“... I recognized at once a powerful talent and achievement. Burrell had continued painting, but...seems to have refused to make his work known in the metropolis. Had he done so he would have been recognized long ago as a major figure in Canadian art. ...His work is solidly modern ... visionary.”
b Winnipeg Manitoba 1924, d Maple Bay (Duncan) BC 1991
Arnold Burrell became a four year honours graduate in 1956 from the (then) Vancouver School of Art, granted the Emily Carr Award - Lawren Harris adjudicator - and the first Arts awards from the Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation Award - Jack Shadbolt selector - using the capital to travel and expand his comprehension.
In 1958 work was chosen for the prestigious One Hundred Years of B.C. Art show at Vancouver Art Gallery; 1961 he created the first Nanaimo Art School and until 1966 established much acclaimed Island outreach art groups via Canada Council grants to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Years of many successful solo, group and juried shows followed; in 1974 a work was purchased by the Province of British Columbia Art Collection. Burrell works express his intensity, the inextricably intertwined life/art continuum, many classmates and colleagues calling him their latter day van Gogh.
Escalating success through 1950s/1960s/1970s/early 1980 brought seductive marketplace demands for quantity, which he became aware was insidiously compromising creative quality. By 1980 he decided to deliberately withdraw from the limelight to an obscure church/studio, painting and sell privately, experimenting with form, colour, medium, technique, continually challenging himself, his spirit guiding his intellect - revealing the science and soul of his art until cancer stayed his hand.