Hush | An Interview with Nicole Allen

Show dates: April 6-25, 2019
Artist Reception: Saturday, April 6th, 5-7pm

WALL SPACE GALLERY is excited for the newest collection, Hush, by Ottawa artist, Nicole Allen. Join us in celebrating her jubilant florals and welcoming in spring!

Hush speaks to the unspoken conversations flowers hold as we carry them over the threshold of the home and into our lives. As they fill a room with their bright colours and layered airiness, they silently wait for our attention, for our gaze to fulfill our end of the relationship - and listen. While ephemeral in nature, the flower can contain multitudes, entire speeches intended to convey our potentially never-ending feelings. The thought and gravity we imbue in flowers show their importance to us socially, and this is what gives them their second life. A life after being cut from the stalk, and a lifelong after the last petal wilts.


Ottawa-based painter, Nicole Allen, sat down with assistant curator, Erin Crowell, to discuss her upcoming exhibition. 
 E: What are some things that strike you about this collection that sets it apart from your previous shows? 

 N: With this collection, I’m definitely allowing myself to get looser and more gestural, breaking down the forms to bring the composition to the forefront.  

I’m not shying away from flowers that are half-spent. They take on more personality and that’s an idea I’m embracing as I get older - that we get better with age. 

 I’m also starting to depart from the vase. You’ll see that in Tossed. I’m really digging stems and letting them be free to do their thing. And also doing more edge to edge florals with not too much negative space. You’ll also see a lot more white on whites.  

 E: What are major inspirations for you right now? 

 N: Paper, and the tactility of it.  

 Going back to embracing the gesture: I grew up surrounded by landscape paintings, a lot of Group of Seven, but my father, who is an artist, approached it more gesturally and very loose. He was very encouraging to just let go. That and Joan Mitchell, her brushwork and her use of colour. Lately, that’s really what I respond to. You still really recognize her for what she did, or you can make it what you want. She has a very wide scope of influence.  

 E: What are some inspirations that are fairly consistent throughout your work? 

 N: I’ve always responded to Japanese woodblock prints. They have a real simplicity of form and gentle layering that I’ve engaged with. Everything connects to each other. It’s the pathways - or the collective - that is in the work and in all of us, the environment, that is key. We are the sum of our parts. It’s not just about any one “flower”. [Woodblock prints] are also a flattening of form that I am enjoying bringing this through with my work on paper series. 

 My father was a beautiful gardener. A lot of these flowers are those my father regularly planted in his garden. He also had Monet’s poppies, which were a favourite. I love lupins, those are more linear. We also have a good garden at home, though it’s always a work in process. What I paint are like the gardens of my dreams. I’m not much into the tropical flowers. The colours are too bright for me. I like the softer colours more. I’m a green person, I really respond to those.  

 I like the aesthetic of English gardens. A lot of our gardens tend to be a bit too processed. I like to get my hands-on old copies of British Home & Garden or watching English gardening programs. They really let the gardens breathe but have focus.  

My husband, Jeff, is always an inspiration. There’s a piece in this show dedicated to him. When my children were younger, I had to confront myself and say, “Why aren’t I blissed out with happiness right now? What’s missing? “. I knew I needed to be painting more. I also went back to school. I’m doing this strictly because I want to and I love it.  


 E: Can you tell us more about the process? Do you largely work from bouquets, photos, or memory? 

N: A lot of my work is composites of several photos I’ve taken from gardens and flower shops. It’s great to work from flowers in front of me but I pull from my whole life. It comes from all over.  

E: It’s been so great to hear so much about what goes into the work and makes your florals come alive. What are the goals you’re setting for your work ahead?  

N: I want to surprise myself. I want to stay challenged. I find if I’m tired with my subject matter then my viewer feels that. If I’m energized instead that comes through. I think all artists are trying to stay true to that freshness, that inspiration. But it’s difficult.  

 I’d also like to continue to develop my landscapes to have a continuity with the floral collections. And to go bigger! 



This month, #balanceforbetter focuses our attention inward at the fine arts industry on both a global and a local level. As curators in the era of #TimesUp, we wish to highlight the skillful works of artists and empower them with the ability to express themselves through their art, no matter their gender. Each artist has, in their approach to their practice and/or in their statements, addressed this theme. They have responded to their inner voices, their roles in society, and how it is to be an artist in a field with few female role models.

On March 8th, our gallery launched the show on International Women’s Day with an incredible celebration of artists, art patrons, and fellow entrepreneurs including oleologist, Elizabeth Kilvert of The Unrefined Olive. It was a grand event that brought together a wonderful community, while raising funds for iSisters Technology Mentoring, a local charity that empowers women with the knowledge and skills to be able to create brighter futures.

The exhibit featuring the works of Alex Chowaniec, Sharon Kelly, Ariane Beauchamp, Lori Richards, and Marjolyn Van Der Hart, highlighted by Ottawa Magazine is on display until March 30th.

Strong Women. Strong People. Strong Voices.

A Year Of Wonder

Happy New Year!

2018 was an absolute blockbuster of a year for seeing growth from artists we have grown to know and love and seeing new artists capture our hearts. This year’s group and solo exhibitions featured 23 artists from across the country. We also celebrated our 10th year in business as a gallery in Westboro Village! We are so thankful for the support we received from everyone who came through our space and contributed to arts community here in Ottawa.

Here is our 2018 roundup featuring outstanding pieces from every show exhibited this year. Each piece featured is available for viewing in person at our gallery.

Febrauary 2018, FLORAGRAPHIC

Nicole AllenIn Our Own Time, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 in. 
Nicole Allen is an Ottawa artist who explores the ebullient qualities flowers have over our home spaces and our emotions. Allen says of her work, “I do not strive to paint an exact copy of the subject, but to convey its essence through colour, texture and simplified form”


April 2018, Sense of Place

Brian HarveyAlfama St., Lisbon, acrylic on canvas, 26 x 36 in.
Brian Harvey hails from the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto where he is fully immersed in the inspiring histories of urban living and industry. Buildings, streets, and cities ( and their inhabitants) wear their evolution in a layered and incongruous way for all to see. This creates a captivating visual geometry for the painter as he sets out to show how much we change and adapt as humans, and how our cities follow suit.


May 2018, Linger and Lure

(left) Sharon KellyOceans Foaming, acrylic and mixed media on panel, 30 x 30 in. 

(right) Crystal BesharaLure, oil on canvas, 24 x 24 in. 
While both Sharon Kelly and Crystal Beshara both find themselves constantly enamoured by the natural world, their art follows very different paths. This path, however different though, share a harmony that we thought fit wonderfully together.
Kelly explores the meditative effects of living near bodies of water. Using a tight colour palette, she evokes natural phenomena ranging from a crashing tide to the dry heat of the sun. From there the viewer is insanely transported through their own memories and experiences with water and its surrounding land.

Beshara uses her high realism background to provide structure and composition to her florals and seascapes before finishing her work with a loose expressiveness that evokes the emotions felt when standing by a beautiful seaside, or smelling a bouquet of fresh roses. Crystal is a two-time award winning artist of the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Prize, and an elected member of the International Guild of Realism.

Forest 48x48.jpeg

 June 2018, The Valley

Peter Colbert,Channel 3, acrylic on canvas, 48 x 48 in. 
Peter Colbert is a master in taking the complex, the fervent, and the bold and giving it a simplicity that keeps the viewer coming back for more. By parsing down a landscape or a moment in time down to its essential colour palette, Colbert allows the natural design of the painting come through. Another strength of Colbert’s is his mixing of colours that adds a shimmering depth to even the most geometrically tight compositions.

ELEMENTAL _ oil on panel, 36in x 24in, Brandon McVittie.jpeg


Brandon McVittieElemental, oil on panel, 36 x 30 in. 
Brandon McVittie uses colour and composition to reinstate a feeling from times gone by. A true student of history, McVittie captures the palettes and storytelling elements from Dutch masters while painting scenes inspired by his contemporary life. Recollection saw a wide range of scenes that represent numerous areas of the painters life: World War I-inspired paintings driven by his experience as a historical commission painter, pastor scenes prompted by love of the outdoors and paddling, and allegorical compositions ignited from a life-long pursuit of knowledge.


 August 2018, La Forêt des Folies (The Forest of Dreams)

Nathalie Grice, installation view, photo by Kristina Corre
Nathalie Grice is an Ottawa-based multidisciplinary artist fascinated with the symbiotic, but often disharmonious, relationships between humans and the natural world. While we ourselves are mere mammals, our endless industriousness and curiosity pushes us to greatness - and also folly. In our constant growth, our cities have spread far into animal habitats that must adapt or die in our wake. Inspired by this grim reality, Grice created a lifelike tableau of real scale animal sculptures arranged around a bed with pique interest. The installation itself was interactive, inviting the viewer to lay in the bed and feel as if they just woke up in a magical forest. Reality shifts when the viewer realizes the adornments and modifications each animal possesses in their own attempt to adapt to an increasingly urban world. From tattoos and eyelash extensions, to custom car decals etched into their fur, these creatures have taken on our own sub-culture signifiers to become “more like us” in hopes of survival. The overall atmosphere of the installation remained light and peaceful, the perfect tongue-in-cheek arena for more intense commentary.

 September 2018, X – The Tenth Anniversary Show 

Kelly GraceOn the Shore, acrylic on panel, 40 x 18 in. 

Joy Kardish, Piano Practice, platinum palladium photograph on paper, 20 x 13 in.

Drew MosleyUndercover, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 in.

Ava RothHoneycomb (Moss),encaustic, cotton thread, birch bark, glass beads, honeycomb, oil, Japanese washi in embroidery hoop 

X marks the spot - and the spot to be was our gallery one warm, September evening. With a party to remember, we kicked off celebrations of our tenth year in business celebrating contemporary Canadian art in all its magnificent shapes and sizes. This show featured ten artist from across our roster: Richard Ahnert, Elle Chae, Kelly Grace, Joy Kardish, Nicole Krstin, Vanessa McKernan, Drew Mosley, Ava Roth, Stefan Thompson, and Erin Vincent. This list ranges from artists who have been with us for many years, constantly showing us their talents and growth, to emerging artists that have joined our stable in the last year but that we can’t wait to see more of. We are honoured to have their blessing in our celebration, and it means a lot to have the opportunity to share their work with you every day.

012 - o dear one.jpg

 October 2018, TREASURES and SAIGONIA

(above) Olivia Johnstono dear one, photograph on paper, 32 x 44 in., ed. 1/10
(below) Manny TrinhBe, acylic on linen, 8 ¼ x 10 in. 

We were so proud to host our first solo exhibitions by both of these artists, Olivia Johnston and Manny Trinh. While their mediums varied greatly, they both view the world with a critical eye and a warm heart.

Olivia Johnston (Ottawa) is an award-winning photographer and art history professor at the School of Photographic Arts: Ottawa. This collection was triggered by her life-long obsession with collecting and an observation of how much meaning can be held by even the smallest or most discarded items. Through a strong sense of composition, and a meticulous and effective language for storytelling, Johnston created eight collages recounting memories: some her own, others from family, others of strangers, but all told through objects. The collages, or arrangements, themselves where then photographed and printed for presentation in large format, giving the viewer the eerily real sense that they could reach right out and touch the objects before them.

Manny Trinh (Toronto) was born and raised in Saigon City, Vietnam, before relocating to Toronto with his family as a teenager. Memories from home continue to be a daily part of his art practice as he sets out to reconvey his visual experience through deconstructionist and architectural paintings. His use of shadow creates absolutely life-life feelings of depth and perspective, but then the structures seen give way to abstract mark marking or occasional Escher-like toppling. This could be seen as the “human” element in all of these scenes inspired by real-life. While there are no people in the scenes themselves, the stories behind these man-made structures comes out in full-force as if the images were full of people.

Manny Trinh - BE - $850, acrylic on linen.jpg


 November 2018, transience 

David Lidbetter, stray, oil on canvas, 48 x 36 in. 
David Lidbetter continues to impress with his absolute command of the Canadian landscape. This collection sought to expand on Lidbetter’s established career as a landscape painter, further establishing the artist’s expansive talents in capturing the quiet and transient nature of modern Canada. 

Whether inviting the viewer into the end-of-day hues which settle over a quiet dépaneur - inconspicuous yet integral beacons of rural and urban living in central Canada - or transfixing the viewer with swaths of snow partnered with vibrant skies, Lidbetter commands the ephemeral complexities of the different vistas that make up our visual experience here in Ontario and Quebec. While fitting within the technical legacies of the “Canadian Landscape Painter”, Lidbetter sidesteps the predictability of classic palettes and agreeable rolling hills, preferring scenes that come out of the corner of the eye, leading you toward the less worn path.

silver and gold web.jpg

December 2018, Coast to Coast and Dark Water

Erica HawkesSilver & Gold, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 12 in. 
Dominique NormandUn Jour Dans Tes Filets, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 30 in. 

Patti NormandHair of the Dog, mixed media diorama in plexiglass cube, 6 x 6 x 6 in. 

Coast to Coast, was a two-artist group exhibition celebrating some of the beautiful coastlines this country has to offer. Erica Hawkes lives and paints in West Kelowna, British Columbia where she garners inspiration from the dramatic mountains and Pacific waters. Fluid, dance-like linework is carried by vibrant hues that capture the intensity and serenity the landscape has to offer. 

Dominique Normand's artwork shows the love she holds for her Laurentian community of Baie Saint Paul along the edges of the St. Lawrence river. Melding landscapes, abstraction and portraiture, Normand captures all a location has to offer, and brings its vibrancy to the forefront. The artist is very familiar with the varied coasts and terrains of Canada as she has travelled over 60,000km in the past decade to better understand and love this land even more. Normand was also recently selected for the CanadaC3 expedition.

The dioramas of Patti Normand contain multitudes. They are at once dark, hilarious, theatrical, and absolutely impressive in terms of the skill taken to sculpture and create each pieces. Normand (Ottawa) shows the sinister, surreal, and downright magical underpinnings to our otherwise mundane lives through her unique perspective as told through these miniatures.


Thank you one and all for a fantastic year. Here’s to 2019!

The Shape of Things

By Mary Anne Petrella

Drawing heavily from a background in Art History, Virginie Turcot-Lamarre’s self-taught approach to jewelry making is a nod to Minimalism, Land Art and even Arte povera – movements and methods that struck  a chord with the young Quebecois designer, influencing her signature bold pendants: unapologetic, elemental, form-driven statement pieces in wood and leather.

Moonrise Necklace , hardwood and leather cord

Moonrise Necklace, hardwood and leather cord


Under the banner Louve, Turcot-Lamarre is part of the growing number of “slow-made” creators and designers embracing small-production, local sourcing and quality-over-quantity. Her hand-crafted pieces, comprised mostly of salvaged materials, use wood from the forests of Quebec exclusively, which may be seen as sentimental - having first developed the collection out of her father’s workshop nestled in the woods some two hours north of Montreal. But don’t be mistaken, the essence of Louve, (that’s female for wolfen Francais) is how the fierce mingles with the feminine. This, and the natural world’s boundless material inspiration is ever present within Louve’s body of work.


Wall Space Gallery is currently showcasing select styles from her “Doux ardent” and “Marche lunaire” collections and will be keenly watching to see where Louve’s assertive minimalism travels next.  In the meantime, visit us at 358 Richmond Rd in Westboro to see these unique pieces of wearable art, slow-made with love in Montreal.


X - The exhibit


WALL SPACE GALLERY + framing is thrilled to announce X

10 artists. 

10 years. 

This year we celebrate a decade of our vision to exhibit exceptional artists, grow our community by supporting local charities, and make art accessible! Please join us on September 14th for the opening! We will be raising awareness for because it's childhood cancer awareness month and we've been supporting Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support Programs for 10 years.

Who knew that expanding our framing + art business by opening an ART GALLERY + framing in the Westboro Village area of Ottawa during the recession of 2008 would be so fruitful?

Yes, it was touch and go at times. Yes, we struggled to find our place in the art world. Yes, we are a local business representing regional + Canadian artists. Yes, we have juggled family with business life for more than 30 years now. We heart art, love what we do, and are so grateful for all those whom have passed through our doors. EVERY. ONE. OF. YOU.

We have learned to embrace the ebb and flow of running a commercial gallery/expert custom framing studio. It was our decision to open in a trendy (read expensive rent) street… in our hometown of Ottawa… with 6 months of winter… where the vast majority shop in covered malls.

What we did not expect was the blatant, sometimes foul, but often beautiful critiques of the artists whom we have been proud to represent. Cue the tears, the anxiety, and the “WTF” are we doing this for? Certainly not for the $! 

So with this in mind, we pitched X to 10 artists."How have you evolved in the last 10 years? What drives your practice? What the F@XX do you get out of it? Oh, and would you like to be part of this group show with a talented collection of visual and mixed materials artists who’ve developed and excelled in their practice?"

X features:

RICHARD AHNERT, Toronto, ON, Canada 

ELLE CHAE, Ottawa, ON and Seoul, South Korea







AVA ROTH, Toronto, ON


“Ultimately, beyond each artist’s expressed message, there resides a sense of freedom in the showing of these ten artists, who range in their artistic careers from emerging to established.”~ Erin Crowell, gallery associate and exhibition curator 

We look forward to 10 + more years! See you soon!

Patricia Barr, Director xox