NORTH BAY -- Finding a way to turn his passion into a life long career, local artist David Carlin won first place in a worldwide exhibition with the Society of Canadian Artists.

“It was an international exhibition. It had work from Canada of course, the United States, Spain, Europe. So I was quite happy entering that,” says Carlin.

“I entered three works of which two are in the exhibition. I was quite happy to win the exhibition, I really didn’t expect to.”

The 2021 International Online Juried Exhibition showcases 105 artists and 156 different works of art between March 15 and June 15.

For Carlin, the piece that won was created based on his own experiences.

“We decided to go to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and that’s where the ideas came for the painting that won the award,” he said.

“The hole in the sock was from pacing back and forth because our flight out of there got cancelled because it was at the beginning of COVID. There was no communication. You couldn’t talk to anybody. No body.”

“It’s basically a room with windows, but it’s an in closed room. It’s kind of a claustrophobic room and there’s my leg with my polka dot socks and we’re stuck in that room,” he explained.

“’Are we going to escape? Are we going to get out of it, you know?’ So it represents the stress that we were going through, but it’s kind of a funny painting.”

Since starting his career as an artist, Carlin has exhibited in over 100 exhibitions, is in the archives of Ontario and Experimental de Gráfica in Havana, and a member of several local galleries including the Art Gallery of Sudbury, White Water Gallery in North Bay, and The Callander Bay Museum & Alex Dufresne Art Gallery.

“He’s a fantastic guy, he’s very beloved in the community,” said Natasha Wiatr with the Callander Bay Museum & Alex Dufresne Art Gallery.

“We’ve hosted a few solo shows of his over the years. Most recently back in 2017 I believe it was, for a retrospective of 50 years of his work.”

 “It was, I believe, the most attended, definitely reception that we’ve held and just for people coming in to see the show and it really just shows how much he’s respected in the community and just really loved,” she added.

Over the years Carlin has tried his hand at many different skills.

“I raced cars, I did rally racing, I had one of the two Renault 17 Gordini’s in Canada,” he said.

“I organized a large North American rally championship event out of North Bay. I had the largest entry in that series and I also was the first president of the Apollo gymnastic club.” 

But the one he has continued to do for most of his life is make art work.

“I haven’t done much straight drawing lately, but I love drawing,” he said.

“But I prefer working with acrylic painting, and the block printing, and collaging, and then taking that into the digital world again into a large size work.”

Although he says he won’t be racing cars again, he isn’t slowing down when it comes to creativity.

“I’ve made an application for a how about COVID at the Ontario Art Gallery, see if my works accepted there. But I have a show at the Museum in Callander in two years time. It’s called ‘David Carlin Last Kick At The Can… or Not.’ I’ll be 83 so we’ll see,” he said.

Adding with a laugh, “If I’m dead then, I’ll have a couple of videos to say ‘hi everybody! I’m back!’”

This is a show that Wiatr is already looking forward to as well.

“His work is just so interesting. In the last couple of years he’s really incorporated a lot of video work and he does really amazing sculptures and just to see the evolution of his work over time is very, very cool to see,” she said.

As far as advice for upcoming artists, Carlin admits it isn’t an easy life path, especially here in northern Ontario.


But he says “you have to be prepared to be dedicated to your art and to find a way to make money” even if that means delivering pizza like he used to do.