Mary Anne Barkhouse


Mary Anne Barkhouse

“They stand against us because we stand in their way. We’re not deceived by their pretences to piety. We have seen their kind before. They’re the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends in history’s unmarked grave of discarded lies.” George W. Bush

“More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.” Woody Allen

While I come from a family of traditional northwest coast carvers, I have always worked within a contemporary sculpture/installation style. The commonality that I find with my relatives’ work is that, regardless of the diverse materials that we use, we all depict narratives of our environment taken from personal and social histories. My materials, for example bronze, silk, velvet and gold, are chosen for their historic association with value. Previous installations – such as the chapel setting of wake, petition with the beaver patiently waiting on the Victorian hall chair or Night Beaver’s revisitation of 1970’s disco glam – deliberately draw upon familiar domestic situations to generate a directed response from the viewer on their relationship to history and the environment. Referencing the cyclical nature of conflict, focus investigates the human impulses surrounding the rules of engagement. Birds associated with the spoils of battle sit atop trophies while the surrounding hearth scene (‘focus’ is Latin for ‘hearth’) depicts the omnipresence of the natural world. Challenging ideas of sanctuary are ghostly clear castings of naturally shed deer antlers mounted above the mantle with a sooty looking wolf waiting by the fire. The text engraved on these trophies is from the above-noted statement that George Bush included in his address to Congress on September 19, 2001. In this Bush verbally constructs the timeless dichotomy of us = good, other = evil as a motivational instrument to create support for war. Installations created for the Boreal Baroque exhibition feature indigenous wildlife situated amongst 18th Century furnishings. By combining the wild with the wildly opulent I am striving to promote thought on issues of sovereignty and survival in our northern environment. As I watch the daily drama that unfolds in the wetland at the back of my house I continually marvel at the tenacity and adaptive abilities of the resident flora and fauna. I reflect on the evolution that has crafted them over millions of years to fill the niches that they occupy and wonder how, or if, we still fit into the greater ecological picture. Mary Anne November, 2007

Mary Anne Barkhouse

Night beaver, detail

Mary Anne Barkhouse was born in 1961 in Vancouver, BC. She belongs to the Nimpkish band, Kwakiutl First Nation and is a descendant of a long line of internationally recognized artists that includes Ellen Neel, Mungo Martin and Charlie James. She graduated with Honours from the Ontario College of Art in Toronto and has exhibited and lectured widely across Canada. Working with a variety of media Barkhouse examines environmental concerns and indigenous culture through the use of animal imagery. A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Barkhouse’s work can be found in the collections of the Art Bank of the Canada Council for the Arts, UBC Museum of Anthropology, Archives of Ontario, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Banff Centre for the Arts and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs. In addition Mary Anne Barkhouse has public art installations at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Ontario, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre in Guelph, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, University of Western Ontario in London, McMichael Canadian Art Collection and the Millennium Walkway in Peterborough, Ontario.


Selected Exhibitions

  • 2007 Boreal Baroque (touring) Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, ON Terra Incognita McDonald Stewart Art Gallery, Guelph, ON
  • 2006 Tame McLaren Art Centre, Barrie, ON Nature in the Garage City of Toronto, Gallery 1313, liveArts,MOCCA In the Palace of the Crystal Frog (solo) Uncommon Objects , Harbourfront, Toronto, ON
  • 2005 In Service McDonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, ON Bedknobs and Broomsticks Zsa Zsa Gallery, Toronto, ON the beast not found in verse McMaster Museum of Art, Hamilton, ON Toronto Alternative Art Fair International Gladstone Hotel, sponsored by MOCCA
  • 2004 Dezhan ejan: Aboriginal Works from the Collection of the Canada Council Art Bank Canadian Embassy, Washington, DC Dreaming Earth and Sky Odd Gallery, Dawson City, YK Friend of Beavers, Foe of Evil (solo) Gallery 101, Ottawa, ON
  • 2003 The Political is Personal Lieutenant Governor’s Suite, Toronto, ON Sanctuary Art Gallery of Peterborough, Peterborough,ON Good Medicine, Torontoiensis Collective University of Waterloo Art Gallery, Waterloo, ON
  • 2002 The Best Kept Secret Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal, QC Born: Vancouver, British Columbia 1961 Ontario College of Art, New Media, Honours Graduate 1991 Artist-in-Residence Harbourfront Centre, Toronto 1992-94 Banff Centre for the Arts 2007
  • 2001 Transitions 2:Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art of Canada Gallery 418, Montreal QC Yukon Arts Centre, Whitehorse, Yukon
  • 2000 Beaver Tales Oakville Art Galleries, Oakville, ON Some Like It Shot (solo show) AKA Artist Run Centre, Saskatoon, SK Raven’s Reprise UBC Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, BC
  • 1999 pelage (solo exhibition) Indian Art Centre, Hull, QC Emergence from the Shadows Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, QC small brown animals artspace, Peterborough, ON Wolves in the City Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, AB
  • 1998 lichen Toronto Sculpture Garden, Toronto, ON Cu YYZ Gallery, Toronto, ON
  • 1997 LICK Lick Collective, Toronto, ON Staking Land Claims Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff, AB; Thunder Bay Art Gallery; Woodland Cultural Centre, Brantford, ON
  • 1995 Alternative:Contemporary Photo Compositions McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, ON Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa,ON
  • 1993 Multiplicity: A New Cultural Strategy UBC Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, BC

Public Art Commissions

  • Wolves Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario, 2000
  • Esker Kawartha Rotary Sculpture Project, Peterborough, Ontario, 2001
  • Beaver Rock/Digital Stream University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, 2004
  • Colony Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, ON, 2007
  • Grace Robert McLaughlin Gallery Oshawa, ON, 2007


  • Canada Council, Aboriginal Collaboration Grant 2000, 2001
  • Ontario Arts Council, Aboriginal Program, Project Grant, 2000
  • Canada Council B Grant, 1998, 2001, 2004
  • Ontario Arts Council,Visual Arts Grant 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006
  • Canada Council – Project Assistance for Artists’ Collectives Program Grant 1996
  • Ontario Arts Council Crafts Grant – 1995
  • Toronto Arts Council Visual Artist Grant – 1995,1997
  • Ontario Arts Council, Exhibition Assistance Grant 1993, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2006
  • Toronto Star Award, New Media and JaguarSculpture Competition – 1991
  • Imperial Smelting and Refining Company of Canada Metal Award 1991
  • Canadian Native Arts Foundation Scholarship – 1990


  • Faking History 1999 co-curated with Reid Diamond, Mercer Union, Toronto, ON
  • Ghostwriters 2 1996 Mercer Union, Toronto, ON


  • Canada Council for the Arts, Art Bank
  • UBC, Museum of Anthropology
  • Art Gallery of Peterborough
  • Indian Art Collection, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada
  • Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff Centre for the Arts
  • McMichael Canadian Art Collection
  • Thunder Bay Art Gallery
  • numerous private collections including HRH Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Japan


  • Tame, curated by Lise Hosein, 2006, MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, ON
  • Sanctuary, curated by IIli-Maria Tamplin, 2004, Peterborough Art Gallery, Peterborough, ON
  • First Nations Artists in Canada, A Biographical/Bibliographical Guide 1960 – 1999, 2001, Joan Reid Acland, the Gail and Stephen A.
  • Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art, Concordia U., Montreal, QC
  • The Best Kept Secret in Montreal curated by Ilga Leimanis, 2002, Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montreal, QC
  • Transitions 2: Contemporary Indian and Inuit Art of Canada,curated by Barry Pottle and Ryan Rice, 2001,Indian Affairs & Northern Development, Ottawa, ON
  • Beaver Tales, curated by Reid Diamond and Marnie Fleming, 2000, Oakville Galleries, Oakville, ON
  • staking LAND claims, edited by Patricia Deadman and Paul Seesaquasis, 1999 Banff Centre Press, Banff, AB
  • Ghostwriter, artists and authors of Ghostwriters exhibition series, Mercer Union, 1998, Toronto, ON
  • Ornament and Object: Canadian Jewellery and Metal Art 1946 – 1996 Anne Barros, 1997, The Boston Mills Press, Toronto,ON
  • Grand Street 61 All-American, photoillustration for The Republic of Tricksterism by Paul Seesequasis, 1997, Grand Street Press, New York, New York, USA
  • Everywoman’s Almanac 92, 93, 94, 95, 98 Women’s Press, Toronto, ON
  • Matriart, Vol. 2/No.1 1991, Vol.3/No.2 1992 Women’s Art Resource Centre, Toronto, ON
  • Ma MacDonald, Joanne Arnott Author Mary Anne Barkhouse illustrator, children’s literature, 1993, Women’s Press, Toronto, ON
  • Brotherhood to Nationhood: George Manuel and the Making of the Modern Indian Movement,Peter Fraser Author, Mary Anne
  • Barkhouse cover design and illustration, 1993 Between the Lines, Toronto, ON