Alumni Art Collection spotlight

By Catherine Elliot Shaw
January 18, 2013

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In 1966, the Alumni Association formed a committee to research and assemble a collection of museum-quality contemporary art. Today, the Alumni Art Collection boasts 18 artworks by outstanding international, national and regional artists including Jack Chambers, Greg Curnoe, Yves Gaucher, Michael Snow and Jules Olitski. Over the years, these artworks have been enjoyed both on campus and in major exhibitions across Canada – a proud legacy indeed.

Art_calm Calm 1962 by Tony Urquhart, oil on canvas, Gift of the Alumni Association, 1968

In 1962, Tony Urquhart was in his second year as Western’s first artist-in-residence. Before Western had a Fine Arts Department, this position provided interested students with firsthand learning opportunities through sketching classes, exhibitions and activities. In addition, Urquhart established a studio for his own practice in the lower level of McIntosh Gallery.

Intentionally ambiguous in scale and subject matter (Is it a landscape? A haystack? A microcosm?), Calm was actually part of a series painted by Urquhart in reaction to the ominous tension of the Cold War. Though seemingly static, closer examination reveals that the central element is layered in thin washes of transparent colour, an allusion to the roiling slow motion of a nuclear explosion. We are observing it in a state of near suspension just before the firestorm would reach us.

















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