At the Street Art Show in Vanderhoof this April, Nechako Community Arts Council is featuring Michael Rees, a well-known artist in the region who uses narrative as a basis for a lot of his work.
Rees moved to Vanderhoof from Coventry, U.K.,with his family when he was 15. During his elementary school days, teachers started noticing that he had a keen eye and could visualize space well. Then during his high school years at Nechako Valley Secondary School, he also got very interested in print making.
Rees said he had a great art teacher in Jim Morris at NVSS, who also pushed him to apply for a bursary after high school in the arts field.
He won the bursary for $300 and got accepted to Sheraton in Oakville, Ontario. But for Rees, that was too far away. “It’s like moving from London to Moscow, its the same distance,” he said.
“I didn’t know what to do and then Jim said apply to Emily Carr. It was the first year when they left Vancouver and you could go study at Emily Carr from the CNC campus on weekends. It took 2 years.”
During his time at Emily Carr, he studied photography, drawing, painting and print making.
“I got super into print making because it is very graphic, black and white, simple. You can’t impress people with colour and have to draw, draw, draw.”
Rees ended up joining the print making department at Emily Carr where he started off with screen printing, which is also what he majored in.
He got a print making job post university, but something wasn’t sitting well and he didn’t feel like committing to the job for the rest of his life. He left the job, travelled around the world, went back to the U.K. and got a job in Holland. Here, he rediscovered his passion for art and flew back to Canada and got painting right-away.
His work evokes a sense of mystery and pulls you in, in a way that a good narrative does.
“It’s a story happening.”
“When people go into a gallery, its estimated they spend an average of seven minutes at one piece. So for me, I think how can I keep them for longer.” As a painter, he said his job is to make viewers stop, look and ponder.
There are several pieces of his work up for residents to have a look at the windows of the arts room of YMCA- Integris Community Centre building. Rees also has some of his work displayed at the Vanderhoof Public Library.
To see his work or to inquire about paintings you can reach Michael Rees on Instagram @michaeldavidrees or on Facebook @MichaelRees.