George Wallace
Rising Hamilton
Alternate View
George Wallace was a celebrated artist and teacher with a career that spanned over 70 years. He taught at the McMaster University Department of Fine Art from 1960 to 1985, having a profound influence on an entire generation of artists in Hamilton. Throughout this period he continued to make sculpture, paintings, prints and drawings, exploring a huge variety of media.

Lazarus rising

One of Wallace’s most iconic and repeated images was that of Lazarus. He stated his interest in the myth during a 2001 interview with Bryce Kanbara:

“There were Lazarus paintings before the Lazarus sculpture, made in England. I think I was interested in the strange, ambivalent situation Lazarus finds himself in. Does he really want to come back? These later welded images, as I said, have something to do with the deaths of my mother and my father. Outbursts of sculpture-making occurred after each of their deaths as some way of mourning, I suppose.”

National Gallery of Ireland

Some six years after his father’s death, in September 2015, Kit Wallace visited the National Gallery of Ireland. He brought some examples of George Wallace’s prints with him as the Wallace family were thinking of gifting a representative selection of his work to a public collection in Ireland. In 2016 the Gallery Board accepted the Wallace family’s generous gift of some 250 etchings, woodcuts, monotypes and drawings by George Wallace. The National Gallery of Ireland will showcase this collection in a historic exhibition: George Wallace, Reflections on Life, (September 11 – December 13, 2020), the first time in 50 years that his work will be shown in Ireland.

Read the full story by Anne Hodge here.

Bronze heads

Ten playful bronze heads created between 1988-1998 became another prolific series Wallace completed. He stated on these works:

“They look like chessmen, someone said, rather heraldic. And I think that the red bases comes from this notion… It’s only recently that I’ve begun to think of how they relate to each other. They seem to develop a relationship that’s whimsical, humorous. The quality I enjoy in poetry is the quality of wit. I like the poetry of late 17th, 18th century because it’s so concise and inventive. And I think wit is the great charm of all works of art – the major quality of being able to turn a phrase humorously or maliciously… It’s nonsense, of course. It simply gives you a framework for a performance of some kind. They’re related to one another in some way, goodness knows in what way. They’re watching, responding to one another.”

A display of Wallace's bronze head series at the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
Wallace made a series of satirical monotypes in the late 80s and 90s of business people, inspired by the images in the business section of the Globe & Mail.

“In mood and material, the sculpture of George Wallace is very much a product and reflection of the contemporary world, but in the imagery he chooses, Wallace carries on with his job as if the society he addresses still believes in the traditions on which it is based. In this, George Wallace’s sculpture is art of conviction. It is also a quiet sign of hope…It is not our concern whether or not these man-made objects gain admission into art history or are found acceptable to partake of the economy. It is enough that they are helpful and that they are signs. This, more than the fact they are well-made in deterioration-resistant metals, insures their permanence and staying power. The monuments you are about to view, our grandchildren will proudly call part of their heritage.”

– “An Introduction to the Sculpture of George Wallace” by Robert Clark Yates, 2008