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John Graham’s Mural 'Northern Lights' (1963, mosaic tile, aluminum and acrylic) at the Winnipeg International Airport (now destroyed)
by Simon Hughes
Printed by Andrew Lodwick
Edition of 15 serigraph prints on Stonehenge paper
Image Size: 52 x 14 inches (132 x 35.6 cm)
Paper Size: 57.75 x 20.5 inches (146.7 x 52 cm)
This work is a scale replica of a massive (12 x 45 metres) public artwork that I grew up seeing in the Winnipeg airport. The airport was classic international-style modernist building that was torn down recently. The artwork was dissembled and sent to the air and space museum in Ottawa, where it will apparently be displayed someday. My version is as exact to the original as possible and involved an elaborate diagramming of the piece from available archival imagery. It is, however, pathetic in its attempt to recreate Graham’s piece, as its scale is only a tiny fraction of the original (although quite large for a print). Many people tried to preserve the “old” (1964) airport and keep this artwork in Winnipeg, but to no avail. This project stems from the frustration of having a lost cause and seeing something you consider beautiful and important be lost due to public indifference and even animosity. It expresses a nostalgia for a kind of golden age of ambitious public art in Canada when artists, government and architecture seemed to share a common purpose within the project of Modernism. This serigraph is based on my 2014 watercolour of the same subject and was exactingly reconstructed digitally and then printed with incredible patience and precision by Master Printer Andrew Lodwick.
Simon Hughes is a visual artist based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, whose art practice encompasses drawing, painting, video, and public art. Simon has been exhibiting in galleries, museums, film festivals, and other venues since completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba in 1996. In 2010, he received a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of California, Irvine. Simon has had solo exhibitions with Division Gallery in Montreal and Toronto, Lantern in Winnipeg and with Julie Saul Gallery in New York City, and has participated in numerous group exhibitions in museums, including the Alberta Art Gallery, the Mendel, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada and La Maison Rouge in Paris. His work is the collections of the WAG, the National Gallery, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia as well as private and corporate collections across Canada and abroad. A major new public artwork in mosaic tile by Simon will be unveiled in Winnipeg in 2017.