Ben Darrah

Home: Kingston, Ontario
Title: Owen in red jacket
Media: Acrylic on fabric / acrylique sur tissue
Dimensions: 61 x 61 cm

Owen in Red Jacket – This is a portrait of Owen Darrah – a ten year old boy and my son – wearing his down-filled jacket and camouflage hat. Besides an attempt to capture Owen at a particular moment in his life, this painting is also an attempt to document some of the cultural tendencies and events that are ever present in his life. These cultural tendencies include a somewhat paradoxical relationship with the environment – the actual Canadian landscape and the media driven construct of nature, a symptom of which is manifest in the move of camouflage to replace plaid as the ubiquitous fabric pattern (and the stenciled image of a mountain scene in the background). Even the combination of a rendered portrait on an abstract ground so that they are both integrated and disjointed speaks to this paradoxical relationship.

While I initially approached using camouflage to speak about the disconnect between nature and how it is represented in media (the main focus of most of my work) I can not avoid the fact that Owen is growing up during a time that Canada is at war and that camouflage has a military significance. Something that frightens me much more than it does him.

Like many ten year-olds, Owen is equally comfortable back country camping and downloading software onto the computer. Owen in Red Jacket shows a ten-year old who is growing up with feet firmly planted in both the natural and media saturated world.


1995 Master of Fine Arts Degree, Specializing in painting, University of Windsor – Windsor, Ontario
1987 Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, Specializing in sculpture, University of Alberta – Edmonton, Alberta


2008 “Camp” ~ Scheduled for August, Rails End Gallery & Arts Centre, Haliburton, Ontario
2006 “Sense of Place” ~ Gallery at 129 Ossington, Toronto, Ontario
2005 “Threshold” ~ Verb Gallery, Kingston, Ontario
2005 “Panel: Cabinet of Secret Desires” ~ Sarah Beveridge Contemporary Art, Barrie, Ontario
2004 “The Space Between” ~ The Swamp Ward Window Project, Kingston, Ontario
2004 “Present” ~ The Upstairs Gallery, Kingston, Ontario
2002 “PLACE” ~ Verb Gallery, Kingston, Ontario
1997 “Vicinity” ~ James Allen Fine Art, Toronto, Ontario
1996 “Thinking of Clouds” ~ Alternative Grounds, Toronto, Ontario
1995 “At Play” ~ Common Ground Gallery, Windsor, Ontario


2007 “Post Camp” ~ scheduled for May 2007 Ben Darrah and Shelly Bahl, Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, Kingston, ON
2007 “20 x 20” ~ March 2007 – Galerie Sandra Goldie, Montreal, Quebec
2006 “Toque Baroque” Ben Darrah and Paul Walde – McLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario
2006 “Toque Baroque” Ben Darrah and Paul Walde – W.K.P. Kennedy Gallery, North Bay, ON
2005 “The Seventh Regional Juried Exhibition”, Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, Kingston, Ontario – Juror – Andy Fabo
2005 “Making Marks” ~ April 2005 – Sarah Beveridge Contemporary Art, Barrie, Ontario
2004 “The Sixth Regional Juried Exhibition”, Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre, Kingston, Ontario – Juror – Lois Andison
2003 “Kingston Insights Project” Kingston Arts Council Community Arts Project, Agnes Etherington Arts Centre, Kingston, Ontario
2001 “December Group Show: Works on Paper” – Fran Hill Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
1997 “Hinterland” (an exhibition on shared cultural identity curated by Ben Darrah), Artcite Inc., Windsor, Ontario
1995 “Ten” – Edward Day Gallery, Kingston, Ontario
1994 “Site/Unseen” – Gallery B312, Montreal, Quebec
1994 “Southwest Biennial” – Art Gallery of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario guest juror: Jessica Bradley