“A Day in the Life” with Montreal Figurative Painter Mary Hayes

In her artwork, Mary Hayes alternates between watercolour and oil painting mediums, creating paintings inspired by representations of the human figure in both classical European painting and popular culture. Historical and contemporary source materials are thus conjoined, yielding a sense of disequilibrium and of multiple, intertwined and sometimes conflicting narratives. Family members pose in compositions that reference Old Master allegorical works, and teen hero/anti-hero narratives from sci-fi/ fantasy/teen sleuth /adventure genres. Through these familiar tropes, gestures and facial expressions are exploited as a means to express the individual’s personal journey within society at large, processing issues such as social isolation, human transience and climate change.

Mary Hayes has a BFA in Visual Arts from Concordia University. She has had several solo exhibitions and participated in group exhibitions in Quebec and North America and has received grants from Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Quebec, Canada Arts Council, and the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation. Her work can be found in public and private collections, such as the Art Bank of the Canada Council, Loto Québec, La GrandeBibliothèque du Québec, the Musée du Québec and Senvest Inc. She lives and works in Tiohtià:ke – Mooniyang – Montréal, Canada.

Mary Hayes
Destroyers exhibition, Galerie d’Outremont
Mary Hayes
Destroyers, Installation Shot, Galerie d’Outremont
Into the Woods, oil on canvas, 42 x 25
Mary in the studio
Destroyers, Installation shot
Ghost painting
Mary Hayes
Rookies, oil on canvas, 42 x 25, 2023
Mary Hayes
Sentry, 22.5 x 27, watercolour, 2022


Which ‘hood are you in?

I live in Mile End.

What do you do?

I am a figurative painter. When I am not working in my studio, I teach drawing to theatre productions students at Collège Lionel Groulx in Ste-Thérèse, QC. I also am active in the theatre community as a scenic painter, and I regularly contribute in this way to productions at Centaur Theatre.

What are you currently working on?

The paintings I have been making over the past 3 years are my response to the challenges of living through the pandemic and current climate crisis, envisioning the reality of future generations. This has been an ongoing collaboration with my daughter, nieces and nephews, who pose for me in photoshoots, which inspire my compositions.

Where can we find your work?

I will be exhibiting a body of work entitled Destroyers, at Moulin la Lorraine in Etchemin, Québec this September 23rd until December 9th. I will also take part in Renewal, a biannual fundraising auction held at the McClure Gallery for the Visual Arts Centre from October 20 till November 4th.

You can always find my work online through my website and my Instagram.


About Emilea Semancik 87 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: