Mark Crofton Bell
The Mom Project is a series of small oil on board portraits of my mother that I painted from observation during the final years of her life. The paintings offer a glimpse into the aging process and the systems of care that surround our aging population.
For the last five years of her life, my mother lived in a long-term care facility where she struggled with the challenges of dementia. The idea to paint portraits of her evolved simply out of a way of spending time together. As her mobility, hearing and cognitive abilities began to deteriorate there were fewer and fewer activities we could engage in. Painting was one activity that kept me occupied during my visits while also involving my mother’s participation. All the paintings are in oil, most are on 6” x 8” board, completed in a single sitting of one or two hours. There was never a plan to reach a certain number or to work towards a specific goal, each painting was simply a record of that days’ visit.
Many of the “tools” of aging appear in these paintings; the walker, the wheelchair, the hospital bed, the trays of food and the stuffed animals and dolls that were presented to my mother as therapeutic aids, all these elements speak to a system of care that is typical of our time.
Toronto-based artist Mark Crofton Bell has exhibited his paintings and wall works across Canada in various artist-run centres, public and commercial galleries including The Art Gallery of Ontario, Blackwood Gallery, The Kenderdine Art Gallery, Mercer Union, The Eastern Edge and Stride Gallery. Internationally he has attended residencies and exhibited in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria and Macedonia. He studied at the Ontario College of Art and Design and received his MA from Chelsea College of Art in London, UK. He teaches painting at Sheridan College in Oakville. Mark Crofton Bell is represented in Toronto by General Hardware Contemporary.