Glenn ElliottIn my early work I did a series of oversized fiberglass clothes - jeans, biker jackets, cowboy boots – that were influenced by the pop art movement from the 60's. These were followed first by paintings of muscle cars, motorcycles, and pool halls and then by rearview mirrors that used photomontage with dangling dice, roses, and skeletons. My current series of 3D tattoo and religious pieces explores themes of mortality, violence, and redemption.

Rust Transfer Stamp 

Fifteen years ago I was struck by some round rust stains on the loading dock of the Public Utilities Building in Stratford, Ontario, where I live. If the oil drums could make stains on cement I wondered if the same thing would work on canvass. Thus began a series of rust transfer paintings using various found and fabricated objects. I was able to get iron oxide colors, green copper oxide, and purple blacks, the last from walnut shells that fell on the canvass.

House of Cards

The first House of Cards I built were plastic transfers on mild steel.  The flimsy  structure can be a metaphor for everything from a ponzi scheme to politics.  Where I worked for so many years is like an inverted House of Cards with an excess of administration and not enough workers.    I eventually discovered Husky Farm laser cutting and used them to cut all the leaves for Forbidden Fruit and the House Of Cards.  Manser Plating in Wellesley did the zinc plating.  What attracted me to this project was the precision  of the cut-outs on the face cards whose designs are timeless, and whose meanings and interpretations can be traced back through history. 

Clocks

Having become comfortable with welding through my work in the props department of the Stratford Shakespearean Festival, I began to explore the possibilities of building a clock out of bicycle gears. I was interested in the mechanisms of clocks and how they worked but was not concerned with whether or not they told time, I recognized that they would have to be made in a machine shop because of the need for precision. After several false starts, I eventually found Mac Ballentyne in Baden, Ontario. His wife was a graduate of the Ontario College of Art, and Mac sailed and was an amateur musician. I had found someone who not only understood what I was trying to do but was able to build the clocks to my specifications. The first clock uses a verge and foliot escapement, the second an anchor escapement, and the third uses a gravity escapement. The escapement is the mechanism that rocks back and forth catching and releasing the pins on the escape wheel controlling the falling of the counterweight. 

Religious Pieces

Growing up in the rural southern United States as the gay son of a preacher (Disciples of Christ). I was expected (required?) to go to church three times a week. Every two years or so my family would have to move because of disagreements my father would have with his various church boards. Disciples have a congregational form of government. Each congregation is autonomous. The sense of parody, satire, and disillusionment seen in my religious pieces has its roots in that background. Most of the pieces come form the Catholic tradition, but the communion cups in the Double Bubble Reliquary definitely come from my roots as we took communion every Sunday. I got the idea for the water wheel when visiting friends in France. The grandfather of the friends with whom I stayed was a miller, and a decaying water wheel can still be found on the property. For me it makes reference to the living water parable in Luke and the theme of enlightenment (though I have no idea what the cell phone IPod generation will make of it).

3D Tattoo Pieces

In Latin American culture several of the religious images - Crown of Thorns, Sacred Heart, and the Ecce Homo, to cite just three - are also used as tattoo imagery. A friend suggested I research Sailor Jerry, a tattoo artist working out of Honolulu in the 30s and 40s who originated several of the classic tattoo designs associated with sailors - the ribbon and the two hearts, broken heart, pin up with girl friend's name on ribbon, sinking ship, flags, and crossed swords. The skull image and the dagger and rose image are much earlier and archetypal. The spider is also an archetypal image, in this case a matriarchal image. I well remember seeing the kinetic spiders of Jean Tinguely in Houston in the 60s. At present, I am having fun building the web in many different ways. This work continues to evolve.