Sara Hartland-Rowe

Sara Hartland-Rowe is a Canadian painter and installation artist known for her large-scale works, including an enamel-painted sheet metal mural located at the Dartmouth Bridge Bus Terminal in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Sara Hartland-Rowe attended NSCAD (BFA 1990) before moving to Chicago for post-graduate work (MFA, UIC Chicago, 1993). She returned to Halifax in 2000.

Her studio activity is engaged with the perceptual instance that happens between the states of blindness and knowing, specifically the flash of perception that occurs before naming begins, yet after one recognises forms within space. In this moment, discrete objects and three-dimensional space can be seen as a single totality, while the materiality and embodied nature of the world is maintained. To remain in this moment of perception is an effortful process of resisting the shortcuts of ‘everyday’ vision, but one that allows for the known world to be experienced as a brief vision of wholeness.

Hartland-Rowe has exhibited across Canada, the US, South America, and Europe. Significant solo and two-person exhibitions include Small World (Museum for Textiles, 1998), Days Are Where We Live (Museum London, 2000), The World in the Evening (Dalhousie University Art Gallery, 2002), The Prince (Durham Art Gallery, 2003), all things good and pure (Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 2004, and Look to the Living (MSVU Art Gallery, 2012). Travellers (2014), a permanent public art commission for Halifax Transit, was a finalist for the Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia’s Masterworks Award, 2015. Hartland-Rowe has received funding from national and provincial arts councils; her work is in private and public collections.

Biography Courtesy of Sara Hartland-Rowe

I am a painter working with site-based installation, public-art commissions and painting in works that describe human activity within the context of a beautiful, unknowable universe.

There is a foundation of drawing in my work that is about specifics of observation. I am interested in what anthropologist Marcel Mauss calls ‘the techniques of the body’, the unconscious, learned movements that mark people’s sense of gender, culture and identity. I attend to the way human beings communicate with one another through minute shifts of gesture and expression, often without knowing they are doing so. I use these little narratives as building-blocks within imaginary, often playful worlds in which tiny, hapless figures must address an engulfing universe (What are days for? 2000, Last Judgement, 2003, New York Drawing, 2009, Sparrow in Midwinter, 2015; All colours come from the sun, 2015; Sparrow 2, 2016, all large-scale site-based wall-paintings).

As well, I am absorbed with colour, specifically with looking at the spaces in between objects where form is indefinitive but colour becomes, as Michael Taussig describes it, ‘a polymorphous magical substance’. In my most recent work I am looking for the fulcrum point between the flash of perception that occurs before naming begins, and the moment just afterwards when one recognises form. To do so is an effortful process of resisting the shortcuts of ‘everyday’ vision.

Both modes of working are concerned with the relationship between things and perceptions of the world, and the possibility of seeing-before-language that undoes familiar codes of meaning. Through this process, I feel I draw closer to the questions that have concerned me from the beginning: what can the things around us tell us who we are, and can this help to understand why we are here?

Artist’s Statement Courtesy of Sara Hartland-Rowe

Sara Hartland-Rowe, Bridge Terminal Art
Video: Halifax Regional Municipality


Sara Hartland-Rowe, Halifax Bridge Terminal Art Installation Time Lapse
Video: Halifax Regional Municipality

CV Courtesy of Sara Hartland-Rowe

Biography Profile Photo: Marilyn Smulders
Courtesy of the Sara Hartland-Rowe


McIntosh Gallery, Red Doors (Thumbnail)Click here for information about works by Sara Hartland-Rowe
in McIntosh Gallery’s collection.

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Curriculum Vitae