London artist creates hyper-realistic landscapes with a pencil, a ruler...and a lot of patience

The work of London artist Kelly Wallace is the subject of "Beside Myself" - an exhibition of Wallace's painstakingly rendered line drawings at the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia.

Each of Kelly Wallace's surreal renderings typically take 200 to 300 hours to create.

"Freehold" 2015, lead paper on panel 34" x 55" by London artist Kelly Wallace. His hyper-realistic and surreal renderings require 200 to 300 hours to create. (Georgia Scherman Projects)

They are images that have to be seen to be believed.

With little more than vintage lead pencils and a ruler, London artist Kelly Wallace creates line drawings that are both incredibly realistic and totally surreal.

Wallace's work is the subject of Beside Myself, a new exhibit at the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery (JNAAG) in Sarnia.

In an interview with CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive, Wallace says the dream-like quality of his work is inspired by the temporal, impermanent nature of the earth - referencing an ocean's waves, wind damage and hurricanes as major influences.

"Beauty is terminal. Maybe the most important part of a beautiful sunset or a beautiful landscape or a beautiful person...it's super-beautiful because it's terminal." 

"Aboutlessness" 2015, lead on paper 39" x 65". Wallace's work is on display at the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery until May 6. (Georgia Scherman Projects)

'200 to 300 hours'

Wallace's renderings are created with little more than vintage lead pencils and a ruler, but each creation requires plenty of time and patience.

Wallace spends '200 to 300 hours' to create each rendering, or 'three to five thousand kilometres travelled in lead'. 

Still, Wallace describes his art as quick work.

"It looks like slow work, but I move very quickly. It's very physical."

The JNAAG's exhibition on Wallace's work pays tribute to Wallace's commitment to his craft. It includes an audio installation of the scribbling sound of lead on paper, as well as film footage of Wallace creating the drawings.

"(I hope people see that) someone cares, and that someone has bothered to master something at this day in age", says Wallace, when asked what he hopes viewers take away from his exhibit.

"It's a hard sell. To master something when everyone's good at everything, when everyone's an artist - that takes a certain amount of commitment."

Beside Myself: Kelly Wallace is on display at the JNAAG in Sarnia until May 6.

Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre speaks to Kelly Wallace. The London artist creates line drawings that are at once hyper-realistic and totally surreal. Wallace's work is on exhibit at the Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia. 7:35

About the Author

Chris dela Torre

Host of Afternoon Drive

Chris dela Torre is the host of Afternoon Drive on CBC Radio One in Southwestern Ontario. He's worked as a host, reporter and producer in several cities across Canada, and has hosted several CBC network programs, such as q, DNTO and The Story From Here.