When students enter the Learning Commons room at UPEI’s Robertson Library, they’re immediately transported into a loftier place.
The usual drab pillars have morphed into magical works of art, thanks to the efforts of P.E.I. artist Warren Reeson.
“I wanted to create a few things that you normally wouldn’t find in a library. I also wanted to give it a museum feel,” says the figurative painter, who recently completed the 10-month project after winning the 2011 Robertson Library Art Competition.
Entitled Souvenirs (Tempus Fugit), or Time Flies, the mural consists of 28 painted panels on nine pillars, throughout the room.
“Each one has its own personality and can be viewed separately. They are also designed to function as part of a greater whole, group or scheme,” says Reeson, pointing to the different images.
Grandfather Clock shows a realistic-looking timepiece, with a pendulum and movement on either side of the pillar.
The Mummy depicts an ancient Egyptian mummy, a coffin lid and a hieroglyphic panel.
Celestial Pillar shows the sun, moon, stars and astronomy, while Masks celebrates facades from around the world.
And everywhere the pieces are riddled with irony.
Rusty Rebar depicts a damaged pillar while Maintenance shows a realistic looking ladder, paint tin and wall hanging.
“I finished the (latter) one very early on in the process. As a result, people thought I had left a ladder in the corner. So after completing the project, I received many calls about it,” he says with a laugh.
Reeson is not surprised by that reaction. Actually, he expects it. That’s because he uses Trompe l’Oeil, a style of painting that gives the illusion of photographic reality.
“Translated it means ‘fool the eye.’ That’s why people were convinced that I had left my ladder behind. From a distance, that’s exactly what it looks like,” says Reeson, a Charlottetown resident.
His work is also receiving positive reaction at the university.
Suzanne Jones says it’s making a huge difference to students in the library.
“Instead of being surrounded by dull, concrete walls, they get to see and appreciate the creativity and energy of art. And since art often inspires us to greater things, what could be better for a university environment?” says Jones, outreach and communications librarian.
Students are also gaining an appreciation for the creative process.
“With Warren Christopher Reeson’s work, there has been an additional yet unexpected bonus. Because his art has evolved and been completed on-site, the students and staff in the library have come to appreciate not only Warren’s talent but the sheer hard work that goes into the creation of art. . . . I think that this is very important,” says Jones.
It’s not the first time that Reeson has been recognized for his creativity.
As the winner of the 2009 Robertson Library Art Competition, Reeson completed Innovations (Passages in Time) in 2010.
This competition, which have been running since 2007, has a two-part focus: to improve the aesthetics in the library and create an interesting environment for the users and additionally to support and encourage local artists.
“These competitions have made all of us very aware of the high quality of artists we have on this Island,” says Jones.
Reeson’s recent mural projects include the library of Prince Street School and the lobby of Southern Kings Consolidated School.
He is just finishing a project he started earlier in the year for Sport P.E.I. — a mural for their foyer. He is working on it in panels at home.
“I’m also lining up things for next year. . . . I’m always looking for my next wall.”
AT A GLANCE
Warren Reeson fast facts
Specialty: Representational/figurative painter.
Creative process: Works from his imagination.
Schools: Studied art and design at the Green Lane School of Art (Derby, England) and painting at the Royal Academy Schools, London.
Kudos: Reeson’s paintings have been exhibited at the Royal Academy several times. He was the winner of the Winsor and Newton
Prize for painting at the Academy’s 1986 Premiums Exhibitions.
Contact information: Reeson may be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org and Facebook.