“I want people to reflect on their experiences with this music, the albums that I honor in my exhibition. I think the wear and tear that I painted on each painting elevates the album in a different way ‘
“Rooted” is about the people and places that make us proud to call our community home.
Holly Farrell has spent the past two years planning, painting and perfecting her new exhibit titled “The Album Project”, a collection of paintings from old vinyl album covers.
From Pink Floyd’s Animals to Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland to Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Farrell has beautifully picked up not only the artists’ varied artistic variations but also the wear and tear of a vinyl album cover. .
“My search for ‘things’ to paint always brings me to antique barns, malls, stores, the odd discarded object. I connect with things, I look at them – I look at the wear and tear, the cracks, the faded colors by the sun and I think about the life and the life that these things had to finally end up in my studio ”, explains Farrell.
“I’ve always been drawn to vintage albums – some immaculate and cherished by the owners, who like my husband had all of their music curated by the ‘I don’t know what system’, because sometimes the packaging takes precedence. , sometimes in alphabetical order, sometimes what? I can’t figure it out. I’m not the “new in the box” type. I like to leave traces of myself for future owners. So I have some old albums with Holly Farrell written on them. I have new books that I make a point of scratching the pages I stop at, a silent ‘Holly stopped here’. So I love the wear on the album covers. They involve a story of moving, listening, flipping the cover back and forth, back to front while listening. I loved looking at the covers. I loved laying down on the shag rug at our home in Powassan, Ontario and continuing to pull the needle back and forth to play a favorite song over and over again.
North Bay-born Farrell, 60, says living room dancing was a regular thing growing up.
“Home from school for lunch, all by myself, I was dancing. It was in the 70s and having six siblings and a music loving mom, I danced to music from the 40s until the 70s. I am one of those people who reduced their collection of vinyls when CDs came out, but in recent years I have collected vinyls again. I needed to express all of this in paintings.
She says when people browse her exhibit, she hopes to rekindle that nostalgia for the days when vinyl was the only place to hear this song on repeat.
“I want people to reflect on their experiences with this music, the albums that I honor in my exhibition. I think the wear and tear I painted on each painting elevates the album in a different way – to something more tangible for each person who stands in front of whoever they connect with. It becomes theirs, they only see it with reference to their own past.
Farrell says that to put on this show, she needed permission from the artists.
“If I had known how difficult it would have been to get clearances, I wonder if I would have continued,” she says.
“The response to my first ‘record’ paintings was encouraging, but almost always the discussion revolved around whether or not I needed permission to make these paintings. I see the work as in line with my Still Life, combined with the “idea” of Portraiture, so it wasn’t something I had envisioned. So I decided, in 2019, that I needed to be able to answer that question – put it aside – so people could focus on what was really important: the painting, the music, the connection with it. I decided that I would only paint records for which I had received approvals. This is how “The Album Project” began.
Farrell says that after hundreds of emails and phone calls with people around the world, she was able to connect with musicians, executives, labels, lawyers, estates, cover artists and more to bring all the work together.
“I was quietly persistent and sincere in my quest – for a pleasant conversation with the manager of Pink Floyd (while I was huddled in my parents’ car outside a Tim Hortons!) Process. permission request for Bat Out Of Hell when he died), to get approval from Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Eagles, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Carole King, and more.
And getting clearance was only part of the overall process.
Farrell says finding albums to recreate was another step, as well as “my husband was cutting and prepping my boards, painting, framing. An exhibition of 16 to 20 paintings would take me a year, ”explains Farrell.
“Covid has kept me inside and focused for the past two years. I was also trying to cope with my mom’s cancer diagnosis – she died in October 2020. The paint got me through it all, it gave me a purpose when COVID-19 and my mom’s cancer put me on the verge of falling apart. My mom would have loved this show, she loved music, she loved painting. Painting was the last something we did together, a few days before she left us.
Farrell says it wasn’t the particular painting that she was encouraged to do as a child, but rather, the emphasis was on creativity.
“I loved doing whatever activity I could think of. I was absolutely focused when it came to coloring, or following Mr. Dressup’s craft of making sock puppets, ”says Farrell.
“I didn’t really think I was good at what I did, I just liked to do it. I have found every project rewarding.
She says she was also encouraged and inspired throughout school.
“I must say that my art teachers in public and secondary education inspired me. Mrs. Lubitz, Mr. Buchan, Mr. Camani, Mrs. Warren, seemed to engage me absolutely. This is what they taught me in those grades 7 to 12 classes that I tried to draw on 15 to 20 years later. I think school gives you tools, but experience is real education.
Farrell didn’t follow that passion in postsecondary, however, and says she wanted to settle down with someone and raise a family, but that didn’t end up happening.
“I went to college and got my certificate to work as a counselor with children with special needs. After college, I worked in various jobs unrelated to my education, before meeting the man I was going to spend my life with, ”she says.
“We moved to Toronto where I started working as a counselor in a group home. While working with children with special developmental and psychological needs, I “de-stress” by drawing. Also during this time my mom and I would paint together, joinery – paint over anything that wasn’t nailed down. My time with her, which was really wonderful, was always creative. She too has always found ways to bring art into her life. We both loved to paint. At the end of each weekend I was heading back to Toronto and felt a bit lost – no woodworking room, a tiny apartment – in short, my husband suggested I try the canvas. . My job was really stressful at the time, so he supported my decision to quit my job and focus on my art.
Farrell says she joined her husband in his house painting business and worked together for a few years, but she also started selling his paintings.
“As my paintings started selling we took on fewer jobs and he eventually quit his job to help manage mine,” says Farrell.
Farrell says that’s why she encourages people to make art only if it’s something they really like.
“If my paintings stopped selling, I would paint again. Make art because you love it. If I only thought about selling, I would have failed time and time again, ”she says.
“I was 30 before I sold anything, and it was to my family, and I was 31 before I sold anything to a foreigner. I think because I wasn’t expecting anything, every good that came from making art was particularly satisfying.
Farrell says she has shown her art in gyms, parks, restaurants and even in her own living room.
“I was just happy to show it. I did very little for a long time.
But it is the advent of the Internet that Farrell attributes to his greatest success.
“My success was built locally. Once online it was still mostly Toronto supporting my work, but slowly, very slowly, I made my way south to the United States (online), then a little further – the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia. I slowly gave up on self-representation and started sending my work to galleries.
And now her latest work can be seen both online at www.hollyfarrell.com and through October 16 at the Mira Godard Gallery in Toronto (www.godardgallery.com).
Farrell has made over 30 different plays and says, for herself, that there is no favorite.
“I don’t have a favorite, because when I look at a painting, I see all the favorite parts, all the difficult parts, all the easy parts, I find myself again involved in the painting. But this leads to the idea of ”the challenge”. Who’s Next and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road were the biggest challenges. I felt more internal pressure for Elton John, as I was in regular contact with Ian Beck, the artist on the original cover. I really wanted her approval so I couldn’t wait to show her the finished painting, ”she says.
Farrell adds that she only has one technique for painting and says it’s something “that I don’t stray from. I paint in acrylics and oils, many layers, many glazes, to try and make him look like his watercolor, pencil, acrylic and whatever else he used to create his amazing original.
Farrell continues, “Who’s next was a challenge just in the details – my actual copy of the disc is sun-discolored and worn down to the cardboard bone in some areas. Painting the slag they are standing on has caught on. a lot of time, more than anything I have ever painted. I kept going until I was satisfied with it, about a week before delivery to the gallery. When I look at it, I am completely satisfied , because it was so difficult to paint!
Farrell says that some of the original album art designers and some of the artists themselves reviewed “The Album Project”.
“I received encouragement from some of the original designers and cover artists of the records. I was a little nervous about sending pictures of the finished paintings to these people, but luckily they love what I did! I think painting throughout the history of the wear and tear of each album is an honor, a tribute to the longevity of this music and the art that comes on the sleeves. I received best wishes for the show from some of the management, ”says Farrell.
For more on the individual paintings, you can check out Farrell’s personal Instagram page.
If you have a story idea for the “Rooted” feature film series, email Matt at [email protected]