Jack Bishop doesn't go to the woods to inspire his landscape paintings — he's behind a strip mall

Shopping carts, strip malls, side roads and parking lots are the characters in the Halifax painter's massive landscapes — or "brandscapes."

Shopping carts, strip malls, side roads and parking lots make up the Halifax painter's 'brandscapes'

(CBC Arts)

Halifax-based visual artist Jack Bishop paints Canadian landscapes...but probably not in the way you'd imagine. Gone are the shimmering lakes, unspoilt forest, winding rivers and roaming wildlife. In their place: gas stations, fast food chains, strip malls and parking lots teeming with cars. These are the landscapes Bishop grew up in and around — what he refers to now as Brandscapes. He recounts, "I had a friend who called my paintings 'brandscapes' at some point. It's more stuff on the periphery, outside of cities that I'm interested in — the highways and overpasses and gas stations." 

Bishop grew up in a small community in New Brunswick amidst residential subdivisions, a short highway commute through the sprawl of commercial retail centres. This sort of "nowhere" — on the outskirts of large urban centres — became what he was most interested in exploring. "I have a big stockpile of photos I've just been collecting over the years and then I'm always adding to it. From those photos, I'll change them and add them or cut them up and collage them together and that's kind of where the magic happens for me. Doing the collages — it's just kind of a way of breaking out of the single frame of a photograph."

Watch the video:

Halifax artist Bishop looks at the less glamorous parts of the suburbs as fodder for his vibrant paintings. Filmmaker: Matthew Brown 3:40

In this video by filmmaker Matthew Brown with help from Zoë Boyd, you'll meet Bishop as he explores and documents the urban outskirts of Halifax. Back at his studio, you get a first hand look at his unique process of collaging photographs together and building the paintings.

"I guess I like the opportunity for different meaning to be read into it," he says. "It's almost like it's a melting pot that people can kind of pick their own reaction to it. Thinking about it in regards to art history and how it relates to Canadian art or like landscape painting in general — you could think about it commercially or in a political or even ecological sense. To bring somebody over into this world and have that reaction from them, it's pretty cool."

See Bishop's exhibition Brandscapes at Studio 21 in downtown Halifax, June 7-July 3.

(Jack Bishop)
(Jack Bishop)

Stream CBC Arts: Exhibitionists or catch it on CBC Television Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT). Watch more videos here.

About the Author

Matthew Brown is a filmmaker based in New Brunswick. After receiving a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New Brunswick, he studied photography at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. He is the creator and producer of Studio Tour, a Bell TV1 show that profiled Atlantic Canadian artists and that aired for four seasons in Atlantic Canada.