mary porter


Summer Review

The famous pink Ojai sunset
The famous pink Ojai sunset

It’s been a quiet few months on my blog, but things have been busy this summer. Between exhibitions in Vancouver and Edmonton, there have been travels as well as dressmaking and a wedding! I’ve just recently started a new painting in the studio, and with the sudden change in weather here in Vancouver, I’m reminded of that back to school feeling. So I guess you can kind of think of this blog post as my first day back to school, and here’s what I did this summer.


Now & Then – Pendulum Gallery, Vancouver

The new Pendulum Gallery set up
The new Pendulum Gallery set up

The group exhibition, Now & Then, at Pendulum Gallery was well received, with their new gallery walls and light system in place. It’s a great place to show work as I think it receives more foot traffic than many galleries I’ve shown at, and the more eyes, the better.

My wall of drawings and paintings
My wall of drawings and paintings
A different view
My Rejected Memories drawings shown in a new more sculptural configuration
My Rejected Memories drawings shown in a new more sculptural configuration

You can read more about the exhibition and gallery space in Vancouver is Awesome here.


A Conversation: With Mary Porter – Latitude 53, Edmonton

A Conversation at Latitude 53
A Conversation at Latitude 53 (Photo courtesy of Latitude 53)

For the last year and a half, Mary Porter and I have been collaborating on a project. We’ve known each other for almost 15 years now, meeting when we were both on exchange in Paris. Over those 15 years we have perhaps only lived in the same city for 12 months total. But we’ve managed to keep in touch and stay good friends, as well as collaborate on smaller projects on and off over the years. This culminated in our project, A Conversation, which we showed this summer at Latitude 53’s ProjEx Room.

A Conversation - with Mary Porter
A Conversation – with Mary Porter (Photo courtesy of Latitude 53)

Working from images found through Google Image Search, Mary and I made digital collages based on our text conversation using the first 20 images for each search. The results were convoluted but patterns emerged through common images and text. We showed the images as a video projection on opposite walls in the space, where viewers sat in the middle as we “spoke” to each other from either side of the room.

Twinned projections in the ProjEx Room
Twinned projections in the ProjEx Room (Photo courtesy of Latitude 53)
A still from A Conversation
A still from A Conversation (Photo courtesy of Latitude 53)

A Conversation will be showing in December at Truck Gallery’s Window Space in Calgary, Alberta.


A Wedding & A Honeymoon

Last but not least, my fiancé and I got married this summer. Early on in the planning stages, I saw a dress I loved but it was from a few years back and impossible to get a hold of, not to mention way out of my budget. Against my better judgment (or despite it!), I decided I was going to make my own wedding gown, even though the last time I sewed a dress was when I was 14 and in Home Ec class. I figured…how hard can it be? It was just another art project to tackle! The thing is, I wanted a simple shaped dress, which I had a hard time finding in shops, but I also wanted flowers on it. So I got down to painting with watercolours, practicing roses in a painting medium that I wasn’t used to. After many botched attempts, I finally worked it out and scanned the image and had it printed onto satin.

The watercolour roses printed onto satin
The watercolour roses printed onto satin

From there, I made a mock up dress in a cheap fabric using my own pattern that I created by looking at photos online of the original dress I liked and, no joke, Gwyneth Paltrow’s pink dress that she won her Oscar in. I think all my problem solving skills for creating art, from the planning stages to the end results, helped me a lot in trying to figure out my dress.

The skirt section half sewn
The skirt section half sewn
Awkward selfies
Awkward selfies

Working on my kitchen table at home while trying to keep the dress a secret was hard, and it also meant doing fittings and trying to see what the dress looked like on and from behind meant many awkward selfies in the mirror. In the end, after a couple of fitting hiccups, I finished the dress and even made it convertible into a shorter party dress for the reception.

Photos by Brianne Adams Photography
Photos by Brianne Adams Photography
Photo by Brianne Adams Photography
Photo by Brianne Adams Photography

The wedding couldn’t have been more perfect. And after a happily stress-free wedding, my husband and I left for a quick honeymoon in California. We spent a few days in Ojai, and all the cacti we saw inspired my new work, which has been commissioned by The New Gallery in Calgary for their fundraiser later this fall. The drawing will be made into a silkscreen print. I will post more details in upcoming months.

In the meantime, a little sneak peek:

Work in progress
Work in progress
Work in progress
Work in progress

Fridays & Friends #1 – Mary Porter

There are many things that start with the letter F. A few of my favourites are feathers, fairies, fencing, fiber optics, fire, fistfights, freedom and frost…in no particular order. But near the top of that list would be Fridays and friends. In my travels over the past 10 years, for school and residencies and the like, I’ve been lucky enough to have met some amazing friends who are also artists. I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, as I have so many talented artist friends, to somehow feature their work on my blog. In an effort to post more semi-regularly too, I’m introducing Fridays & Friends – every few Fridays or so, I will feature one of my friends in a brief Q&A, to introduce their artwork to you. My first Fridays & Friends is with Mary Porter.


Mary Porter, Monumental (tapeworm), oil and acrylic on plywood, 24" x 72", 2009

Roselina Hung: How did we first meet?

Mary Porter: We met while we were both on exchange in Paris at ENSBA. You and Jessica Gabriel, who came together from Vancouver, adopted me as I knew no one and had been in the city for a couple of weeks by myself. I must have been vaguely Kaspar Hauser-esque at that point. And we learned how to make paint, snuck into fashion shows, lived in very tiny apartments, ate too many and not nearly enough delicious buttery pastries, and drank copious amounts of Beaujolais Nouveau. Despite the distance, we’ve stayed fast friends on account of our mutual love of letter writing.

Mary Porter, Flip Books, Toronto Free Gallery, 2007

RH: Tell me a bit about yourself…

MP: I’m a person that sometimes makes art and other time teaches art. I’m originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, and studied at NSCAD. After moving around a bit to Montreal and Vancouver, I relocated to Toronto to go to York University for my MFA and have been here ever since. I’m currently teaching at OCAD University and secretly working away in my studio. Also, I just got a new kitten named Jesus Murphy…who is, as I write this, chewing on my foot.

Mary Porter, "The space to be." installation shots, oil on board, wall painting, Toronto Free Gallery, 2007

RH: Tell me about your work…

MP: Ummmm…sometimes I paint and sometimes I’m a dilettante and do other stuff. I’m pretty preoccupied with spaces that people build and how they live in them and, wait.. I’m just going to copy and paste an artist statement: “The longstanding interest of my work has been an investigation of the built environment to glean some sense of the culture that created it, using humour, the absurd, and the sublime to unsettle our perception of those things that typically go overlooked.” How’s that?

Mary Porter, Jameson Avenue, digital animation, 2011

RH: What are you currently working on?

MP: I’m working on some animations. I recently made one called “Jameson Avenue” about a street near my house in Toronto’s Parkdale. I’m pretty fascinated by the street—it’s just two blocks but thousands of people live on it from all over the world. I’m also working on some drawings and honing my skills as a kitten whisperer.

Mary Porter, Experiments, oil and acrylic on paper, 48" x 44", 2010

RH: Tell me one fun fact about yourself.

MP: Really? a fun fact? this is tough. I wish I had something cool to say, like, “I play a gnarly bass guitar ” or “I was a teenage soap opera star.” Oh, wait, I got it… I was on Sesame Street once… not with the puppets though, and it was Canadian Sesame St and we visited a fish smokehouse…all of which makes it considerably less fun, but still a fact.

Thanks Mary!  To view more of Mary’s work, please visit

Mary Porter

I feel very lucky that my studies have taken me abroad to two wonderful cities, where I have met many people that I feel privileged to call friends.  For anyone who is thinking about whether or not to study abroad or take part in an exchange program, I fully recommend it.  My experiences in London and Paris are some of my most cherished, and in both cases, it was the people I met and the city itself that left their lasting impressions on me.

Chandeliers in Paris
The splendour of Paris

It’s hard to believe that it has been 10 years since my year abroad in Paris.  I traveled all the way across the world only to meet a fellow Canadian student from NSCAD in Halifax!  Mary Porter is a fellow artist and painter and one of my very good friends, and she has just create a website to showcase her artwork at

Installation of “The Space to be.” at Toronto Free Gallery, Toronto, ON, 2007
Installation of “The Space to be.” at Toronto Free Gallery,
Toronto, ON, 2007

She currently lives and works in Toronto, after receiving an MFA (Visual Arts) from York University.  She has exhibited across Canada and was also selected as an Canadian emerging artist to watch in Magenta Publishing’s Carte Blanche, Vol. 2: Painting.

Her most recent series, MONUMENTAL (2008-09), offers an intriguing perspective on landscape painting with such diverse influences such as science fiction, grand architectural schemes, nineteenth- and twentieth-century utopic plans, romantic landscape painting, and her own studies of the plants and animals in her urban setting.

Untitled (tapeworm), oil and acrylic on birch plywood, 24 in x 72  in, 2009
Untitled (tapeworm), oil and acrylic on birch plywood,
24 in x 72 in, 2009

To view more artwork by Mary Porter, please visit

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