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Tom Burrows

Alternate Names:
Thomas Carl Burrows
Vital Dates:
Born: 1940


Tom Burrows is an artist, known primarily for his sculptural work in the medium of cast pigmented polymer resin. Burrows was born in Galt, Ontario in 1940 and moved to Vancouver in 1960 to begin pre-medical studies at the University of British Columbia. He quickly left the program, but returned to UBC in 1964 to gain a bachelor’s degree in Art History. At the time of his graduation in 1967, Burrows’ work focused on minimalist sculpture, and he went on to gain a post-graduate sculpture degree from St. Martin’s College in London, England in 1969. 

While attending St. Martin’s, Burrows was exposed to the European Student Movement of 1968, leading to a life-long interest in counter-culture resistance, and upon his return to Vancouver in 1970, Burrows joined the Maplewood Mudflats’ squatter community, the focus point for counter-culture in the area. In 1971, civic authorities burned down the community’s settlements, and squatting became a focus of Burrows’ work as his career continued. Burrows was hired to coordinate materials related to squatting for the United Nations’ Habitat Forum event that occurred in Vancouver in 1976, and from this, he was hired by the UN to document squatter communities in Europe, Africa, and Asia in 1977. The materials he gathered from this research were later used in his sculptural work, Skwat Doc, which was shown throughout Canada and Europe during the late 1970s and the 1980s. Burrows continued his involvement with the squatter community of Vancouver in 2002, taking part in the squat held at the abandoned Woodward’s department store building, which protested the lack of affordable housing for the homeless in the area.

For a brief period, Burrows abandoned minimalist sculpture and resin for new forms of sculpture in the 1980s, but he returned to resin in the 1990s. He has also experimented with painting, photography, and video art at various points throughout his career.

Burrows’ first exhibition was a juried show at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1965, and he has continued to have his work presented there, and at other galleries in Vancouver, throughout his career. His work has also been widely exhibited nationally, as well internationally in both group and solo exhibitions in locations including London, Italy, New Zealand, Paris, Argentina, Japan, and Germany. In 1995, Burrows entered a formal partnership with the Bau-Xi Gallery, resulting in yearly showings of his work in the gallery’s Vancouver and Toronto locations. In 2015, two major retrospective exhibitions of his work were mounted, including Tom Burrows, a survey of his work from 1965 to the present held at UBC’s Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, and Echo, held at the Bau-Xi Gallery’s Vancouver location, in which he reflected on his first exhibition there in 1970, his period of absence, and his yearly showings starting from 1995 to the present. 

In 1974, Burrows moved to Hornby Island and built his own combination home and art studio, which he continues to work in and maintain.

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