Gillian Willans

Selected Works



2005 – 2008   Masters of Fine Arts – Painting

                       University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

1999 – 2000   Diploma of Arts Administration

                       Grant MacEwan University, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

1998               Fine Arts Painting Exchange

                       Kent Institute of Art and Design, Canterbury, England

1995 – 1999   Bachelor of Fine Arts - Painting

                       University of Alberta, Edmonton


2011    Parsons Paris, International Creative Residency
            Residency Facilitators: Charlotte Moth and Sam Basu


2013    Mise-en-scène, Telephone Booth Gallery, Toronto Ontario Canada

2011    Land Line, Telephone Booth Gallery, Toronto Ontario Canada

2008    Hiding in Plain Sight, MFA Thesis Exhibition, FAB Gallery, Edmonton

2005    The Long Walk Home, Eastern Front Gallery, Toronto

2003    Personal Space, Eastern Front Gallery, Toronto


2014    Fresh Paint: Snap Shot of Painting in Edmonton
            University of Alberta Museum and Collections, Edmonton AB

2014    New Painters/New Work
            Scott Gallery, Edmonton AB

2013    To Inspire: Visual Arts Instructors' Exhibition
             Edmonton AB

2012    Converge
            Muttart Conservatory, Edmonton AB

2011    Parsons Paris, Residency final presentation
            Paris France

2009    Toronto Outdoor Show
            Toronto ON

2008    Neighbourhood Tales
            Allen Grey Centre Gallery, Edmonton AB

2008    Re-Drawing the Line
            Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton AB

2008    11404
            Hab Studio Gallery, Edmonton Alberta Canada

2007    Turf
            Peter Robertson Gallery, Edmonton AB

2007    Crash Pad
            Latitude 53, Edmonton AB

2007    Alumni Exhibition
            Eastern Front Gallery, Toronto ON

2007    Visual Thinking
            Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton AB

2006    Painting in Italy
            FAB Gallery, Edmonton AB

2006    Fast Forward
            FAB Gallery, Edmonton Alberta Canada

2005    Scarborough Arts Council Art in the Park
            Toronto ON

2005    Riverdale Art Walk
            Toronto ON

2005    Spirit of Our Times
            Zilberschmuck Gallery, Toronto ON

2004    Hang Man Gallery
            Toronto ON

2004    Now Lounge
            Toronto ON

2003    Pulse Nine
            Riverdale Art Walk, Toronto ON



2006– Present   Contract Painting Instructor
                         University of Alberta, Edmonton AB

2008 –Present   Contract Painting Instructor, Faculty of Extension
                         University of Alberta, Edmonton AB

Fall 2013           Faculty of Extension, Painting Curriculum Author
                         University of Alberta, Edmonton AB

Winter 2013      Special Guest Lecturer,  Senior Student (Capstone) Critique
                         Augustana University, Camrose AB

Fall 2012           Special Guest Lecturer
                         Augustana University, Camrose AB

Fall 2012           Award Committee Member, Faculty of Extension
                         University of Alberta, Edmonton AB

Winter 2012      Special Guest Lecturer
                         Augustana University, Camrose

2011-Present    Certificate Student Project/ Exhibition Mentor, Faculty of Extension
                         University of Alberta, Edmonton AB

2010 - Present  Senior Level Portfolio Review Member
                         University of Alberta, Edmonton AB

2010 - Present  Certificate Graduation Committee Member, Faculty of Extension
                         University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB

2008 - 2012      Painting and Drawing Instructor, City Arts Centre
                          City of Edmonton Community Programs, Edmonton AB

2005 -  2006     Graduate Research Assistant Position
                          FAB Gallery, Edmonton AB

2004 – 2005     Administrative Director and Exhibition Co-ordinator
                         Eastern Front Artists’ Centre, Toronto ON

2001 – 2004     Arts Administrator
                         Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto  ON

2001                Toronto International Art Fair Assistant
                        Heffel Gallery,  Toronto ON

2000 – 2001    Professional Art Dealers Association Internship
                        Gallery One, Toronto ON

2000                Arts Administration Internship
                        MacLaren Arts Centre, Barrie ON



2011                BMO Financial, Toronto Ontario Canada

2010                Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Edmonton Alberta Canada

2009                City Regions Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton Alberta Canada

2008                University of Alberta Art Collection, Edmonton Alberta Canada



Artist Statement

Artist Statement: Mise-en-scéne

In June 2013 I completed a two-year project that was in direct response to my time spent in an artist residency in Paris, France.  This project was poetic at heart and was created in response to my time spent researching the history of realism in painting as it relates to early photography. During my residency in Paris, I acquired Parisian black-and-white postcards and photographs dating from 1850 - 1930 whose compositions are familiar to the paintings by Corot, Courbet, Manet and their contemporaries. The photographs appeared like stage sets. One depicts a house with a path perfectly framed within curtain-like trees. Others contain a compilation of a mise-en-scène inside a mise-en-scène; interiors that include a painting on the wall, often a framed idealized landscape of the French countryside. I choose the title mise-en-scène as it describes the art of setting the scene, something that has always been at the core of my painting practice. In this body of painting I am purposely referencing the staging at play in these found photographs. I believe we see our history, which includes people and places, personal and shared experiences, as scenes, always framed and bound to the viewpoint. This way of seeing became the source for my studio explorations. Informed by French realism, I imposed colour and paint into these found tonal vignettes, in the attempt of resurrecting the haunted spaces and the traditions of the past by directly referencing traditional French subject matter. It is my goal to tap into the viewer’s own familiarity and memory, thus eliciting a déjà vu experience.


My work deals with a wide range of conceptual ideas that are filtered through the lens of personal experience grounded in the history and development of painting. It is my goal to utilize and manipulate the tradition of realism in painting, to help create further unease within my painted spaces and places. In all of my paintings I hope to create tensions between inside and out, new and old, and presence and absence.  I use colour, paint application, and point of view as tools to create open-ended narratives that are both suggestive and ambigous.