Above: Eyland attempts to erase a blackboard by Joseph Beuys at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1980. (Fortunately, the blackboard was under glass, because a few years later this 1976 Beuys work was sold the Art Gallery of Ontario in order to support a NSCAD scholarship.)
CLIFF EYLAND BIOGRAPHICAL
(NOTE: For images of Eyland's work, please see: Images. For writing about Eyland's work, please see: Bibliography. For Eyland's writing on his own work, please see: Assertions. For Eyland's writing on work by other artists, please see: Writing. To view Eyland's 1992 book of illustrated essays, please see: The 100,000 Names of Art (16MB PDF) To view Eyland's online posts since 2006 to the art magazine Akimbo, please click here. For a shorter first-person version of the chronology below please click here.)
b. 1954; Canadian citizen/U.K. right of abode
Cliff Eyland is a painter, writer and a curator. He studied at Holland College, Mount Allison University, and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Since 1981, he has made paintings, drawings, and notes in an index card format -- 3"x5" (7.6x12.7 cm).
Eyland has shown his work in public and secret installations in art galleries and libraries in Canada, the United States and Europe. Exhibition highlights include solo exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the New School University in New York, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Struts Gallery and Gallery Connexion (both in New Brunswick), the Muttart (now the Art Gallery of Calgary), the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, and in Halifax at: the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, eyelevelgallery, Saint Mary's University Art Gallery and Dalhousie Art Gallery. Group exhibitions include shows at the National Gallery of Canada, in Florence, Italy, Manchester, England, and Lublin, Poland, among others. In 2003 Eyland was shortlisted for the national RBC/Canadian Art Foundation painting award. Eyland's ongoing installation at the Raymond Fogelman Library at the New School University in New York City was regularly updated from 1997 until 2005. His permanent installation of over 1000 paintings at Winnipeg's Millennium Library opened in 2005.
Eyland has written criticism for Canadian art magazines since 1983. His curatorial work includes 9 years as a curator at the Technical University of Nova Scotia School of Architecture (Daltech) and freelance work for various galleries, Including the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg. (From 1995 to 2005, Eyland was vice-president of the board of Plug In.) Eyland was the Director of Gallery One One One at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg from 1998 to 2010. He is currently an Associate Professor of painting at the University of Manitoba School of Art.
Eyland is represented by Leo Kamen Gallery in Toronto. CLIFF EYLAND: A CHRONOLOGY
1954 to 1967:
The artist's mother, born in 1932, is Kathleen Margaret nee Williams, or Kay or Kate or Katie. Her parents are sea captain Clifford George Williams from Ostria Lake, Nova Scotia, an Anglican, and Kathleen nee Hughes, an Irish Catholic survivor, like the rest of her family, of 1917's Halifax Explosion. The artist's father Ronald James Eyland, called Ron or "Tiny," was born in Montreal in 1934. Ron's parents are enlisted sailor Leslie Eyland and Mabel nee Jameson, both Anglicans with thick Northern English accents, but who moved to Montreal as children.
Kay and Ron grew up in Dartmouth a few blocks away from each other and were teenage sweethearts.
Kathleen becomes a registered nurse. and Ronald becomes a corporal in the Royal Canadian Air Force, an airframe technician for much of his career, and later a Warrant Officer. They have five children: Cliff, the eldest, Terry, Dawn, Lynn, and Mary Ellen.
Clifford Leslie Joseph Eyland (named "Cliff" after his grandfather and his paternal and maternal great-uncles, "Leslie" after his paternal grandfather, and "Joseph" after Sister Thomas Joseph and Sister Frances Joseph, Kay's favourite nursing instructors at the Halifax Infirmary where she trained (and gave birth to Cliff). Cliff is born on 7 November 1954. On New Year's Eve, he and Kay sail on the Cunard liner Ibernia for Great Britain, and then travel to the Canadian air force base at CFB Baden-Soellingen near Baden-Baden, West Germany.
Ron Eyland's passion is music and performance, and period photographs show him on stage in revues that toured European military bases.
Eyland's brother Terry James is born in 1955, and in 1957 his sister Dawn Lorraine arrives.
The Eylands are transferred in September 1957 to Kingston, Nova Scotia, a small town near Greenwood's Royal Canadian Air Force base in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley. The family moves into "Personnel Married Quarters" or "PMQs" on the air base, the address of which is 9 on 8th Crescent.
Cliff's sister Lynn Kathleen is born in 1958.
They play naked in the woods. They do not steal from the local Handy Stand on Sundays. At the air force school, Eyland is strapped for literally stepping put of line.
During the cold war, air force children are not taught to "duck and cover" in class - that would be useless. The October 1962 Cuban missile crisis puts the Greenwood air base on alert. It is expected that the world will end. Afterward Cliff urges his father to build a fallout shelter in the back yard, which he refuses to do. At elementary school Eyland and his classmates draw tanks and Argus aircraft in battles that always end in squiggly atomic explosions.
He insists on using a ruler to print letters. He is a precocious reader.
Mary Ellen Margarite is born in 1963.
The family moves from Greenwood to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia in the summer of 1963. They live on Crawford Street near Halifax harbour. The yard was covered with coal.
Eyland: "I have sharp memories of Crawford Street. I saw a guy in a ducktail hairdo split a boy's cheek open with his fist; I remember the pop guns that we loaded by sticking the barrel into a potato; I remember the smell of the oil refinery down the street."
Eyland and his brother make "Viking ships" out of railroad ties that they intended to sail out the harbour.
The family moves to 61 Mount Edward Road on the outskirts of Dartmouth in 1964, a bewilderingly standard post-war suburb. Eyland meets Peter Wardrope, who becomes a lifelong friend, and also Woodlawn neighbours Jimmy and Owen (Owey) Simmons, and Dean, Brock and Diane Smith. Other Dartmouth friends include Howard Granger, Ron Swan, Paula Laramee, Cheryl Dalton, Pat During, Frank Rogers, and many others now forgotten -- air force brats learn early to forget as they move on.
The kids make mud pots and bake them in the sun. (Eyland may be confusing the pot making with Crawford Street.) They construct "forts" or tree houses in the woods with materials stolen from local building sites. They dismantle wooden fences on vacant properties. After a year or two of building forts they establish a "fort-wreckers club." They play endless games of baseball. They make "go-carts" to run down the steep hill Mount Edward Road.
He watches a television show hosted by the artist (and Allan McCollum's uncle) Jon Gnagy called "Jon Gnagy Learn To Draw."
After 1964 the Eyland kids segregate themselves into girls and boys. The boys ride bikes deep into the night; they kill suckers (fish), frogs, insects -- anything killable -- in the cruellest manner possible, by fire, by club, by knife, and by bike tire. they dare each other to walk down "the Spooky Path" at dusk; they successively quit organisations such as the Boy Scouts and the Air Cadets. A little later on Eyland becomes, however briefly, an aspiring capitalist, reading books by Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie and others. He and his brother start a soda pop business, selling cold beverages to builders of new suburban houses.
His uncle George gives the family Eskimo (now called "Inuit") sculptures that he had collected during a Canadian Coast Guard trip to the Arctic; his grandparents have a McKay print of the Halifax waterfront in their living room, along with reproductions of schooner paintings; and there is an impasto landscape painting by an artist named John Cook at Ellenvale Junior High School. Otherwise, Eyland's pre-1967 exposure to art -- especially contemporary art -- is limited. However, he does begin to read and clip Robert Hughes's Time magazine articles about art.
He attends Expo '67 in Montreal on a 7th Grade school trip, by train. He fills a notebook with "passport" stamps from pavilions that he retrospectively anoints as his first file card work, his first serious self-conscious work of art. He ignores almost everything in the pavilions except the world's largest escalator in the American pavilion and a black and white painting by Paul Emile Borduas in the Canadian pavilion. Every day he gets lost.
Above: Pages from a work called Expo Passbook, 1967. This was Eyland's first self-consciously made work of "contemporary" art. While visiting Expo '67 he would often only enter a pavilion long enough to get its "passport" stamp.
Lucky (c.1969-1979), a dog, was bought for Dawn's twelfth birthday. Cliff regularly takes it for walks.
In the summer of 1968 Eyland and his siblings are given informal art lessons by Suzanne Paquette, a student at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design who lives up the street on Mount Edward Road. She plays the album Hair as the kids paint and draw. Suzanne takes Eyland to the Coburg Road art school in Halifax for art-making visits. He remembers meeting ceramics professor Walter Ostrum "Cliff is thinking of art as his bag," she tells Ostrum. Suzanne introduces Eyland to a longhaired student who wears an army jacket and never takes off his sunglasses. He remembers seeing a biplane wing hanging from a ceiling, and spaces crammed with art. He is introduced to Prince Edward Island artist Karl McKeeman, a NSCAD student who later visits an exhibition of Suzanne's students' work ( held outside in her back yard) to which Eyland contributes spatter paintings on paper. Paquette shows Eyland a large, intimidating art history book, likely Jansen's History of Art, and a book about Warhol.
Eyland's parents buy him a bass guitar and he joins improvisational guitar rock bands that mostly emulate, in endless iterations, Cream. Peter Wardrope also takes up guitar and will go on to become a professional musician.
In 1971 Eyland's family moves to Amherst, Nova Scotia, the former boyhood home of Canadian artist Alex Colville, the town where Leon Trotsky was detained during World War I, and, near the Amherst shore on a yacht, the birthplace of Wyndam Lewis. Amherst is a town of about 10,000 people near the New Brunswick border a few miles from Mount Allison University, which has an art department locally famous for once having had Alex Colville on its staff.
Eyland and his friends play in rock bands, but occasionally he sits in on his father's bluegrass sessions. Every kind of music is appreciated, and there is always live music playing in the Amherst house.
Eyland becomes a mystic, using William James's Varieties of Religious Experience and F.C. Happold's Mysticism as his main guidebooks. He also reads kooky news-stand books on religion and tomes like Tertium Organum by P.D. Ouspensky that he borrows from the Amherst Regional library. He has mystical experiences. In fact, throughout his life he is able to instantly enter an ecstatic state.
In 1972 Eyland gets his first job -- oddly -- as a comic book artist in Dartmouth, N.S. for Buzzard magazine, which he convinces his peers to name in honour of Leonardo's vulture vision as interpreted by Freud. Buzzard is funded by a government of Canada summer employment program called "Opportunities for Youth."
The soundtrack of that 1972 summer is Frank Zappa. The work site is a church basement on Woodlawn Road near Prince Andrew High School, the gift of a tolerant United Church minister.
Eyland, on returning to Amherst, quits Amherst Regional High School in 1972. The next year he reluctantly returns and graduates. He takes painting lessons from an Amherst man named MacDonald. He works the next two summers (before and after he lives in Jamaica in 1973-74) running the Amherst Youth Hostel in the YMCA building. He meets Halifax/Trinidadian artist Michael Fernandes on the outskirts of town. Fernandes claims that they met while Eyland was walking his dog, guitar in hand, on some railroad tracks. Michael Fernandes is the first mature, serious artist that Eyland meets long enough to have a real conversation with, and Fernandes becomes a kind of spiritual teacher for Eyland.
He takes a week long course from Fernandes at Nova Scotia's Atlantic Christian Training Centre in 1973. The course is about making candles, kites and plaster casts. He will soon be teaching Jamaican children how to make kites.
Eyland on Amherst: "I'd start walking to school, but I'd would turn off toward the local library instead. That's where I spent my daydreaming and drawing. Amherst was a beautiful little town."
Eyland moves to Darliston, Westmoreland County, Jamaica in 1973-74 as a full-time volunteer at Clifton Boys Home, where he teaches boys drawing, kite-making, piano and guitar. He especially enjoys teaching the children reggae tunes. He "wanted to become a saint." He provides art supplies to students (courtesy Amherst donors) and collects drawings from the boys, including works by Joe Clarence, an especially gifted young artist. He rooms with an English couple Father Alan Reynolds, his wife Robbie and their infant son Stephen, who live across the road from the boys home. He loses his faith after reading The Misery of Christianity by Joachim Kah [London: Penguin 1971]. He becomes an agnostic, a person who hopes against hope, someone who is open but sceptical. He also reads a biography of the English painter Stanley Spencer that he finds in Father Reynold's library
Eyland on Jamaica:
"Father Westin and his son Peter [from Amherst] visited Jamaica and whisked me off for a week to the Tower Isle Hotel in Ocho Rios, a feast flowing famine experience that I will never forget. I played commercial world's first video game -- Pong -- there."
"One time (Jamaicans often start a story with that phrase) one of the boys threw a pot of boiling water at another, who slashed a deep gash the boy's back with a machete."
"Jamaica had electricity and oil when other countries, because of the Arab oil embargo, did not."
"Father Westin, a Jamaican and a sponsor of my work there, called Rastafarians 'outcasts.' I was, of course fascinated by them, even if they would not talk to me."
"One time the Clifton Boys Home kids killed a cow with stones and we had to bury it."
"Any walk in the beautiful Darliston countryside meant pulling ticks out of one's legs afterward."
"I helped the kids cut grass, which was done with machetes. They claimed to have never seen a white person do that."
"A mango tree with ripe fruit is brilliant. A goat would be hung from a tree and we would eat it. Porridge made from bags marked 'gift of America' or some such thing was eaten with condensed milk."
"There were printed remnants of Elizabeth's coronation everywhere in the Boys Home."
"I bought a Hare Khrisna book from an American Krishna kid who somehow showed at the door. The tropical environment grew mould on it very quickly."
"I did not smoke marijuana in Jamaica. It is illegal to smoke ganja in Jamaica."
The soundtrack of Eyland's 1973-74 stint in Jamaica was Jimmy Cliff's Harder They Come album, Bob Marley, and Anglican hymns.
Since high school the dominant soundtrack of Eyland's life is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's AM and FM (later CBC 2) stations. He can never afford, and has no inclination to buy, records or cigarettes or drugs, however much he loves music, fog and daydreaming, but he is able to get money for beer whenever he wants it.
Eyland applies for admission into Mount Allison University's fine arts program in the years 1974 and 75, but is rejected three times in two years, once personally by Lawren P. Harris. He believes, that "art has extinguished itself into philosophy," but he nevertheless continues to draw and paint. He attends Mount Allison University's arts (not fine arts) program for a year, majoring in philosophy and minoring in art history. He imagines that he will either become a conceptual artist or a folk artist. While at Mount Allison he carefully pages through every copy of every bound art magazine in the university's library.
His work is shown for the first time in a public gallery at Mount Allison's Owens as part of a Sackville Art Association show in 1975. He can't remember what was shown.
He is interested in Jasper Johns, Vincent Van Gogh, Georges Roualt, Wyndam Lewis, Marcel Duchamp and many other artists. His often thinks about trying to reconcile conceptual art and painting.
He sees an exhibition at Mount Allison of routered plywood paintings by Paterson Ewen that astonishes him. (Other exhibitions that make an impression in the 1970s are a show of Claude Tousignant's "gong" abstractions; a feminist group show at the National Gallery in Ottawa; and an exhibition of superrealist art at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum.)
Eyland: "Our small Mount Allison English class went to dinner with the Canadian poet Al Purdy, who was very entertaining in his demands for more beer at the formal and staid Marshlands Inn."
Eyland marries Kim Auld (later Kierins) in 1975. Kim is a beautiful and level-headed girl. She wants to study photojournalism, and she eventually becomes a journalism professor at King's College in Halifax and a specialist in small towns.
Eyland's parents leave Amherst in 1976 for Edmonton, Alberta. (In 1982 they return in a "terminal transfer" to Halifax, N.S.) His sister Lynn develops symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, but is not diagnosed until she moves to Edmonton (it is at first thought to be an endocrine imbalance). MS is in both sides of the family, and eventually Eyland's sister Dawn is also diagnosed with MS.
1976 - 1978
In 1976 Eyland moves to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island with Kim Auld. She enrols in Holland College's photojournalism program and he enrols in the graphic design program, after initially being rejected because instructors Henry Purdy and Russell Stewart rightly conclude after an interview that he was more interested in fine art than graphic design.
He gets an evening job at the Holland College Library, where he works at the checkout desk and re-shelves books. One of his favourite tasks is called "shelf-reading," which is the checking of the order of books on shelves.
Holland College allows Eyland complete artistic freedom. He paints in oil and then acrylic, mostly on Masonite. Most of his Prince Edward Island work is lost, destroyed, or left in a farmhouse in Johnson's River, P.E.I. in 1978.
He studies under Henry Purdy, Russell Stewart and Floyd Trainer. He meets and collaborates with Diana Cripps, Guy Richard and Dwayne Gordon. He meets Paul Tyndal, a pianist who eventually becomes an English professor, and Marjorie Taylor, his girlfriend, who eventually becomes a famous child psychologist whose research topic is the imaginary friends of children. In a pinch he sells all of his books to Marjorie for $50. He also "borrows" Marjorie and her child Amber to sympathetically pose as his family at the driver's license bureau.
Eyland on Prince Edward Island: "Prince Edward Island was very hippie: draft dodger, mushroom ingesting, marijuana smoking -- that sort of thing."
"There were not many artists in Prince Edward Island in 1976. Henry Purdy, Floyd Trainor, Erica Rutherford and Hilda Woolnough were there, but sadly they have been almost completely forgotten. Allan Harding McKay had left Charlottetown years before for Halifax and Lucy Hogg was too young to have been on the scene. Robert Harris (1849-1919) was still the most important Prince Edward Island artist. The most locally celebrated artist at the time was a hippy painter of domestic animals named Lindee Climo."
Eyland does freelance work in Charlottetown, including a commission from the Prince Edward Island Department of Justice to produce drawings for a colouring book called Maynard Breaks the Law.
He shows in 1978 at Gallery On Demand, The Great George Street Gallery, and the School of Visual Arts in Charlottetown.
He shows in a three-person group exhibition with Dwayne Gordon and Jean-Guy Richard at the School of Visual Arts called Create. It includes an eclectic mix of Eyland's experimental paintings on Masonite and latex paintings on paper.
His work also appears in a group exhibition at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum entitled Images of the Island, curated by Mark Holton. The painting he shows is entitled "Canadian Style Internment" (now lost) and it is on the subject of Canada's W.W.II Japanese internment camps.
He meets the painter William Ronald at the artist's solo exhibition at the Confederation Centre, and is struck by his flamboyance.
Eyland "graduates" ("from" or perhaps "with" the mysterious "Step Program") from Holland College in 1978. He breaks up with Kim Auld and begins a relationship with Kim Grant, who has two kids named Sarah and Joey.
He scrapes together a living at graphic design and teaching art to children during the summers 1977-78 as head of the children's summer program at Holland College. He works briefly for a tyrannical print shop owner whose name has been erased from his memory.
Soundtrack 1976-78 - Charlie Daniels, Fleetwood Mac (Rumors), Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLaughlin, folk, Rustico Saturday Night, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Oscar Peterson.
Eyland runs out of money in 1979, and his brother Terry gives him plane fare to Alberta. He works as a labourer in Edmonton for a firm called Industrial Overload and then lands a job as a graphic designer in Fort McMurray for Gallery Print Shop, and later for a new weekly newspaper The Fort McMurray Express.
He makes drawings in Alberta, mostly for graphic design clients, but no paintings.
Eyland on Alberta: "Alberta was becoming an oil state, and it was booming. Young Maritimers and Newfoundlanders were moving there in great numbers. The dominant culture was disco, the favourite car a black Z28 or TransAm. Peter Lougheed, a red Tory, was in power and Ralph Klein was the mayor of Calgary. There were enough Nova Scotians in Edmonton that Amherst could play a hockey game against River Hebert N.S."
Eyland moves from Fort McMurray to his maternal grandmother's house on 33 Thistle St. in Dartmouth in 1980.
He begins studies at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design after joining the army reserve as both a "serious joke" and an actual summer job, receiving a "Certificate of Military Achievement" after boot camp. He visits NSCAD in army uniform to finalise admission. He is given academic credit by NSCAD for his previous years at Mount Allison and Holland College.
Above: an example of a file card sized section cut out of H.H. Arneson's History of Modern Art as part of the 1981 work N.S.C.A.D. Library File Card Intervention.
Eyland begins to make art in the library of the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design on Duke Street in Halifax in 1980-1981.
He shows file card works for the first time in a public gallery as part of a group show at the Anna Leonowens Gallery at NSCAD in 1981. He also has his first solo exhibition at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in 1981, called "Cartoons and Sentences," which includes ink drawings and text works on paper, none of which Eyland thinks is any good.
Eyland on being a NSCAD student: "NSCAD's street-front library at 5163 Duke Street, run by John Murchie, was a social centre of the School that rivalled the cafeteria, at least in my mind."
"It was the beginning of the AIDS era, but we did not know what that meant."
"I still remember the taste of cigarette ashes in beer, necking on the floor of the Seahorse tavern and tipsy arguments with Kenneth Coutts-Smith."
"Punk was late arriving in North America. We danced to the B52's 'Rock Lobster,' and to the Talking Heads, The Clash and the Sex Pistols. Gordon Laurin organised a performance by Sonic Youth. We had short hair, and so Haligonians thought we were in the military."
"My studio advisor at NSCAD was Judith Mann, whom I liked very much. I especially appreciated her sense of humour. My most important teacher and influence at NSCAD was Eric Cameron. Instead of studying with Cameron, I was so fascinated by his personality, his ideas, and his work that I decided to study him. About a year before I became his student, Cameron had begun to make his "thick" paintings, a continuing project. The "thick paintings" are ordinary objects chosen in 1979-80 which Cameron is still, I believe, covering with layers of gesso. The thick paintings immediately reminded me of the obsessiveness of Joe Clarence's Jamaican drawings, and of other artists who do things because of an inner compulsion which does not necessarily depend on the feedback of an audience. I have always admired artists who work out of a kind of reasoned compulsion. I transcribed a 1982 interview I did with Cameron for Vanguard magazine, which published the piece in 1983. The Vanguard piece was the first ever published about the "thick" paintings and my first published article. As Cameron describes our encounter in his 1990 Winnipeg Art Gallery/National Gallery catalogue, he was rather surprised that I had written about him: in fact, he suggests that his own obsessive theoretical writing about himself began as a response to my art-student musings. He would have to set the record straight because this student had gotten it all wrong!"
"Cameron allowed his art to escape the grasp of its conceptualist program so that the art became a series of 'mistakes.' Psychological tension and repression are built into the more obsessional types of conceptual art like Cameron's. Whereas, say Jackson Pollock's mature work conveys a sense of instant volcanic release, a kind of ejaculatory burst, the images conjured by Cameron's type of conceptual art are closer to something like the geological layering of sediment."
"A study of Cameron led me to take up the file card size format for my painting in 1981."
"Various art-world luminaries came through the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design while I was a student there. I remember a wonderful presentation by Dan Graham about punk rock; Victor Burgin trying to get us to stop painting; Hans Haacke speaking about his political work; and Paterson Ewan showing us slides he had taken in his back yard with his hands wrapped around the paintings. I attended several talks by Robert Frank. Hilton Kramer came through the school and afterward announced that NSCAD students had "put down their video cameras and picked up their paint brushes." (I like to think that visitors saw my little corner with its 3"x5" paintings.) The presence of the art historian and critic Benjamin Buchloh, who taught contemporary art history courses at NSCAD at the time, seemed to keep everyone on edge, if not the edge. At the time contacts with the NSCAD power duo Gerald Ferguson and Garry Neill Kennedy were minimal, but Ferguson has since become an artist who interests me a great deal."
"In retrospect, given his subsequent influence on the art scene in England and his untimely death, Peter Fuller's studio visit with me was a highlight of my NSCAD years. One of the painting instructors, the late John Clark, was anxious for students to meet Fuller. The future founder of the British magazine Modern Painters came into my tiny section of the painting studios, where I had gotten out some paintings based on a collage made of pieces of a Hogarth print. After a slow look, he leaned back in an Oxbridge slouch and proclaimed that I was making "concessions to conceptualism," as if I were struggling to get back through conceptualism to a more ancient art. He made me angry at the time, but I have since learned to appreciate--even share--some of his opinions."
Above: Joanne Light looking at an arrangement of Eyland's file card paintings at an Anna Leonowens Gallery student group exhibition in 1981. Click here for an artist's statement about the file card works.
Eyland graduates with a Bachelor of Fine Arts studio degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design in 1982, despite having quit classes during his last year. His degree is number 777, which he thinks significant, even though he does not believe in numerology.
"I borrowed $4000 during my last year so that I could make a lot of art, and then it took ten years at $89 per month to pay the money back," says Eyland.
Above: Jane Sadler Dalhousie University ID Card, ID card and acrylic on gessoed 1/8th" Masonite, 3"x5" (7.6x12.7 cm) 1988-1996. Collection: Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Eyland meets Jane Sadler, a Dalhousie University Russian studies student from Ottawa, around 1982 through her sister Helen, an art student. Sadler has an eye for art and antiques. For example, she finds an Arthur Lismer painting amongst garbage in the basement of a Halifax house in which she lives. Jane plays piano and is passionate about fabrics and clothes. She is never tempted to become a fashion model, which seems an obvious option to her friends. Her father is a retired Nortel executive -- a British ex-pat -- and her family lives in Rockcliffe Park, Ottawa's exclusive embassy district.
During and shortly after his time at NSCAD, as mentioned, Eyland takes care of his maternal grandmother Kathleen Williams in exchange for rent. He borrows his father's white pickup truck to work on North End Halifax renovation jobs at homes owned by art professionals, Including Gemey Kelly and John Murchie, John Greer, Shelagh MacKenzie, and (NSCAD staffer) Joyce Stevenson.
Eyland: "Joyce worked at the front desk of the NSCAD library, and cut my Masonite file cards for me. She once asked me if visiting artist Michael Asher was 'retarded.' 'I really mean it: is he?'"
In one house being renovated by Joyce and her husband, Eyland finds hundreds of old dollars and expired Irish sweepstakes tickets in a box under a sink. Joyce and her husband Rob share the find with their workers.
Eyland becomes an "exhibitions officer" in 1983 at Mount Saint Vincent University's Art Gallery under director Mary Sparling after having been turned down a year earlier for the position, which is a one-year curatorial apprenticeship, a rare entry-level curatorial job, the closest thing to a curatorial grad school around. As part of his training he attends a one-week "orientation program" at the National Gallery of Canada.
Sparling gives Eyland extra gallery responsibilities so that she can organise the country against Canadian federal government (Brian Mulroney-era) arts cutbacks. Eyland hangs shows, designs catalogues, writes essays, gives tours, and mats and frames work.
He meets Barbara Hodkin, a psychology professor at Mount Saint Vincent, who becomes a lifelong friend, and her daughter Bruna Gushurst, with whom he also becomes close.
Eyland lives at a large room at a youth hostel on Brunswick Street in Halifax with Jane Sadler and other students. He then moves into 1451 South Park Street, where Jane Sadler stays with him during winters.
Their roommates at 1451 include Peter Wardrope, who, as mentioned, is Eyland's oldest boyhood friend.
He has his writing published in an art magazine for the first time in 1983.
(In 1982 his first writing was an interview one of his teachers at NSCAD "Eric Cameron, who began his "thick paintings" in 1979, but Eyland's first published reviews are about the work of Halifax artists Janice Leonard for Arts Atlantic) and David Merritt for Vanguard in 1983.)
The first references in print about Eyland's work appear in the Bruce Barber/Jan Peacock edited catalogue for a show called Appropriation/Expropriation at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery. Eyland: "Bruce Barber thought that a show that I had curated about the Jamaican Joe Clarence was appropriation art, and favoured it, I think, but I chose instead to exhibit my collaged re-workings of a Hogarth print. The switch made me realize that I did not want to be an 'appropriation artist.'"
Eyland cuts out file card-sizes pieces from scraps of matting projects he did for the Mount Gallery in 1983/84 (while framing The Atlantic Album, a show of historical photographs) to use as supports for paintings and drawings. He also cuts out file card pieces from gallery garbage, mostly mailers for Canadian art exhibitions.
In 1983 he begins to cut out file card excerpts from his own older works.
Eyland does two art reviews on CBC radio about he Nova Scotian artists Alex Colville and Marcel Quay. Radio is not for him.
He owns his first and last car in 1983, a 1975 Mustang that he buys from his brother and paints with white house paint. When the brake light flares up he covers it with electrical tape. The brakes fail, he crashes into the youth hostel's fence, and he has the car towed away.
He gets a temporary job at the Federation of Nova Scotian Heritage. His job is to make a file card catalogue of their book collection. (These cards will become the basis of a 1988 solo show at Eye Level Gallery called Ocean Playground.)
Above: A photograph by Donald Westin of Cliff Eyland's 1984 Anna Leonowens Gallery exhibition entitled "Library/Art Gallery." The show consists of an arrangement of file card paintings -- 3"x5" -- and drawings in 35 mm slide mounts within a 3'x5' area on one wall.
In 1984 Eyland has his second solo exhibition (if one does not count his Joe Clarence show) at the NSCAD Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax entitled "Library/Art Gallery." A review of this show by Charlotte Townsend-Gault -- the first magazine review about Eyland's work -- appears in Vanguard magazine.
He writes about "Dal's Community Exhibition," for the Dal News; about an "Audio by Artists Festival"; about Michael Fernandes, Pamela Ritchie and about a conference exhibition staged by Canada's artist-run centres; and about Barbara Lounder and John Nesbitt.
Eyland has a solo exhibition in 1985 entitled Library/Art Gallery (7 November to 7 December) at the Killam Library in Halifax that is facilitated by Dalhousie Art Gallery. Oyar Biskaps, one of the architects of the Killam Library, is unable to find the show, which consists of a few paintings on a wall in a reading room.
He curates a solo exhibition of work by Jamelie Hassan, his first post-art school curating, and he writes about Elizabeth Shatford, Peter Kirby, Leslie Sampson, Marlene Creates, and Pat Martin Bates for the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery. He also writes about Graham Metson, Felicity Redgrave, Wayne Boucher, Les Sasaki and the Halifax Coalition for the Arts, an arts advocacy group.
He gives a lecture entitled "Recent Painting Halifax" at Mount Saint Vincent University.
In August Eyland becomes "Curator: Exhibitions & Resource Centre" at the Technical University of Nova Scotia's Faculty of Architecture (now "Daltech"). Dean Essy Baniassad, who is the charismatic Persian head of Architecture at TUNS, hires him.
Eyland: "I met my new colleagues in what I thought was an interview, but afterward Essy said: 'you know, Cliff, this was not an interview, you have the job.' 'What job?' I thought. He showed me an exhibition space and a room full of magazine clippings and let me go."
Eyland's task is to answer student questions about architecture, of which he knows nothing, and to organise and install architectural exhibitions, about which he knows even less.
Eyland begins his job using an IBM Selectric typewriter. Angela Mombourquette, a computer science student, is hired to teach Eyland how to use an IBM desktop computer in late 1985 or early 1986. Soon afterward, Eyland is given a Macintosh computer.
"I still vividly remember wondering where the type went when I hit the return key," says Eyland of his early computer training.
Eyland on his time at the Technical University of Nova Scotia: "I learned that one can "design" all the objects in a painting, a world inside a painting."
"The world of architecture at the time was the world of 'deconstruction,' says Eyland "A world of architecture without buildings and architecture as a kind of cerebral otherworldly art. One of the most delightful moments I had -- and there were many - was when visiting architect Zaha Hadid pointed at a mess of cubist lines in an image of her "peak" project and said 'the kitchen is right here.'"
Eyland participates in an artist-initiated group show called Ecphore in 1986, gluing an original drawing in each of 300 copies of the exhibition's catalogue. Although he has previously left original drawings between the leaves of library books, this is the first instance in which he puts original drawings in a publication.
His work is included in the exhibition Visual Facts, curated by Susan Gibson Garvey for Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax.
Documentation of his curatorial work is included in a group exhibition Ten Years of Eye Level in Halifax.
He writes about Andrew Forster for Vanguard magazine, his only publication that year. He attributes the fall off in his writing to the adjustments he is making to his new job at the TUNS School of Architecture.
He meets Newfoundlander Pam Perkins in 1986. She is a brilliant graduate student in English at Dalhousie University whose area of study is Romantic and Enlightenment-era British literature. In 1986 she is writing a Masters thesis in humour and Romanticism, and she will receive her PhD in English from Dalhousie in 1991.
Eyland creates a catalogue for a Michael Fernandes exhibition at the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery in 1987 that consists of a 5 1/4" electronic diskette and a folded poster in a clear plastic bag. The catalogue is produced before jpegs exist, so it includes only a text made using IBM "Wordstar" software. It could be the first diskette art catalogue in the world.
He writes about Graham Metson, Sean McQuay, Leah Evelyn, and, in relation to a group show of Moncton, New Brunswick artists, Yvon Gallant, Paul Bourque, Jacques Arsenault and Hermenegilde Chiasson.
He attends a national conference of Canadian Artists Representation in Ottawa at the new National Gallery building. He visits Ottawa again to serve on a Canada Council jury.
Eyland has no solo shows and only one group exhibition (the second and last group exhibition by the Ecphore collective) in 1987.
He visits Amherst, Massachusetts, gives a lecture about his work, and meets MFA students courtesy Blair Thurman, an American friend from his NSCAD days.
Eyland has a solo exhibition at Eye Level Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia entitled Ocean Playground (9-27 February 1988). "Ocean Playground" is Nova Scotia's motto as stamped onto the province's license plates.
The exhibition puts together paintings with annotated photocopies mounted on gessoed Masonite. The texts are based on Federation of Nova Scotian Heritage library card catalogue cards that Eyland had made for this provincial historical group when he catalogued their holdings a few years previously.
Ocean Playground is directly and indirectly related to Nova Scotian history. Some of the images on the text cards are illustrated with images from Eyland's maternal grandmother Kathleen Williams's photo albums. The work is influenced by Haligonian artists Janice Leonard and Eric Walker, who, each in their own way, are mixing up high art, folk art and local Halifax history in their art.
In 1988 Eyland begins dating Catherine Gallagher, who dies in a car accident shortly afterward. He makes paintings based on a drawing that he had made of Catherine shortly before her death (the original of which he gives to Catherine's mother). He also collaborates in the production of an exhibition of Gallagher's work for the Anna Leonowens Gallery.
Above: A 1988 self-portrait by Catherine Gallagher printed after her death by Joe O'Leary, at Cliff Eyland's request, in a 3"x5" format in 1988.
He begins going out with Pam Perkins.
He writes reviews about the work of Dennis Gill, Alex Livingston, David Bobier/Terry Graff, and Robert Pope, and he curates an exhibition of John Devlin's architectural drawings of Cambridge, England.
Eyland spends a month with Pam Perkins in London, England in 1989 at William Goodenough House, and while they are there the Berlin Wall falls. Although they are tempted to fly immediately to Berlin, they do not.
He participates in an exhibition at Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery entitled Ex Ex Ex, which includes work by former exhibitions officers. He also participates in a group exhibition at Eye Level Gallery.
Eyland and Brent Ash are asked by Technical University of Nova Scotia Faculty of Architecture Dean Essy Baniassad to curate a national conference and exhibition in Winnipeg for the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. They call the conference and exhibition The Place of Work in celebration of the French Revolution. They arrange for Anthony Vidler to be the keynote speaker, but get turned down by Michael Ignatieff, Jurgen Habermas and others.
The exhibition is perhaps the world's first faxable show, consisting of letter-sized sheets arranged in various configurations on walls both at Plug In and at many offsite venues.
They renovate Plug In Gallery on McDermot Street in Winnipeg for the exhibition. As they finish the renovation, the proprietor of the luggage store downstairs complains about dripping water from a floor wash. Plug In puts this problem off, and so a Sharon Alward performance/installation piece Totentanz that involves her mopping blood up from the floor makes headlines later in 1989 because the blood drips -- just like our floor slops had before -- into the luggage store below. This was Eyland's introduction to Plug In. Obviously, he had no idea at the time that he would eventually move to Winnipeg in 1994 and join Plug In's board in 1995.
Eyland curates an exhibition about the history of the Mount Allison University art department with Charlotte Townsend Gault and Gemey Kelly. The show is called Atque Ars.
He performs with the art band The Babbies Upstairs, a group that includes Michael Fernandes, Chris Woods, Richard Robertson and Scott Smith.
He writes about the artists Allan Harding McKay and filmmaker Bill MacGillivray.
Eyland has a solo show in 1990 at the Great George Street Gallery entitled Memoirs of a Spudnik (April 3-27) and he dedicates the exhibition to Kim Grant and her two kids Sarah and Joey. He sells a work from the show, a picture of Halifax's Citadel Hill, for $100.
In 1990 (and 1991) the tenth and last Dalhousie Drawing Exhibition travels to Burnaby, Calgary, St. John's, Moncton, and Charlottetown after opening in Halifax. Curator Susan Gibson-Garvey includes Eyland's set of steel storage cabinets that contain hundreds of drawings, paintings and small sculptures -- his entire oeuvre.
He curates exhibitions about the work of Richard Mueller, Chris Woods, Charlie Murphy, Theirry Delva and students of the Technical University of Nova Scotia School of Architecture (a show called Teaching/Practice, Architectural Education and the Visual Arts at Dalhousie University).
He writes about Peter Kirby for Arts Atlantic magazine.
Eric Cameron cites Eyland's writing about him in his National Gallery catalogue.
Eyland is a Canada Council jury member for exhibitions assistance in Ottawa.
He writes a screed about architecture for a student publication called Animadversion entitled "Three Criminal Acts in the Presentation of Architectural Design."
Eyland has a solo exhibition in 1991 at Struts Gallery in Sackville New Brunswick, curated by Michael Lawlor, who jams the paintings together on one wall, some upside down. Eyland is delighted with the arrangement.
Marlene Creates includes his work in the exhibition Small Works: in Search of a Non-toxic Art Practice at Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John's, Newfoundland.
He shows for the last time at the commercial gallery Studio 21 in Halifax.
He writes about the artists Carl Zimmerman, Yvon Gallant, Michael Fernandes, Alex Livingston and Nancy Edell.
From 1989/91 he is a thesis advisor: to architecture students Ross Wingrove, Andrew King, and Jamie Pye at TUNS Architecture (Daltech).
Eyland marries Pam Perkins in 1991.
He is diagnosed with "sarcoidosis," a lung disease.
Eyland: "Sarcoidosis is an unpredictable disease that can suddenly disappear or get worse. For me it has been a gradual downhill slide."
Above: Pam Perkins, 1992, graphite on gessoed 1/8th" Masonite board, 5"x3" (12.7x7.6 cm). Collection: Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Saint Mary's University Art Gallery in Halifax hosts a retrospective of Eyland's work in 1992 entitled The 100,000 Names of Art (16 MB PDF), curated by Leighton Davis. Saint Mary's produces an artist's book in an edition of 100 copies that includes an essay by John Murchie and writing by Eyland that is illustrated with his own ink drawings of other artist's work.
Eyland's latest painting has to do with his brother Terry who was "wilded" -- that is randomly attacked -- by thugs in Halifax. He also works on paintings based on a drawing he had done of Catherine Gallagher a few weeks before her death in 1988.
Eyland lives in Cambridge, England for eight months with Pam Perkins, who has a postdoctoral position there. He receives a $15000 Canada Council grant.
He studies Martin Gilbert's The Holocaust A Jewish Tragedy and Hobsbaum's The Making of the English Working Class. He makes drawings but very few paintings that year.
He curates an exhibition of Halifax sculptor John Greer's recent work for the Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum. The catalogue includes an essay by Eyland about Greer's entire career.
He writes about the artists Pam Hall, Gerard Collins, Blaine Arnot and Gerald Ferguson.
Eyland gives a lecture about his work at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, Newfoundland.
Eyland on Cambridge: "Cambridge was academic heaven, an ideal place to wander around and to think."
Eyland participates in only one group exhibition in 1993 at Saint Francis Xavier University, and he curates only one show, the exhibition Dennis Gill: Now and Then, with two versions of a catalogue, for an exhibition for Saint Mary's University Art Gallery in Halifax.
He has a solo show in 1994 of Recent Robots at Michael Lawlor's fledgling Gallery Sansair in Vancouver. He juries an open call exhibition at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum by "matching" his paintings as visual captions to works in the show.
He is also a juror for the Nova Scotia Art Bank.
He curates, with Sue Gibson Garvey, Uses of the Vernacular in Contemporary Nova Scotian Art for Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax. This show involves travel and research into Nova Scotian folk art.
He writes "Dada Data: Revival or What," for Arts Atlantic magazine.
Marlene Creates introduces Eyland to artist William Eakin at her Winnipeg Art Gallery exhibition opening. Eakin becomes a friend and the first Winnipeg artist that Eyland writes about.
Eyland becomes a member of a Nova Scotia College of Art & Design presidential search committee in 1994. The committee hires Alice Mansell. He makes drawings of search committee members during deliberations that are later published in Prairie Fire magazine.
He meets Winnipeg artist Diane Whitehouse at a Canada Council Visual Arts jury in Ottawa.
Eyland resigns his position at the Technical University of Nova Scotia Faculty of Architecture and moves to Winnipeg with Pam Perkins on 1 August 1994. He paints and writes full time until 1998, when he is offered a term position at the University of Manitoba School of Art teaching painting and running the School's Gallery One One One.
Eyland's 1995 solo exhibition at Halifax's Anna Leonowens Gallery is entitled Illustrations for Nothing.
His work is shown in Collective Viewing Selections from the Art Bank of Nova Scotia 1975-1995, at Saint Mary's University in Halifax and in a new Winnipeg co-op SITE Gallery in Winnipeg.
He writes "Inside Out," an essay on the work of Sarah Crawley and William Eakin for the Critical Distance series of Winnipeg's aceartinc. He also writes about Marlene Creates for Toronto's C Magazine. He writes about William Eakin in the catalogue Home Sweet Home for the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge.
Eleanor Bond asks Eyland to join the board of Winnipeg's Plug In artist-run gallery. Plug In is on the Manitoba Arts Council's "concerned status," a euphemism for the approach of a major funding cut. Wayne Baerwaldt, the director/curator, had re-mortgaged his house to keep the organization going. Neil Minuk, chair of the board -- and Wayne -- were the mainsprings of the gallery. Alison Norlen was board member, as was, a little later in the 1990s, Noam Gonick. Border Crossings's Meeka Walsh joins the board later, and Tim Schouten and others, including Marlene Stern sign up.
Plug In generated controversy in the 1990s and 2000s. especially with the The Moral Imagination exhibition, a compendium of provocative works organised by Wayne Baerwaldt.
Eyland: "A Winnipeg collector had lent Plug In some paintings by John Wayne Gacy, the executed killer. The Winnipeg Sun, a local tabloid, put one of the Gacy images on its front page with screaming headlines about arts funding, which was, and continues to be, the paper's only arts topic. The contentious Gacy works were never shown, against my objections and the objections of a few other board members who supported Plug In's right to show the stuff."
Eyland is on Plug In's board as vice-president for ten years, until 2005. One of the highlights was 2001's Venice biennial project. Other high points include the promotion of the Royal Art Lodge, the Beck/Al Hansen show, and an exhibition called Immense/Ordered/Deranged that Eyland curated for Plug In at Winnipeg's Cornish Library (see 1996).
Eyland: "Winnipeg encourages you to stay indoors - preferably in your basement -- and make a fantasy world for yourself. You can be an artist, or maybe a comic book collector, or maybe a crank inventor -- anything can happen because rent is cheap"
"Winnipeg artists are ambitious, they work very hard and yet they are seldom jealous of each other," says Eyland.
Eyland has a tiny solo show in 1996 called Scrapers at the Khyber Gallery in Halifax in a Zippo lighter display case. Scrapers includes abstract paintings in which paint was scraped up onto Masonite panels from a palette. Eyland thinks of these works as if they might be used to scrape frost off a car window, dirt off a floor, or paint off a palette.
He has a solo show at Gallery Connexion in Fredericton, New Brunswick entitled Wildlife for which he produces a file-card-sized catalogue. Ray Cronin, a board member of Gallery Connexion, interviews Eyland for Canada's C Magazine. "Wildlife" is a category of his work that includes imaginary animals and people, including Wayne Gretzky.
He also has a solo show called Empty Landscape Paintings 1981-96 at the Grande Prairie Art Gallery for which he also produces a 5"x3" catalogue.
An Eyland self-portrait owned by the Nova Scotia Art Bank is included in a Susan Foshay-curated exhibition of self-portraiture at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Eyland also writes an essay about self-portraiture for this exhibition.
He visits Belfast on a "British Council Northern Irish Contemporary Art Study Tour," part of a peace effort that includes curators from the United States and Canada. He meets Kathleen Goncharov, a curator at the New School for Social Research in New York, there.
He curates a large exhibition about Newfoundland art called Rethinking the Rural in Contemporary Newfoundland Art at the Art Gallery of Newfoundland & Labrador. The show includes work by Manfred Buchheit, Marlene Creates, Scott Goudie, Pam Hall, Marlene MacCallum, David Morrish, Beaty Popescu, Sharon Puddester: Leslie Sasaki, and Suzanne Swannie.
He organises a group show for Plug In Inc. at the Cornish Library in Winnipeg called Immense/Ordered/Deranged that includes Jo-Anne Balcaen, Richard Brown, Susan Chafe, Sarah Crawley, William Eakin, Shaun Gough, Patrick Hartnett, Patti Johnson, Jean Klimack, Doug Lewis, John Maclean, Erika MacPherson, Claire Marchand, Karri Moffatt, Debra Mosher, Kim Ouellette, Angela Somerset, Harry Symons, and Evan Tapper. The exhibition travels to the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax.
He also curates Collins, Forster, Henderson, Klabunde, an exhibition of NSCAD Alumni, for the Anna Leonowens.
He writes about Eva Stubbs, Richard Brown, Aganetha Dyck, Yvon Gallant, Suzanne Gauthier, Mary Joyce, and John Wayne Gacy in 1996.
In 1997, Eyland begins the ongoing installation File Card Works Hidden in Books at the Raymond Fogelman Library at 65 Fifth Avenue, New York, sponsored by the New School University (formerly the New School for Social Research). He is assisted by curator Kathleen Goncharov, who organises a reception, and Fogelman librarian Gail Persky, who gives him formal permission to do the work. He will continue to hide hundreds original drawings in Fogelman books yearly until 2005, when the new librarian asks him to stop: "We pay people to take out what people like you put in," he says. (Eyland plans to continue this work when he again gets formal permission.) Robert McGee writes about the show for Border Crossings magazine
He has a solo exhibition at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax called Retouched Reproductions. The works are 11"x17" colour photocopies made directly from original file card paintings by scanning and enlarging them with bits of acrylic paint added to the paper reproductions.
He also has a solo exhibition in 1997 at Site Gallery in Winnipeg entitled Indices.
He participates in a two-person exhibition at the Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John's, Newfoundland with Mark Marstars.
He writes about wildlife art and Kelly Clark for Border Crossings magazine, and about Betty Spackman/Anja Westerfrolke for the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and Border Crossings magazine. He also writes and curates an exhibition for Plug In about the work of Harry Symons.
He teaches during the summer months (1997/1998/1999) at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design.
Eyland on New York:
"New York is my favourite city, and I have had the good luck to have been able to visit it frequently over the years."
Eyland on teaching summers at NSCAD: "Jerry Ferguson hired me to teach, and I'll owe him forever for that. Summers were a regular term at NSCAD, full of energy and fun. I love Halifax the way anybody loves his or her hometown. One summer I organised a trip for NSCAD students to Prince Edward Island with Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum Director Terry Graff's help. Making art on the summer beaches was bliss."
Eyland has a solo exhibition of recent works in 1998 at the artist-run co-operative gallery Site in Winnipeg. The show is entitled Inventory. He has a solo show called The ID Paintings at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, curated by Shirley Madill. Eric Cameron and Doug Lewis write catalogue essays for the show.
He collaborates with Prince Edward Island poet Joseph Sherman on an exhibition of poems and paintings for the Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum entitled Wallenberg Country. The show's contents enter the Confederation Centre's permanent collection.
The University of Manitoba's School of Art Interim Director Steve Higgins hires Eyland as an assistant professor of painting and interim director of Gallery One One One.
(Term positions have two-year limits at the University of Manitoba, so Eyland is offered a one-year lectureship after that. In 2001 the position goes "tenure track," meaning that a national search and application process was initiated, and Eyland gets the tenure-track position in 2001.)
Eyland organises a show of four Belfast artists at Plug In Inc. entitled NI Gulp on the basis of research done with Alison Norlen in 1996. He lends his apartment to the artists but never sees the exhibition because the show happens during the summer while he was in Halifax.
He collaborates with Andrew Hunter by contributing drawings to a pamphlet entitled Billy's Vision. Neither Hunter nor Eyland are happy with the results.
With Peter Dykhuis, he curates a group exhibition of contemporary abstract painting entitled Monitor Goo: Abstract Painting n the Age of Video which includes young New York-based Canadian artists Dell Sala, Kym Greeley, Shannon Finley, Rachel Beach, and Dan Rushton, and older Winnipeg artists Bruce Head, Winston Leathers and Don Reichert.
He curates his first show for Gallery One One One at the University of Manitoba, a solo show of the work of Halifax painter Alex Livingston.
Eyland visits Lethbridge, Alberta to give a lecture about his work.
He writes about Kelly Mark and Ted Howorth. His drawings are reproduced in the Autumn edition of Winnipeg's Prairie Fire magazione. He also writes a piece called Romancing the Edge for Border Crossings magazine.
Beginning in 1998 he visits Minneapolis and Chicago as part of the annual School of Art trip. His pattern of travel after 1998 has him visiting Minneapolis, Chicago and New York yearly, the east coast of Canada almost yearly, and miscellaneous other places.
He becomes chair of the School of Art's painting area in 1998 (until 2000).
In 1999 Eyland has a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, curated by Christina Ritchie, entitled Excerpts/Inserts. Ritchie and Donald Rance write essays for the brochure. The work consists of MDF blocks painted to look like nineteenth-century books and it also includes a file cabinet full of photocopies of handmade reference cards to books in the Art Gallery of Ontario's Taylor Library. An installation of pencil drawings hidden in books and files also happens at the Taylor library and the AGO archives.
The show opens during a period of labour unrest at the AGO, and Eyland joins the picket line during the opening reception of his show.
He has a solo show at the Muttart Gallery (soon to be renamed The Art Gallery of Calgary), curated by Kay Burns, in which drawings are hidden in books in the Muttart's adjacent public library.
He has his first two solo exhibitions at Toronto's Leo Kamen Gallery in 1999, entitled Inventory, which includes about 300 paintings, and Sexual Healing, which includes erotic art.
With Claire Marchand he installs an exhibition at St. Norbert Arts and Cultural Centre entitled The Miracle of Saint Norbert, for which the artists produce a 5"x3" booklet.
Eyland teaches during the summer at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design.
He writes about David Askevold, Harold Klunder, Shanghai artists at Plug In Inc., Helen Sadler and Belfast artists at Plug In.
Eyland has a solo exhibition in 2000 at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia entitled Labels (September -- December) organised by Virginia Stephen. The show includes the results of his summer residency at the gallery. Eyland's works are used as visual labels for works in the permanent collection of the AGNS, displayed next to the gallery's regular text labels. He also shows other "label" works in a set of black rooms at the AGNS, as if to "illustrate nothing."
Eyland's solo show at the Art Gallery of Ontario continues (8 December 1999 to 27 February 2000). A concurrent exhibition happens at Leo Kamen Gallery.
He is included in a group show about conceptual art at the library of the National Gallery of Canada entitled Halifax Proposals, curated by Peter Trepanier in conjunction with a solo exhibition of the work of Gary Neill Kennedy.
He participates in a group exhibition at the Cumberland Museum in Amherst, Nova Scotia called Making Good, with Susan Woods and Jim MacSwain. Several of his paintings are stolen from the show and never recovered.
He has a two-person show with Alec Shepley at the Manchester metropolitan University Gallery in England entitled Better World Space, curated by John Hyatt.
The Halifax artist Caroline Chan includes Eyland's work in an exhibition at an ancient "Martello Tower" military fortification in Halifax: the show is called Martello Tower.
The artist's father Ronald James Eyland dies on 7 November, the artist's birthday.
Eyland curates exhibitions about the work of Cecile Clayton Gouthro, Lezli Rubin-Kunda, Sharon Alward and Eduardo Aquino for Gallery One One One.
He writes about Icelandic art, about a group of artists who visited Newfoundland, and about the artists Vanessa Paschakarnis, David Miller, Eleanor Bond, Kelly Mark, Diane Whitehouse, Monica Tap, Richard Williams, (and for a Winnipeg Art Gallery group show catalogue:) Paul Butler, Daniel Dueck, Jacek Kosciuk, Marcel Dzama, Blair Marten, Jean Klimack, Christina Kirouac, Lori Rogers and Jake Moore.
He meets the artist Carolee Schneemann and begins to study her work.
Eyland spends the summer of 2001 in New York City with Charmaine Wheatley at her Chelsea loft. He makes many Adobe Illustrator drawings based on pencil sketches, work he shows at Leo Kamen Gallery later that year in an exhibition entitled Retouched Reproductions.
He visits the World Trade Center's Windows on the World bar with Dominique Rey. Eyland: "I had invited several Winnipeg artists to New York that summer, and my intention was to take them all to the Windows bar, but it turned out that only Dominique and I made it."
He also visits Venice as vice-president of Plug In ICA to assist with the Canadian pavilion at the Venice Biennial, which features work by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.
He visits the Orkney Islands with Pam Perkins, Kirsteen McCue, David Hamilton and the children Dora and Gregor Hamilton.
He is offered a tenure-track position as an assistant professor University of Manitoba School of Art after having had in succession since 1998 two full time term positions and a lectureship.
He has a solo exhibition in Brandon, Manitoba, curated by Chris Reid, called File Card Sort. He distributes original drawings in the pockets of the exhibition's publication.
His work appears in a group exhibition about NSCAD at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia entitled Second Century, curated by Ray Cronin. He participates in a group exhibition at The Other Gallery in Winnipeg. His work appears in the Florence Biennial, a vanity biennial to which Eyland contributes reproductions of an image of his father on his deathbed.
The photograph of Eyland's father also appears on the cover of the literary journal The Malahat Review and is ridiculed by the Globe & Mail's Lynn Crosbie.
He curates a show of work by Charmaine Wheatley for Gallery One One One that travels to the Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery in Halifax.
He also curates solo shows about Paul Butler, Fred Liang, and Peter Yeadon for Gallery One One One, and he writes about a controversial Cathy Mattes-curated Louis Riel exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the Jamaican artist Joe Clarence and an essay that he had written about Monica Tap appears in Arts Atlantic magazine.
He explains his rationale for pricing his paintings in an anthology edited by Sally McKay and Andrew Patterson for YYZ Books entitled Money, Value, Art. The essay is called "Mixed Funding, Mixed Markets, Little Pictures."
Soundtrack, 2001: Red House Painters, Le Tigre,
In 2002 Eyland writes a proposal for a Masters of Fine Arts program for the University of Manitoba School of Art, with the advice of Dale Amundson, Sharon Alward and Alex Poruchnyk. He attends a Paul Butler collage party at the Toronto Art Fair and Shirley Thompson, former director of the National Gallery, buys a drawing of his for $50.
He curates solo exhibitions at Gallery One One One of work by Bev Pike, Dominique Rey and Micah Lexier. A version of his curatorial essay about Germaine Koh is published in Border Crossings magazine, and he writes about Gerald Ferguson,William Eakin/Robert Epp, Rosalie Favell, Chris Dorosz, and an essay called "Sleeping Under Stars."
He participates in a group exhibition at the Michael Gibson Gallery in London, Ontario. He also participates in a New York exhibition called The Free Biennial, which brings attention to his Raymond Fogelman Library project. Andrew Hunter includes his work in an exhibition called Billy's Vision that tours to the Mendel Gallery in Saskatoon, the National Gallery of Canada, and other venues. His photographs of the 2001 Venice Biennial are shown in the Plug In ICA exhibition Back in the Day, a documentary show about the history of Plug In.
In 2003 Eyland gives a paper entitled "Painting the Multiverse" at the annual Universities Art Association of Canada conference. The paper is about contemporary theoretical physics and art, and urges artists to think seriously about the art implications of multiverse theories. A multiverse idea also informs Eyland's scheme for his upcoming 2004-05 Winnipeg Millennium Library Wall commission.
He shows what he calls "brick paintings" at Leo Kamen Gallery. Brick paintings are cellphone-like works meant to be heavy enough to throw through a window, perhaps with a message attached. A Brick Paintings Set is short-listed in a national painting competition and tour sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada and The Canadian Art Foundation.
A small survey of his abstract paintings is shown in From AbEx to Pomo, curated by Susan Gibson Garvey, at Dalhousie Art Gallery in Halifax. He participates in an exhibition in New York City entitled Bookworks at Exspace Gallery.
With Carol Phillips of Plug In ICA, Eyland curates an overview called YWA: Young Winnipeg Artists that includes painting by Roger Crait, Simon Hughes, Jake Kosciuk, Shaun Morin, Melanie Rocan, and Lisa Wood; installation art by KC Adams, Risa Horowitz, and Erika Lincoln; photo-based work by Dominique Rey, Les Newman, Chris MacDonald and Veronica Preweda; and mixed media work by Parminder Obhi and Cyrus Smith.
He curates, for Gallery One One One, an exhibition about the public art of Bernie Miller and Alan Tregebov; a show about the Woodland School artists Joshim and Goyce Kakegamic; and an exhibition about the New York artist Myrel Chernick.
He curates an exhibition about the work of three recent School of Art graduates Agatha Doerksen, Anne Dunlop, and Corliss van Caeseele at the McDermot Adelaide Gallery in Winnipeg.
Eyland forms an art band with Tannis Kohut and Dominique Rey that they call "The Abzurbs" in order to participate in a performance event at aceartinc in Winnipeg. The Abzurbs is a performance /rock/pose band. They also make visual art. William Eakin joins the band soon after its inception as a "musician" who "plays" cameras. Later Vanessa Rigaux, Florain Lassnig, Ryan Ahoff, Lancelot Coar, and Craig Love join the band, as well as a number of "flavours" of the month, the year, and the millennium.
Eyland curates a group exhibition at Gallery One One One about Canadian process painting entitled Newton's Prism: Layer Painting, a curatorial investigation that he will continue.
He writes about the artists William Eakin, William Pura and Paul Butler.
In 2004 Eyland receives a commission to put hundreds of paintings on a wall in the new Winnipeg Millennium Library. Although "completed" in 2005, Eyland will continue to add works to the wall.
He is included in a painting exhibition at Winnipeg's aceartinc called Bound and in a fundraiser Night of a Thousand Drawings at Artists Space, New York City
He gives an artist's talk at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design.
Eyland does a lecture/performance entitled "What it Feels like to be an Artist /What it Feels like to be a Curator" with Denise Miller and Jenny Koslowsky at Plug In. He participates in a performance work by Geoffrey Hendricks entitled "Question: a Circle?" at the School of Art by reading his own aphorisms prefaced with the phrase "I dreamed."
He interviews Winston Leathers and writes about student artists who produce a show called One Month Free Rent. He also writes about Gallery One One One's Gothic Unconscious exhibition, about the photographer Richard Holden, and about the artists John Armstrong and Paul Collins.
He contributes original drawings to an Eye Level Gallery (Halifax) project called Paperwork 30.
He is co-chair of the UofM School of Art's Painting Area.
In 2005 Eyland has a solo exhibition at Leo Kamen Gallery entitled Note Paintings (12 February to 5 March) in which paintings are accompanied by poetic notes.
He has a solo show called Atomically Gobsmacked at the Art Gallery of the Southern Okanogan (recently renamed the Art Gallery of Penticton) in British Columbia, curated by Curtis Collins. The show consists of only a few works, one per wall, the way Eyland would always like his work to be viewed.
Group shows in 2005 include I AM - Self Portraits- A Tribute To Lynn Donoghue, James Baird Gallery, St. John's, Newfoundland; Night of a Thousand Drawings (invited, fund raiser) Artists Space, New York City; Winnipeg Library Competition Maquettes, at aceartinc, Winnipeg; and Threeway at Cream Gallery with Craig Love and Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline.
He resigns from Plug In ICA because of uncertain health and his unwillingness to participate in building Plug In a permanent home.
Eyland's Untitled Winnipeg Millennium Library installation opens on 7 November, his birthday.
Broken Pencil magazine prints a photograph of the Abzurbs on its cover.
Leala Katz opens a gallery in Winnipeg called Cream and Eyland participates in a show there entitled Three Way with Craig Love & Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline.
Kristine Perlmutter writes an article "'A Silva Rerum' (A Forest of Things): The Art of Cliff Eyland," for The Icelandic Canadian on the assumption that Eyland is Icelandic. (Eyland considers himself "Icelandish" not Icelandic.)
He curates exhibitions about the work of Celia Rabinovitch, and Richard Williams.
He interviews Vibeke Sorenson about her Gallery One One One show; he writes about a Joseph Albers exhibition; for a London, Ontario show about contemporary Canadian drawing; about Gordon Lebredt, KC Adams; Ivan Eyre; Alex Colville and Dusen Kadlec.
Eyland and Pam Perkins buy a house on McMillan Avenue in Winnipeg's Corydon district in 2005, a first for either of them. The house is set up with a studio, a television set, laundry room, and a high-speed modem -- all new things in the artist's life. (Eyland keeps his studio on the 5th floor of 75 Albert Street.)
In 2006 Eyland visits Iceland for the first time.
He has an exhibition of his "mobiles" called Cameras, Cellphones and Hard Drives at Gallery 1C03 at the University of Winnipeg, (22 September to 21 October), curated by Donna Jones and Jennifer Gibson. He participates in an exhibition with Craig Love at Winnipeg's 803 Gallery.
He begins to write regular reports on Winnipeg art for the Toronto-based online magazine Akimbo.ca in an informal exchange for ads for Gallery One One One and his own exhibitions.
Eyland's art, and that of his band The Abzurbs, is discussed and reproduced in an overview of Winnipeg art by Robert Enright and Guy Maddin in Britain's Frieze magazine.
He participates in a fund-raising concert with the Abzurbs for Platform Gallery in Winnipeg that becomes a video posted on YouTube, edited by Jennifer Stillwell.
He curates exhibitions about the Winnipeg art collective Two Six, a solo KC Adams exhibition, and a group show at Winnipeg's Outworks Gallery entitled Take this You... that includes Karen Wardle, Aleem Khan, Sarah Johnston, Jessica Perry, Jordan Miller, and Clyde Finlay. He writes about Sarah Anne Johnson and Shaan Syed for Border Crossings magazine.He writes about Gordon Lebredt for Gallery One One One.
Eyland develops two "new media" courses for the School of Art entitled: "Current Debates in New Media" and "Foundations in New Media."
Eyland's 2007 solo show at Leo Kamen Gallery in Toronto is called Party Pictures. It opens to mostly negative reviews.
He organises, for Urban Shaman Gallery, the exhibition Plastic Woodland that includes aboriginal University of Manitoba students Peter Prince, Jackie Traverse, Jamie Fougere, Joan Larson and Suzanne Morrisette.
Eyland gives a talk to Canadian university art gallery staff in Montreal, with Gallery One One One's Gallerist Robert Epp, advocating website and electronic publications for public galleries. He also speaks at the annual meeting of Canadian Artists Representation in favour of a mixed economy of art objects and "performative" installations.
He visits Carolee Schneemann in Montreal in order to do research on an essay he is writing about her, Picasso and Duchamp.
He curates, for Gallery One One One, a solo exhibition of work by Kathleen Fonseca, and a group show that includes work by Eleanor Bond, Aganetha Dyck, Wanda Koop, and Diana Thorneycroft. He puts together an "Art School Anatomies" team with Jeanne Randolph, Dick Averns, Natalija Subotincic and others, and writes an essay with Jeanne Randolph about art school.
He writes about the abstract painter Melanie Authier for Border Crossings magazine.
He visits Iceland again.
85 original drawings of his are included in The Swag Bag project, organised by Kerri-Lynn Reeves.
Eyland's work is shown at Calgary's Nickle Arts Museum in 2008 as part of a city-wide exhibition of recent Glenbow Museum acquisitions.
His work is included in a ten-year retrospective catalogue of the annual national RBC Painting Competition and in an "Alphabestiary" published by Border Crossings magazine.
He puts together an Art School Anatomies, symposium with Jeanne Randolph, Dick Averns, Morris Wolfe and Marilyn Baker in which the past, present and future of art schools is discussed.
Eyland curates Gallery One One One exhibitions that include the work of Stephen Grimmer, Kevin Kelly, Steven Nunoda, Alex Poruchnyk and Kirk Warren (Maze); Richard Condie (co-curated with Shelley Sweeney); Sarah Crawley, Sarah Anne Johnson, Lisa Stinner, Craig Love, Johanna Schmidt, Lisa Wood, Derek Brueckner, Susan Close, Karen Hibbard, and Bruce Kirton (Revolver).
He writes, for Border Crossings magazine, about Karel Funk, Tim Gardner, Derek Sullivan and Natalija Subotincic.
He visits Iceland and delivers a paper about contemporary Icelandic art at the University of Iceland.
Eyland visits Newfoundland in 2009 for a month. He does a residency at the artist Colette Urban's Full Tilt Creative Centre near Corner Brook, where he makes monochrome paintings on paper. He also stays in St. John's and makes acrylic watercolour paintings of the harbour that will have depictions of contemporary art added to them later.
He shows Bookshelf File Cards at Leo Kamen Gallery in Toronto. The show gets attention from The Globe & Mail, The National Post, Canadian Art Magazine, and many book and library related blogs. He makes 11x17" posters of some of the works.
He curates a series of group shows at Gallery One One One entitled Revolver (2008-09); a solo Les Newman exhibition; and an exhibition of the work of the Icelandic artist Hannes Larusson, an installation by Jeffrey Spalding, and an exhibition/work entitled The Border Crossings Study Centre.
He writes about St. John's Newfoundland, among other things, for Akimbo.ca.
In 2010, from January to July, Eyland takes his first sabbatical from the University of Manitoba since being hired there in 1998.
He receives a Manitoba Arts Council grant in late 2009 that he uses in 2010 to begin to organize his archives and to prepare retrospective sets of his works for distribution to museums, archives and art galleries. He hires librarian Janet Rothney, photographer William Eakin and cabinet maker Adrian Schimnowski to help him with the beginnings of this long-term project.
He makes hundreds of paintings during his sabbatical months that include new sets called "meditation blocks," "crosses of lost faith," "monoliths," and "dreamers." He also makes more "Abdroids," "landscapes with art," "typical landscapes," and "bookshelf file cards," as well as many drawings and paintings on miscellaneous subjects. Eyland collaborates with The Abzurbs in appearances at various locations in Manitoba as part of Lancelot Coar's en route architectural/performance project.
Eyland starts to make 12"x18" PDF/print-out books. Several books are made in collaboration with Guy Maddin. They are called "wall books" because they are large loose-leaf things that can be mounted for exhibition. Several friends collaborate on a book with the Icelandic writer Birna Bjarnadottir: the book is designed by Eyland with an introduction by George Toles and illustrations by Eyland, Maddin, and Haraldur Jonsson. Eyland also collaborates with philosopher Carl Matheson on a book of aphorisms. The Bjarnadottir book of fragments is shown in Reykjavik at the City Library (August-September, 2010) and the Nordic House (May-June, 2010). The Guy Maddin/Cliff Eyland collaborations are shown and sold at a Plug In ICA fundraiser, and an article by Robert Enright about the Maddin/Eyland work appears in Border Crossings magazine. Eyland shows the Bjarnadottir, Maddin, Matheson and other PDF/print-out books by invitation at the 2010 New York Art Book Fair at PS1 in November 2010.
Eyland also begins to make retrospective PDF books about his own work in many sizes that are intended to be included in proposals for future exhibitions.
He curates exhibitions about Carolee Schneemann and Jillian Mcdonald for Gallery One One One in collaboration with curatorial advisor Alex Poruchnyk. He writes a review of Wanda Koop's Winnipeg Art Gallery retrospective for Galleries West magazine, and about J.J. Kegan McFadden for Border Crossings. He continues to write reports from Winnipeg for Akimbo.ca.
A page from Eyland's collaboration with Carl Matheson is included in a travelling Plug In ICA exhibition called FAX. One of his "cellphone" paintings is reproduced on the cover of an issue of Prairie Fire magazine. He shows his paintings in group exhibitions at Twist Gallery in Winnipeg. One of his works -- entitled Xmas Beast -- is acquired by the Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of a group of artists' works called "The Alphabestiary." He updates his Winnipeg Millennium Library installation by spending a couple of weeks adding new paintings to the wall.
Eyland enters the lung transplant assessment program of Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre in 2010. He asks to be relieved of his duties as Director of Gallery One One One as of 31 December 2010. His appointment as a painting professor at the School of Art continues.
Eyland launches his own website in 2010: www.cliffeyland.com.