.M.A., Paris.sandpile .jpg

1970-74 A founding faculty member of the B.F.A. program, U.B.C.. Acting B.F.A. chair 1972-3. Fred Herzog teaches photography.
Interacts with students Rodney Graham, Scott Watson, Theodor (Saskatche)Wan, Jim Cadwaladr, Bryan (Trolly) Mulvihill, Rob Kleyn, Frank (Ramerz) Johnson etc..
Exhibits with Ian Wallace and Jeff Wall at U.B.C. gallery. mattress .jpg
Meets Ron & Anna Hunt.

1974 Separates from Ida. Leaves institutional life. Moves to Hornby Island, five hours by car and ferry
from Vancouver. Continues to build the studio-residence, which is retained to this day.
It is featured in several architectural journals as well as Charles Jenks 1982 opus,
Architecture Today. photo by Matt Smith hornby-house-pan .jpg

1974-94 Supports art-habit by occasional work as a commercial fisherman, lecturer, carpenter,
welder, photojournalist, ornamental plasterer, prop maker, art director, landscaper,
stone mason, etc.longliner .jpg halibut long-liner pdf

1974-76 Temptations of Mao Tse Tung, sculpture series, exhibited at Pender St. Gallery, 1976. pender .jpg

1974-84 Skwat Doc, an evolving socio-architectural sculpture. skwat-doc .jpg

1976 Co-ordinates material relating to squatting at the World Habitat Forum in Vancouver which
leads to a seven-month photo text documentation tour in Europe, Africa and Asia for the United
Nations (travels around the world going east). European Skwat Dialogue, 3rd World Skwat Dialogue

I977 Begins a twenty-five year relationship with poet Kate Van Dusen. Kate .jpg Worm Cast for Kate .jpg cerca 1984.

1981 Skwat Doc exhibited interactively in European squatting centers.

1984 Skwat Doc at the International Bauausstellung, Berlin.
Berlin/South Bronx Transfer, squatter graffiti transfer, Fashion Moda Gallery, N.Y.C. bronx .jpg, pages 10-13 border-lines-no-3

1980-90 Dialectical Totems, sculpture series.

1985 Portrait by Joan Payne. portrait .jpg

1986 Moves to Toronto, lectures in U.of T. studio program, resigns after one term.
Meets Jack Jeffrey. Sets up a studio-residence in Kensington Market and associates
with the Cameron House artists group, Jaan Poldaas, Rick Evans etc.

1988 Joins the Isaacs Gallery, Toronto, exhibits Dialectical Totems. Isaacs gallery ,jpg

1990 Begins to work almost exclusively with cast polymer panels. drawn objects .jpg*cast polymer resin, 1 inch thick, hollow-core.*

1991 Toronto recession hits, Isaacs Gallery closes, returns to Hornby Island.
Sets up a studio residence in Vancouver

1994 Finally gives up day job(s).

Drawn Objects and Blanket Statements Exhibition of polymer panels at the Canadian embassy in Tokyo. Tokyo embassy ,jpg 4×4 modules *

Hematoma series. hematoma double brown .jpg *

Meets Tom Cone at a Boulez concert, become close friends.

1995 Joins the Bau-Xi Galleries in Vancouver and Toronto.

1997 Silk Road series. Lop Nor .jpg

Art production 1965-84 is the subject of a U.B.C. art history M.A. thesis. Andrea Anderson’s “Sculpture of Concrete, Sculpture of Dreams or, looking for the utopian in the everyday

1998 Aluminum cable works. anodized doddles ,jpg

A founding member of the Core artist’s live/work co-op, Vancouver.

1999 Work in three centennial-year survey exhibitions of Canadian art, one representing the 1960’s, another the 1970’s and another the 1990’s.

2000 The Milky Way. Milky Way .jpg 2(4x4ft) *

2001 Mother, Helen (Knechtel) Burrows dies in her 90th year. Family papers reveal unknown German Jewish rabbinical connection via matriarchal lineage from Louis Kaufman and Martha Bombae. Family Tree Maternal Grandmother

Spall series. spall .jpgl 2x2ft *

Chinook series. Chichako Sun .jpg 2x2ft *

2002 Kate moves to Toronto and marries poet Victor Coleman. Tom begins a relationship with Gina Tessaro, a labour
activist and 25-year down-town east-side resident. Gina ,jpg

2003 Bandiere series. Alphonso de Liquori .jpg 2×2 & 4x4ft *

Joins the Ian Wallace Band playing keyboard, occasionally drum-kit and eventually alto sax. clarinet 1959 .jpg “Music, to create harmony, must investigate discord.” Plutarch.

2004 Joins Foster White Gallery, Seattle. Blue blew Bloor .jpg 4x4ft *

2006 No Sleep, a file of 30 surveillance photos, first photo essay since Skwat Doc. no-sleep-woman .jpg

2007 Rosebud series. Foster/White .jpg

Work included in the final chapter of a book surveying abstract painting in Canada since the 1920’s. Nasgaard, Roald, Abstract Painting in Canada.

Photo portrait in Havana photo .jpg

2008 Fabric series. h3-1r2bvcore .jpg 4x4ft *

Essay in defense of polyester. Right of Spring

Self-portrait Feb. 14, self-portrait .jpg Third time lucky! My beautiful Gina .jpg

2009 Polar Series exhibited at the Toronto Bau-Xi. Shackelton Range ,jpg 4x4ft *

Tony Nadler ‘s 13 Bicycles an exhibition curated by Tom at Bestway Studio, Feb. 13-14, 2009. Tony’s 13 bikes pdf


2010, January 31st e-mail from Gordon Hatt includindg the following two jpgs: “Shacks in art, so what is this….some kind of Vancouver thing?” Gordon.

Hey Gordon

Ken Lum had three 3/4 scale models of once-upon-a-time skwat shacks assembled by a prop-shop working from borrowed photos and placed temporarily in the pool in front of the Shangri-La-La Hotel (a rotating exhibition venue curated by the VAG). You might recognize the middle one was mine (part of a Canada Council grant I received at that time was to build our home from effluent ). To the left is Paul Spong’s, the save the killer whales guy. Historically it was about 100 yards to the east of our home. The shack to the right was Malcolm Lowry’s which was about a mile to the east, the other side of Chef Dan George’s Tsleil-waututh people’s land. It was razed in 1954, Spong’s and ours were torched in 1971. All three done-in by the same Corporate District of North Vancouver building inspector. Ken (& the VAG) present no on-site notation of the shack’s authors. At the very least they could have given accreditation to the inspector.

The Liz Magor shack is of a similar scale but presented craft-like in aluminum down to encrusted barnacles. Surely she did the research to discover the “Spratt’s Oilery Disaster” ( along with easily obtainable circa 1890 images of their pole sheds virtually in front of her permanent installation; so similar in image to her Freight Shed ). Spratts naively employed Alfred Nobel’s new invention of dynamite to stun the herring-run which was scooped-up and rendered for grease to lubricate the skids that allowed logs to be transported to the mills. They did it for three years until in 1885 the herring did not return to Coal Harbor or the salmon that fed on them. First Nations people in the vicinity of that tidal area had harvested it for mellennia. Their way of life was constructed on the return of the salmon. It was over. Freight Shed? maybe she means the freight of European ignorance.


In 1970-71 there was a lengthy supreme court case in the building that now houses the Vancouver Art Gallery. The case debated skwat rights on the Maplewood flats . The judges wore robes, the scent of marijuana hovered in the public washrooms. During the trial we noticed that the boundaries of the two parties who purported jurisdiction over the flats did not match-up. Their individual land surveys, that of the Corporate District of North Vancouver and that of the National Harbours Board, had been completed several years apart. They should have joined evenly on the mean high tide line but alluvial fill from the creek running beside our shack had created an oblong shaped piece of land that neither party claimed. It was large enough to contain the shack, 90 feet out in front on the flats.

In early December 1971, knowing that our rear guard action in s-court was fading, we decided to move to no man’s land. Among the dedicated group of volunteers who facilitated lowering the shack onto drift wood rollers and make the 90 foot move were British situationist historian Ron Hunt who curated the seminal exhibition, Poetry must be made by all! at the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 1969, and CARFAC organizer Glenn Toppings who joined the UBC faculty of Fine Arts as a martyr of the 1969 SFU strike (he had been a logger and knew what to do). We got it out there.

Close to Xmas, court order in hand, the building inspector of the Corporate District of North Vancouver led a crew to the flats to demolish the skwat. Our shack was roped off in an area with signage declaring No-Man’s-Land. Feeling humiliated by the protracted trial and horrified that it might begin again, he snapped. The inspector torched the shack, corporate arson. So much for the s-court service.

In a Straight article on Ken’s installation, Robin Laurence quotes that Vancouver was recently identified as having the highest housing-price-to-household-income ratio in the world. In 2008 Emily Carr U of Art awarded Vancouver real estate marketing wizard and high school drop-out Bob Rennie an honorary doctorate. T

Sept. 3, 2010, Irony. The Lum Sangri-la work has to come down to make room for the next installation. Rather than let the 3/4 scale cabins be trashed, as is the case for most expired props, the Corporate District of North Vancouver, who trashed the original skwats, asked to have props put in storage until they can find them an exhibition space within the District.

Permanent installation, back in the District of North Vancouver 42 years later. 2/3 scale


Mar. 2010, Polar Series exhibited at Foster/White, Seattle. F/W1 .jpg F/W2 .jpg F/W3 .jpg

Sept. 2010, Sand pile, 1973, sandpile .jpg included in Conceptual Art in Canada 1965-1980, University of Toronto, Dalhousie University , Art Gallery of Alberta and Concordia University in 2011, Vancouver Art Gallery in 2012, Badischer Kunsttverein, Germany in 2013.

Dec. 2010, Odd coincidence relating to Polar Series, Sandow

Feb. 2011, Polar Series at Vancouver Bau-xi

Mar. 2012, First small porcelain panels matched with similar size polymer panels exhibited in the NCECA show at Foster/White. A shipment of larger porcelain panels arrive in Vancouver from Jingdezhen in July and a few are included in a show at the Toronto Bau-Xi in Oct.

Jingdezhen, China video

Mar. 2013, A much larger selection of the three sizes of porcelain panels are exhibited with polymer panels at the Vancouver Bau-Xi.

Hornby studio video

Mar. 2014, An exhibition of porcelain and polymer panels at Foster/White.”Moths drink the tears of sleeping birds” Two pages explaining the titles of my most recent polymer series.

Belkin Gallery artist’s talk video

Jan. 9 to April 12 2015, A survey exhibition of my work from 1965 to the present at the Belkin Gallery, UBC curated by Scott Watson. (Invitation text) No sleep shown simultaneously at the Koerner Library, UBC (Invitation text), Koerner .jpg and Galerie St. Laurent, Marseille (an exhibition of the best works shown at Galerie du Tableau, Marseille in the past 25 years). My fellow Vancouver music group members Ian Wallace and Jack Jeffrey also have works at the St. Laurent. No Sleep at Galerie du Tableau, 2007. exterior No Sleep sample

Feb 9-28, Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver, Echo, a homage to a 45-year relationship with the Bau-Xi Gallery. Reflecting on the first exhibition with the gallery in 1970, a twenty-five year hiatus and then yearly shows from 1995 to the present day.




Curriculum vitae. cv

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