Ronald Headland

Following a period of about twenty years during which the subject matter in my work was figurative, in 2013 I returned in a new way to total abstraction (which had characterized my earliest work), in a series of paintings titled The Memory of Things. This series continues to the present day.

Memory, here, suggests several levels: the memory of the simple, banal objects and materials themselves that are collaged onto the painting surface things that already have a “history” of their own (bits of canvas, parts of clothing, wallpaper, fragments of old paintings, prints and drawings, burlap, buttons, sandpaper, metal hinges, cardboard, maps, brushes, and the like); the memory of my previous ways of working and dealing with colour, composition, and paint quality in a non-representational context; the memory of art history and its bearing on my work, and so on.

The present work, with its return to abstraction, continues my earlier use of collage, but now these materials affirm themselves much more directly within new arrangements of the composition. The composition is not fixed, there is no ‘progression’ in the usual sense but embraces an ever-changing variety of formats, all suggesting to some degree a sense of order and structure.

I have tried to employ the traditional techniques of collage in my own way. Very much process oriented, these works have allowed me to further explore my fascination with paint, colour and surface texture and, at the same time, to face the challenge of creating art employing the simplest cast off materials.

Always looking to expand on what I have done, I have extended the Memory series further by creating paintings on shaped canvas, wood, and paper, where the interior composition interacts with the overall external shapes. A more recent development has been the use of recycled wood (that has its own integral “memories”) and where this raw wood asserts itself, resulting in paintings/constructions. These works combine more quirky, seemingly haphazard, irregular contours with a variety of found materials. The outcome is a much more sculptural, rougher, cruder “object.” For me, the works are an acknowledgment of the often overlooked beauty present in our everyday surroundings.

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts. Thank you to our gallery sponsor Port Saint John.