Photo by Doane Gregory
Jeff Molloy was born as Jeffrey Robert Stonehouse at Toronto’s Women’s College Hospital in 1957. As a young boy, Jeff took to art using it as an emotional and expressive outlet in an age when children were spoken to but seldom heard. Jeff already had a strong interest in art when he had the good fortune to meet celebrated artist, A.Y. Jackson, who was then the artist in residence at the McMichael Art Gallery in Kleinberg Ontario.
Molloy remembers. “At the time, I didn’t really know who he was, but I liked his kindness and generosity as he shared his stories about art. This made an indelible impression on me.”
Other early artistic influences were Vassily Kandinsky and Henry Moore, both of whom he encountered at the Ontario Art Gallery. Molloy particularly loved the naturally lit Henry Moore wing and spent countless hours admiring Moores plaster maquettes. Jeff also remembers walking past a doorway catching a glimpse of his first Vassily Kandinsky painting, an experience he describes as “ feeling a wind ”. These early encounters set Molloy on a path from which he would never return.
At points in his life Jeff suppressed his creativity, wrestled with addictions and depression, his marriage suffered with Jeff always on the road working in the construction industry. Molloy refers to this time as the dark ages. In 1995 the Molloys moved to Victoria BC. This was a pivotal time for the entire family.
Jeff went on to study art at the Victoria College of Art where he graduated in 1999. Shortly after graduating Molloy mounted his first solo show Fiber of a Nation at the Elmwood in Toronto. This early Canadiana show contained his first life sized HBC blankets and hockey sweaters. Until attending Art College Molloy had never considered himself an artist or exhibiting his artwork publicly. Since graduating Jeff has won numerous awards, mounted many solo and group exhibitions as both an artist and a curator. Molloy, on occasion has teamed up with other artists to produce award winning collaborations while maintaining his solo practice. For nine years Jeff mentored countless upcoming artists through their first solo shows as the curator from 2000 to 2009 for the Gallery at the Mac in Victoria BC.
In 2007, Jeff and his solemate Kathryn, seeking a quieter life, moved to Gabriola Island where Jeff maintains a studio a stones throw away from a field of Sheep. On the solstice, June 2009, a seven hour surgery saved Molloy from a rare form of Cancer. August of the same year, not able to stand on his feet for more that a few minutes at a time, Molloy mounted a solo exhibition, titled In Search of Ritual at the Campbell River Art Gallery.
Other important exhibitions for Jeff were Fibre of a Nation (Toronto,ON -1999), Human Residue (Victoria/Nelson, BC – 2000), The Mattress Project (Vancouver/ Ft St John,BC – 2001), Venetian Vignettes (Victoria – 2006), A Canadian Portrait(Victoria/Gabriola – 2010) and Fachada Cubana (Victoria – 2011)
Recent acclaimed shows, Looking for my Land, Due North, The Adventures of JACK PINE and A SIMPLE LIFE have garnered attention from collectors such as the Walrus Foundation, the Labatt family, TD Bank, McKinsey & Co and CBC. Molloy’s found canoe paddles, hockey sweaters, mixed media cabinets, encaustic flags, and life-sized encaustic blankets tell Canada’s rugged northern story in compelling colour and dimensions.
Ultimately, there is something deeply human in Molloy’s work. In his use of old scavenged materials we sense their age and years of service to a more prosaic milieu before being marshalled into service as art. The worn, the broken, the lost and the found draw into focus a time very different from our own. As artefacts of another era, they are witnesses to the people, the travails and the injustices that Molloy’s work addresses. The hand of the artist is revealed in the use of tactile material, such as encaustic, wire, twine and, wood, that he manipulates in a very practical way, and in spite of the craft, pride and workmanship present, Molloy’s work is perfectly imperfect and gloriously human.
~ George Harris, Curator, Two Rivers Gallery, Prince George
Jeff Molloy’s work has been capturing the spirit of Canada long before the rest of the world caught on during the Olympics. He is one of this country’s leading editorial artists and one of the most original artists at work in Canada today.
~ Shelagh Rogers, Host on CBC Radio One
“Jeff Molloy’s exquisite work is very powerful medicine. It captures the spirit”
~ Gregory Scofield, Metis Poet/Author