Phil Darrah

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Artist Statement

In 1997 I moved my home and studio from the city of Edmonton to an acreage in Mulhurst Bay. This remove, in conjunction with preparations for an exhibition in Greece, and the recent death of my mother, brought about significant changes in my approach and practice.

Up to this time I had considered myself to be exclusively an abstract painter. At first, I found myself in the process of “taking stock” of those painting issues and assumptions that had been a feature of earlier working periods and I began to re-examine some of them. The September 2002 exhibition in Greece was entitled “Recollections” and was the first public acknowledgement of this process.

I had begun to allow the things in my immediate environment that I habitually looked at with fondness, to have a greater presence in my paintings. The Purple Martin birdhouse in my yard is invariably the first thing I see as I look out of my bedroom window. This shape with it’s serrated edges, formed by the three tiers of platforms, that constitute the birdhouse, struck a visual chord for me and being similar, in my perception at least, to the serrated edges, of an architectural niche in a wall in Karnak in Luxor, which in ’89 had also had a powerful impact, began to be a starting point in the centre of each picture. It became for a while, a “given” and virtually all the paintings between 1998 and 2003 had this shape, usually in the centre, as a point of departure.

During the 2002 Greek tour of museums and later in 2004, I made a few drawings of both landscapes and more particularly, antique ceramics. In 2002 a white Lekythos, in the collection of Charles Politis, held great resonance for me and I made a few impromptu sketches on the backs of envelopes.

Some of these drawings subsequently led to and some were incorporated into, a painting based on this wonderful ceramic. I came to consider this painting a sort of double tribute. On the one hand, to the antique master ceramicist and painter and on the other, to Picasso, who I began to believe had stood before this very Lekythos, in admiration. So, some of my paintings, when derived from a very rich and resonant source, are a way of bringing in to my experience (much in the way that children “act out” scenarios and come to an understanding of “fixing” of situations), the essence of the subject. Later the painting process digests the literal and my personal abstract language takes over.

Phil Darrah


Harrogate School of Art, Yorkshire, U.K., 1957-60 
The Slade School of Fine Art, University College, London, 
1961-64. Awarded Honours

Solo Exhibitions


"In and of Itself", two person exhibit. April 6 - May 7 - Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC


“Phil Darrah”. March 18 - April 5 - Peter Robertson Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta


“Over The Edge”. Two person exhibit. Oct. 1 - Nov 3 - Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.


“Phil Darrah / Recent Work”. Nov 22-Dec 9 - Peter Robertson Galley, Edmonton, Alberta
“Phil Darrah / Painting and Drawing”. June 5 - July 1 - Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.


“Songs and Anthems”. Oct. 15 - Peter Robertson Gallery Edmonton, Alberta


“Full Circle”. Nov. 5 - Dec. 9 - Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC


Philip Darrah “Excursions”. May 27 - Peter Robertson Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta


“Songs of Love” March 1 - Apr 3 - Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.


“Renewal”, Vanderleelie Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta


“Recollections”, The Exhibition House, Falatados, Tinos, Greece

Group Exhibitions


Art on the Block. Art Gallery of Alberta
“Poetica”, Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC
2013 Art on the Block. Art Gallery of Alberta
"Bits and Pieces", Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC


7 Years in The City: Art from the AGA collection
"Summer Tributes", Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC


"Deck the Walls", Group Show, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC


"Colour Salute", Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC


Seeing Through Modernism 1970 - 1985 (Part 2) - The University of Alberta FAB Gallery, Curated by Dr. Anne Whitelaw
Seeing Through Modernism (Part 1 ) - Art Gallery of Alberta,  Guest curator Dr. Anne Whitelaw


David Cantine and Phil Darrah, Vanderleelie Gallery
Abstraction - Peter Robertson Gallery, Edmonton


“Grand Opening”, Group Exhibition, Sopa Fine Arts, Kelowna, BC.


“Edmonton Excels” Half a Century of Painters at the University of Alberta’s Department of Art & Design.


“Flash Point”. Painting exhibit, FAB Gallery, U of A
“Just Dessert”. Paintings at the U of A Faculty Club


Faculty Group Show. FAB Gallery, U of A


“Works on Paper”, group exhibit, Vanderleelie Gallery, Edmonton


Group Show, Vanderleelie Gallery, Edmonton
ECAS (Edmonton Contemporary Artists Society), Commerce Place, Edmonton
Trimark Investments Corporate Collections, EAG


“Abstraction, Which Way From Here?” (From the collection of the Lethbridge University Art Gallery), Triangle Gallery, Calgary
ECAS Inaugural Exhibition, Commerce Place, Edmonton


City Hall Acquisitions, City Hall, Edmonton


Staff Show, FAB Gallery, Dept. Art & Design, U of Alberta


Abstract Painting - Canadian & American, Virginia Christopher Gallery, Calgary
Fall Show, Woltjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton
Alberta Drawing, Edmonton Art Gallery
Acquisitions ’89, EAG
Alberta Painting, Edmonton Art Gallery
Faculty Show, FAB Gallery, U of Alberta
Edmonton ’90 Studio Watch, EAG
Art For All, fundraising exhibit,  EAG
In House Exhibit, Clinical Sciences Building, U of A


Art For All, fundraising exhibit, EAG
Studio Watch, curated by Russel Bingham
Department of Art & Design Staff Exhibition Part 2, FAB Gallery, U of A
Wescan Fund Raising Exhibition, Edmonton


Collaboration in Clay, Bank of Montreal Building, Edmonton
In Touch With Abstract Art, McMullen Gallery,
Walter C. Mackenzie Health Sciences Centre, Edmonton
Faculty Exhibition, FAB Gallery, U of A. Edmonton
Alberta Art Foundation, New Acquisitions, EAG
Collaboration in Clay, travelling exhibit in conjunction with Calgary Ceramics
Contemporary Edmonton Art, curated by Russel Bingham. EAG
Art For All, fundraiser, EAG
Abstract Art in Edmonton. EAG
Studio Watch, selected by Ken Moffet, EAG


Art For All, fundraiser, EAG


Staff Exhibition, Dept. Art & Design, U of A


Drawings, Woltjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton
Alberta Invitational Art Show, CNIB, Edmonton
60th Anniversary Exhibition, EAG


Selected Gallery Artists, Wotjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton
1983 Alberta Invitational Art Show, CNIB, Edmonton
Fall Show, Woltjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton
Grand Opening, Woltjen / Udell Gallery, Edmonton
My Favourite Picture Show, EAG


Recent Accessions, EAG
Emerging Canadian Artists, Evelyn Aimis Fine Art, Toronto
The Threshold of Color, EAG
A Selected Group Exhibition, Downstairs Gallery, Edmonton


Some Drawings by Some Albertans, EAG
Recent Acquisitions, Glenbow Museum, Calgary


Group Show, Martin Gerard Gallery, Edmonton


Abstract Paper Works, EAG Extension
Draw111, Students Union Gallery, U of A


Faculty Show, Department of Art & Design, U of A


U of A Staff Show, Ring House Gallery, U of A
New Abstract Art, EAG


Drawing Exhibition, EAG Extension
Circa ’76, Latitude 53, Edmonton


Alberta Contemporary Drawing, EAG


Two Man Drawing Exhibit, Latitude 53, Edmonton


Alberta Contemporary Drawings, EAG


Young Contemporaries 62, ICA Gallery, London, UK


Bradford Spring Exhibition, Walker Art Gallery, Bradford, UK

International Exhibitions


“Recollections”, solo exhibit, The Exhibition House, Falatados, Tinos, Greece



Ministry of Public Buildings & Works, U.K. 
Glenbow Museum, Calgary 
Edmonton Art Gallery 
Alberta Art Foundation 
Bonderove & Co., Edmonton 
Fort McMurray Community College 
First City Trust, Edmonton 
Shoctor Hill Mousseau & Starkman, Edmonton 
Apple Computer Corp., Edmonton 
Canada Council Art Bank 
Cineplex Odeon Corp., Edmonton 
City Hall - City of Edmonton 
The Treasury Branch, Edmonton Centre 
The Lethbridge University Art Gallery Collection 
Doreen Sulyma Professional Corporation 
Canadian Airlines International 
Lombard Odier, Hong Kong 
The Fraser/Nag Partnership, Dubai, U.A.E. 
Jerrold Diamond Professional Corporation. 
Dr L. Russet Professional Corporation. 
UBC. Okanagan Campus, Kelowna, BC. “The White Piano”



The Cineplex Odeon Corporation, “Western Projections” WEM, Edmonton 


The Francis Winspear Music Centre Foundation, “Calix”, Edmonton

Selected Reviews & Publications

“Cineplex Odeon”. The First Ten Years. A Celebration of Contemporary Canadian Art. - Written by David Burnett
“Abstract Painting In Canada” Roald Nesgaard. - Published by Douglas & McIntyre, 2007

Awards & Workshops

1972 - Research Grant, U. of A. 
1974 - Travel Grant, U. of A. 
1982 - Canada Council Travel Grant
2003, SAS Travel Grant, U of A
1983 The Emma Lake Workshop, U of Sask
1986 Collaboration In Clay, The Works, Edmonton


Phil Darrah

1940 United Kingdom
1968 Emigrated to Canada