Harry Hamm – November Featured Artist

harry potatoesBorn in East Germany, my family emigrated to Canada when I was seven, settling in Regina Saskatchewan. I developed an interest in painting along with a couple of friends just prior to and right through the High School years. We explored painters that appealed to us without an historical consideration, jumping from DaVinci to Van Gogh, Constable to Breugel, Vermeer and Giotto to Cezanne and Corot and on and on. Just three guys on their own set loose in the stacks of the Regina Public Library and excited by art. When I did start my BFA studies first in Regina then finishing at NSCAD the idea that the progression of art necessarily meant invalidating prior movements was hard to accept. Particularly since primitive, folk, and outsider art, such as the artists in the Prinzhorn Collection were all outside the main Art Historical narrative but important to me none the less.

Harry Hamm, "The Half Full Glass". Oil on board 9 ½” x 7 ½”

Harry Hamm, “The Half Full Glass”. Oil on board 9 ½” x 7 ½”

window for the wider community

I joined VANS when it was still in its slide library days. I have been the VANS board representative for our region, and have had the opportunity to participate in regional VANS group exhibitions. I live far enough out of Halifax that at times the reviews of exhibitions or profiles of the artists was an important way of keeping in touch with local artistic practice. VANS is an important resource for artists but also through Visual Arts News a good window for the wider community that has an interest in, and wants to support this activity. Besides the VANS exhibitions I have also been in exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and have been included in their permanent collection, as well as in the collection of the Nova Scotia Art Bank and private collections here in Canada and in the States and Germany.

the joy of looking intently

The work I do is based in observation, and can at times be from just the joy of looking intently at something. It is a luxury to stare, and rendering with pencil or paint is the permission. Recurring subjects are fish, flowers, fowl and a large number of potato portraits as well.  At times my work does involve my thoughts on environmental considerations. Very early botanical illustrations are a large inspiration for me, again mostly ignored in the story of art.

balance between financial work and artistic practice

As with most VANS members I have had to find the balance between financial work and artistic practice, not always successfully. All were part time jobs from washing dishes, to janitorial work, and painting houses. I have worked for the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery, and a number of years for the Provincial Art Bank. I also operated the Petpeswick Picture Gallery with a number of Group shows and Solo exhibitions out of our home. These jobs have helped with the finances but eroded the time and energy for art production. Between some of these jobs I had the privilege of being home with our two children while my wife provided the family income.

their works do bring joy to a lot of people

The work I did at the Nova Scotia Art Bank and at Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery was collection management. Recommendations for safe housing of the collections was the primary aspect of the job. Another interesting and satisfying aspect was the placing of art in non gallery venues, Government offices in Halifax and some offices from Cape Breton to Yarmouth for the Art Bank, and throughout the University at Saint Mary’s. The works were mostly well received by people who for a large part did not generally visit art galleries. Both of these collections are well represented by VANS members, and they should know their works do bring joy to a lot of people. The few times that the work wasn’t well received and we couldn’t sway that opinion by giving context or explanation of the artists possible intent, we would replace the work, since it wasn’t a gallery setting. It was always a reminder of how the power of the art could bring ease and joy to some and make others anxious.

hoping to spend more time staring at things

As a new recipient of the government pension I am hoping to spend more time staring at things, applying that to pencil or paint, and look towards exhibiting some of the results.


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One Response to Harry Hamm – November Featured Artist

  1. Happy staring Harry! Wonderful words and work! Best…Charlotte

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