Eleanor Mackey

I paint to enjoy the sensuous exploration into nonobjective painterly pictorial spaces. The flow and density of the paint; the patterning of lines, edges, shapes, forms, and colours; the processes of staining, pouring, and brushing; the opacity, the matte or glossy surface – all point to the tactile reality of the materials and the logical authenticity of the painting process. These qualities impact the senses.

Elly’s artist statement from the 2006 WKP Kennedy show

Eleanor Mackey 1968

Eleanor “Elly” Mackey passed away in September 2014 after a long life of passion and creativity. Elly was a painter all her life. At the same time she was also a wife, a mother of five children, a teacher and pursued many other creative activities. As the family moved around Ontario with her educator husband she took courses and became involved in the local art scenes. Her highly respected representational work in the 1950s led to a secondary school teaching position at O’Neill Collegiate Vocational Institute in Oshawa after her graduation from Toronto Teacher’s College in 1963. She had her first solo exhibition in Oshawa.

During this time she began exploring abstraction. When she took a three year art course at the New School of Art in Toronto in the mid 1960s her work radically changed. Influenced by some of the most innovative Toronto artists as teachers she discovered her distinctive curvilinear style and began to paint large colour field abstracts. She was involved in several exhibitions and was one of the few women to exhibit at the Isaac’s Gallery in Toronto in 1968. She was hailed in the press as the “Free-swinging, barefoot painter” a “Housewife artist” and a “trend setter.” She also had several commissions including a large painting at the new Scarborough Post Office. Over the years she took university courses and received grants to teach art in secondary schools. While living in Sudbury, she had a solo exhibition in 1979 at the Laurentian University Museum & Art Centre and lectured at Laurentian University on occasion.

Elly also pursued other creative interests such as writing, music, gardening, mathematics and cosmology. Besides her acrylic paintings, she explored other mediums such as knitting and watercolours to express her love of colour.

Elly began exhibiting her works again in 2002 with a show of watercolours, the first of four shows, at the Downstairs Gallery in Powassan close to her home in Chisholm Township. She soon had shows at Art In Public Places in the Capitol Centre, North Bay 2003, Renee’s Gallery in South River 2004, Whitewater Gallery, North Bay 2005, and the Conversations In Colour show with Sara McIntosh at the WKP Kennedy Gallery in 2006. She also developed and presented a talk/slideshow on her work called Driven To Abstraction on which this site is based. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Sudbury, the North Bay Regional Health Centre and many private collections.

She continued developing her colour field paintings and began exploring digital art on her computer. This site will display examples of her work from each of these evolving periods including books, videos, studies and research materials that illuminate her creative journey.

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