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Aidan Searle selected as regional winner in BMO 1st Art! competition

Aidan Searle poses with his artwork at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto, where he and 12 other young Canadians earned a spot as part of the 15th annual BMO 1st Art! competition. SUBMITTED PHOTO
Aidan Searle poses with his artwork at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto, where he and 12 other young Canadians earned a spot as part of the 15th annual BMO 1st Art! competition. SUBMITTED PHOTO

BY JASON DALEY

A Holland College graduate is the P.E.I. regional winner in a national art contest.

Aiden Searle, who graduated in 2017 from the graphic design program, says his instructor encouraged him to enter his digital print, titled, A Year in Review, to the 15th annual BMO 1st Art! competition. With the contest win, he was awarded $7,500.

Searle had actually intended to construct another kind of artwork for the contest. What turned out to be his winning submission was really a side-project he had going.

 “I probably would have lost if I had submitted the piece that I wanted to do originally,” Searle said, with a laugh.

The piece was born out of Searle experimenting with new techniques and approaches in style that were somewhat foreign to him at the time.

“I usually work in a more illustrative or expressionist hand drawn style. This is more of a graphical, flat, geometrical approach that I don’t really do that often, which is cool because I’m kind of doing a lot more of it now. It got me started on a different path.”

The 27 year-old Saskatoon, Sask. native put nearly 30 hours of work into the piece.

The artwork is an anatomical-like depiction of a profiled-stance view of himself and his organs. Viewers of the piece are offered an introspective look at Searle’s life during a year of his student life. Searle describes it as a metaphorical representation.

“It represents certain things I went through. The good things, the bad things, throughout the year, encapsulated in a bit of an infographic.”

Searles instructor, April Condon, says part of its appeal is the intricacy of the design.

“It’s very detailed. It’s one of those things that has a bit of a reveal to it, said Condon. When you look at it at a distance, you see that overall image. But once you get up into the fine details, there’s more and more little fun discoveries along the way.

The BMO 1st Art! competition celebrates the creativity of art school students from more than 100 post-secondary institutions across Canada. The 12 regional winners were selected from 303 entries submitted from communities across Canada. Searle is in Toronto with the other winners, where the work is on display at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at the University of Toronto from Nov. 16 – Dec. 18.

It was a career goal of Searle to have his artwork displayed in a major gallery, a personal accomplishment that has come a lot more quickly in his life than expected.

“I thought it was going to be 20 or 30 years from now,” he joked.

Searle hopes his success with gallery displays can continue.

“It’s nice to share the hard work you put in to stuff. Not in terms of fame or fortune. It’s just nice to see yourself being appreciated, and sharing it with people is nice.”

Searle is currently employed in the graphic design field in Charlottetown and maintains a love for living and working in P.E.I.

“I’m hoping to stay indefinitely. I’d like to stay forever if I could.”

Searle’s winning artwork, along with the other regional winners can also be viewed online at 1start.bmo.com/2017-winners.html.

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