Exhibitionists·In Residence

What's quick and experimental but lasts forever?

For the answer, check out this week's Exhibitionist in Residence. Toby Gillies's work is bold, colourful and wonderfully weird.

For the answer, check out this week's Exhibitionist in Residence

Toby Gillies is this week's featured artist on Exhibitionists. (Instagram/@tobyigillies)

Toby Gillies has always lived in Winnipeg. "I love it here," says the multidisciplinary artist, who's this week's Exhibitionist in Residence — and if there's one theme that runs through the 30-year-old's practice, it's that love for his hometown.

During the day, he's the studio manager at Art City, a community centre that offers free workshops in photography and ceramics and digital art (and anything you can imagine) to people of all ages. Later, he might be leading a drawing workshop for seniors at the Misericordia Health Centre, where he's been the artist-in-residence since 2011 — providing programs for those living with disability or dementia.

I hope to find something I've never seen before. [...] That's what I hope other people see too.- Toby Gillies, artist

And even when he's off the clock, Gillies says his favourite thing to do is make art with other people. Collaborating with a friend, in fact, is how he wound up producing the animation you'll see Sunday on Exhibitionists.

If Matisse made cartoons for Pee Wee's Playhouse, they'd look something like this. A mix of video collage and digital animation, Gillies's work is bold, colourful and wonderfully weird.

He began playing around with animation last year when he and a pal, artist Matea Radic, were drawing together for fun. The friends are members of a local collective, Places for Peanuts, a group that holds semi-regular events at bars and galleries and coffee shops where they make zines and play drawing games. (The group's drawings were notably featured in an exhibition at the University of Manitoba last November, alongside work by other Canadian collectives including General Idea and Royal Art Lodge.)

He and Radic started animating, he says, just because "it was a reason to get together." Now making GIFs solo, he's produced some animation for local bands, and says he plans to eventually pursue a larger project.

"For me, they're like discovery. I start working without too much of a plan and then I hope to find something I've never seen before, and that's exciting to me," Gillies says. "And I guess that's what I hope other people see too."

"I like that they're quick, they're experimental — and I also like that they last forever," looping endlessly until you scroll to the next cartoon in his Instagram feed.

Take a look.

Find more of Toby Gillies's work on Instagram and the new episode of Exhibitionists. Watch online or Sunday at 4:30 (5 p.m. NT) on CBC Television.

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