A Q&A with Local Artist, Amy Walsh-Harris

We chatted with local artist Amy Walsh-Harris, who has a very exciting show at Wychwood Barns (just down the street from The Nest!) this weekend. We can’t wait – get the details at the end of the post.

Hi Amy! Can you please tell us a little about yourself:

I was born in Toronto and currently live here as well. Although I have traveled and lived in other countries I really feel like Toronto is my home. Over the last 20 years I have lived in many different areas of this city. Each neighbourhood has its own little community and culture which is something I love so much.

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Did you have professional training? Were you always interested in the arts?

I’ve had a little professional training, but for the most part I am self-taught. I have sketched since I was very young. I went to Wexford Collegiate which was an arts and theatre high school, however it was when I was in university (studying English at the time) when I really started to paint. It was during that time when a friend of mine mentioned that I could be painting professionally. Since then I have had some shows and worked at the Park Hyatt. I took a break from painting when I got pregnant with my son in 2010 and now that he is old enough I am painting full time.

Tell us a little about your paintings. We noticed a lot of your paintings are of the TTC. Why is that?

This particular collection is of Toronto’s streetcars however I have painted landscapes and portraits in the past. I am particularly drawn to city life and what I see everyday. The history, movement and the life in this city is what I focus on for inspiration. My favourite time of day to go out and take photos is just when the sun is setting. It’s at that point where there is a great contrast between light and shadow and makes for great images. My paintings have a very strong emphasis on colour, light and reflection. I want my paintings to convey a strong sense of vibrancy using exaggerated/contrasting colours.

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Similar to writers getting writer’s block, do you ever find yourself not feeling very creative?

I used to have creative blocks, but I haven’t had one as of late. After taking 3 years off to raise my son I feel like I am bursting to be creative all of the time.

Are you familiar with Hillcrest Village? What do you love most about it?

Our family moved into the Davenport/Ossington neighbourhood in 2012 so we’ve spent some time getting to know Hillcrest Village. I love the sense of community in Hillcrest Village, and in the short time we have lived in the area I’ve seen some great changes. I especially love Wychwood Barns for the art, the gardens, the playgrounds and dog park. It’s a highlight of the neighbourhood as well as the market.

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And finally, please give us any details and information about your upcoming show!

Transit Through Toronto is the title of my upcoming exhibition, this Saturday, March 28th at  the Peter MacKendrick Gallery at Wychwood Barns. The gallery opens at 10 AM, but the official time of the reception begins at 3 PM and goes until 10 PM. I’m also at the gallery from 10 AM to 5 PM on Sunday, March 29th for those who can’t make it on Saturday.

This collection is focused primarily on Toronto Streetcars from the 1960’s to the present. When I had first began painting I had done a few streetcars and then an obsession with them began!  Although I do plan on doing a series on the bridges/restaurants/alleyways of the city I find that I will always be drawn to streetcars. They are a Toronto icon and just looking at pictures of them feels like home to me.

Check out Amy’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter.

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