The story of Vancouver art in the 1960s cannot be told without the inclusion of Tom Burrows. Although he does not appear on Intermedias registry or spring to mind when one is listing the citys past post-conceptual photo-based artists, Burrows was active and influential, linked as much in the past to experiments in painting, sculpture, performance and photography as he is today when one is speaking of what the kids call social practices.
Like another Hornby Island artist, Jerry Pethick, Burrows came west from Ontario after a stint abroad, eventually squatting on the Lower Mainlands Maplewood Mudflats. There he lived in a shack and, to paraphrase anthropologist Ralph Holloway, imposed arbitrary form upon the natural environment, most notably through a series of sculptures set in reflective intertidal pools.
Since 1990, Burrows has worked with cast polymer panels, a process that arose from his studies of historical painting techniques while he was a student at UBC. These panels, which exist somewhere within the hyphenation of painting, sculpture and photography, are born from a recipe of dyes, pigments and clear resins. Once cast, they are hung on the wall, where the story they tell is not of the painted monochrome, but of the illusion of space often associated with the photo-sculptural arrays of Pethick.