Stuart Oxley

Artist & Teacher

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Published, EAC Communiqué, April 1989

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tuart Oxley says his art today is the result of a five year process of change: “a quiet evolution”. During this period, maverick, incongruous ideas sometimes surfaced, foreshadowing his present work. Last year Stuart built a studio behind his house on Chalmers Street, Elora. In it, the transition is taking form. Early black and white austere abstracts, influenced by Spanish artist Antoine Tapler, are giving way to flowering colour, and many large sheets of pastel works-in-progress surround the room. On the wide work table finely colourgraded pastel chalks are temptingly laid out: objects from Pandora’s box, each with its own language, emotional connotations and personality in interaction with other colours. These are the tools of challenging exploration. In the centre of the studio is a large press for print making. During his Art studies at Sheridan College and University of Guelph, Stuart’s development came to focus on printmaking. As he familiarized himself with the medium he could use it ever more spontaneously to serve creative expression. Much of his early work is in the print medium. 

After graduation with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Stuart continued to work as a print technician in the U. of G. Art Department. He helped students print their work 40 hours a week, and often spent eight hours a night in creative work at home. He suffered from fumes of the print acids. One morning he said to his wife Marion, “That’s it!” Within two weeks he was on his own, free to explore his own talents. 

What stimulated Stuart’s interest in the visual arts? His mother was an artist. He remembers an amazing moment in childhood when he sat at the kitchen table in England with paper and pencil. His mother walked by, took up the pencil and just drew a horse! Suddenly, the horse took form on paper through his mother’s magic. With his non-conformist parents and sister, he moved often and to many countries as a child. This was destabilizing. He felt himself to be different and isolated in high school, but retrospectively Stuart thinks this led him to look to his creativity for fulfillment. His Art teacher encouraged him, and his French teacher proved her enthusiasm by buying two of his works. Thrilled with success, he decided his future direction. He would study Art. 

Stuart’s wife Marion, a teacher at CWDHS, has been with him since university days, and he greatly values her support. They have two children: Jenna five, and Steven eight. Being close to their developing lives gives Stuart much happiness. Each year Stuart tries to have one show. Last year he had shows at both the Hamilton and Kitchener galleries. He finds it takes much courage to go out and sell himself in the art world, to chase and harry dealers. Last week Stuart’s own dealer and lifeline to galleries and buyers regrettably went under – a harsh reminder of the frailty of the art business.

Staying home the last two years has given Stuart needed quiet and peacefulness. “Finally I’m in the space where I should be”, he says, “In my work I’m looking for spirits and essences, for the space between things. The energy between this cup and this ash tray as they stand near each other, the energy between two people sitting at a table. That’s what’s important. I’ve carried some elements in my work for years, despite change. If you laid all my work out from here to Fergus, you’d see a common thread. That’s good. That’s stabilizing.”

Stuart Oxley, one is very aware, lives on the plane of creative thought and essences. But there is humour too, and much appreciation. “There is little time for creativity,” he says, “even if we had all the time in the world, it would still not be enough for the richnessof our creativity”. 

 by Beverley Cairns, April 1989

In my work I’m looking for spirits and essences, for the space between things.

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UPDATE – 1997

Stuart Oxley is now owner and Master Printer of Riverside Studios, producing limited edition prints of works by numerous artists.

In 1991, Stuart received an Ontario ATS Council’s Materials Assistance Grant. In ‘91, he made the Dean’s honour list, Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario when he was awarded his Ontario Teacher’s Certificate. In 1995, he was awarded the degree Master of Fine Arts from University of Waterloo.

Stuart has had numerous exhibitions including participation in ‘91 Graficni Bienale in Ljubijana, as well as a Solo exhibit at Macdonald Stewart Gallery, Guelph, the same year. His work has been acquired by the University of Waterloo Gallery, where he participated in the Fine Arts Faculty Exhibition in 1994. In 1995 he had a show with C. Ruddoch at Harbinger Gallery, Kitchener.

Stuart was Sessional Instructor in Printmaking at University of Waterloo, ‘93 and ‘94, and has continued personal work in this medium, taking part in the “Riverside” show touring a number of Canadian galleries. In the summer of ‘97 Stuart will act as one of two jurors for the EAC’s INSIGHTS art show.

UPDATE

Stu Oxley is a faculty member of the Fine Arts Program at the School of Design and Visual Art, Georgian College, Barrie. Oxley’s reputation as an artist has flourished in recent years; his work is represented in numerous public galleries and in collections across Canada and England, including: Canadian Pacific, Imperial Oil, Nova Alberta Corporation, Esso Canada, Bank of Montreal, Nickle Arts Museum, London Regional Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, University of Guelph, Wilfred Laurier University, Queen’s University and St. Mary’s University.

Stu Oxley is considered one of Canada’s premier artists working within the medium of Intaglio. Highly respected, Stu Oxley has earned the reputation of master printmaker and continues as the director of Riverside Studio.

Recent solo exhibitions include; – Paul Kuhn Gallery, Calgary; Jill George Gallery, London, England; Jennifer Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver; Paul Kuhn Gallery, Calgary; Edward Day Gallery, Toronto; McClaren Gallery, Barry, and in February 2005 at the Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto.

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