Alex Colville: A Story Never to Be Told


Alex Colville, Seven Crows, 1980, acrylic polymer emulsion on Masonite, Collection of Owens Art Gallery, Mount Allison University, gift of Mr. Ross B. Eddy © A.C. Fine Art Inc.

Alex Colville: A Story Never to Be Told

Curated by Emma Connors, Colville House Intern

22 October 2021 to 1 March 2022

Sometimes the absence of a storyline is just as compelling as its presence. In Alex Colville’s work, the feeling that some part of the narrative is missing creates unease and tension. Birds frequently play a key role in this sensation. For example, the painting Seven Crows resonates with an eerie stillness. Do the birds symbolize warning, death, freedom, or prophecy? Informed by the slightly ominous traditional rhyme “One for Sorrow,” whose final lyric is “Seven crows a story never to be told,” this work encapsulates a narrative tension that resonates across Colville’s oeuvre.

Alex Colville (1920-2013) was a Canadian painter, muralist, printmaker, and draftsman who grew up in Amherst, Nova Scotia. From 1938 to 1942, he attended Mount Allison University, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In 1946, he returned to Sackville, New Brunswick, to teach at Mount Allison University until 1963. Colville House, a house museum devoted to the artist’s creative practice, is now located in his former home, a modest rural Gothic-style house located on the Mount Allison University campus. Colville is one of Canada’s most celebrated artists and has been the subject of several major retrospectives, including Alex Colville (2014), organized jointly by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada. In addition to winning a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2003), he was a Companion of the Order of Canada (1982). In 2013, Alex Colville passed away at his home in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Alex Colville: A Story Never to Be Told, was curated in the context of the Owens Art Gallery’s exceptional paid student internship programs, which give Mount Allison University students professional experience in a wide range of museum activities, including curatorial practice, art criticism, and fine art conservation. To learn more about Museum and Curatorial Studies at Mount Allison University, please contact the Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts. This exhibition was made possible thanks to the generous support of Mount Allison University alumni Heather and Ian Bourne and the Department of Canadian Heritage (Young Canada Works in Heritage Organizations).

We would like to acknowledge, honour, and pay respect to the traditional owners and custodians—from all four directions—of the land on which we live. It is upon the unceded, ancestral lands of the L’nuk (Mi’kmaq) that the Owens Art Gallery is located. While this area is known as Sackville, New Brunswick, it is part of Siknikt, a district of the greater territory of Mi’kma’ki. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship,” which the L’nuk Wolastoqiyik, and Peskotomuhkati first signed with the British Crown in 1725. We express gratitude for the opportunity to love, work and play on this land.


Pierre Lassonde School of Fine Arts
Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts
Mount Allison University
152 Main Street, Sackville, NB • 506-364-2490

Owens Art Gallery
Mount Allison University
61 York Street Sackville, NB, E4L 1E1 • 506-364-2574
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Monday to Friday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
Saturday and Sunday 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Admission is Free
Masks are mandatory and proof of vaccination is required.

The Owens is partially accessible. The stairs from the entrance nearest the University Chapel have a handrail. There is also ramp access at this entrance, however, the ramp is steep. The stairs to the entrance off York Street have a handrail, but no ramp. The main floor of the Owens is wheelchair accessible. Our second-floor gallery and cisgender bathrooms are located in the basement and are not accessible. Two flights of stairs lead to each of these floors. The Owens welcomes guide dogs and other service animals. There are two, reserved, accessible parking spaces on the York Street side of the Gallery and one in the circular driveway adjacent to the Gallery.

If you have any questions about your visit, please email or call (506) 364-2574.