Timothy Hoey’s basement workshop in Victoria’s Jubilee neighbourhood feels like a hipster’s paradise.
Antlers and an old brass clock cling to the far wall; on the countertop, an Edison lightbulb retrofitted with an LED light protrudes from a piece of L-shaped driftwood; above a stack of paintings, the schematics for an Alaskan packboard hang by a clothespin.
“When I grew up, my adopted father always told me, ‘Why does art have to stop on a canvas? Be creative with everything you do. Don’t just settle for ordinary,’” says Hoey, a former punk rocker and tattoo artist turned eclectic visual artist.
Earlier this year, Hoey’s O Canada Portage series, an ever-expanding collection of original Canadian icon portraits, was chosen as the sole visual artist exhibition for Canada Day festivities at Trafalgar Square in London, England.
“I’m always working on the O Canada work,” he says. “It started as a side project when I was bored on Boxing Day.”
In 2006, a gallery curator came by to pick up some of Hoey’s paintings for an exhibition when a Pierre Trudeau portrait caught her eye. Seven years later, Hoey regularly gets photos of his portrait subjects standing next to his paintings.
“Getting a picture of Theo Fleury or Mark Tewksbury holding my paintings of them, that’s weird,” he says. “Someone bought a portrait of Brian Mulroney for Brian Mulroney. I’m painting these people as historical landmarks, icons. So for someone to give it to them is really bizarre.”
Hoey’s portfolio expands far beyond the Canadiana that has made him an international hit. His more abstract work was previously displayed at the former Fran Willis gallery, while other pieces can be found at local shops like Milkman’s Daughter and Citizen Clothing; permanent works are also displayed at galleries in Calgary and Canmore, Alta., where Hoey plans to host his 2014 Canada Day exhibition.
He also has a knack for up-cycling, scavenging old wood, metal and industrial parts and transforming them into a series called Would You Like Your Stuff Back?
Hoey is currently labouring over a collection of works called Locals Only, a painted series of well-known Victoria musicians, businesspeople and odd historical downtown residents.
“I think people deserve to have something original, something that’s one of a kind,” he says, panning through each portrait. “I don’t want to see the same thing over and over again. And I think most people want something different, too.”
View Hoey’s works at timothyhoey.com.