Peter Deacon RCA

“The Prime Elements” Series

“The Prime Elements” series, mixed media on paper or birch panel

These works are based upon the interplay of signs, images and symbols; irreducible components that I have named as “Prime Elements”. The component images referencing geographic location, personal experience, memories, prime numbers, geometry and primary colors etc. are “irreducible” in the sense that I regard them as being absolute. They are both Autobiographical and Universal. These works make particular reference to locations on or near the Continental Divide, the most important symbolic and geographical metaphor for my own location in Calgary.


These Collage works have been selected from the respective series: “Landscape and Memory” and “The Prime Elements.” They have been produced as a coherent body of work in their own right.

The collage pieces are based upon the interplay of components that I refer to as Prime Elements. The components such as geographic location, personal experience, prime numbers, and primary colors etc. are “irreducible” in the sense that I regard them as being absolute.

1. Prime Numbers (those numbers that are divisible only by themselves and the number one)

2. The primary colors of red, yellow, and blue often used as successive glazes as well as direct application.

3. References to the “Continental Divide” – the watershed whereby precipitation flows either to the west (Pacific) or east (Atlantic) oceans. The Continental Divide is used as a metaphor for the complex relationship between the left and right hand sides of the brain.

4. The use of postage stamps (both British and Canadian), references to writings and images appropriated from historical sources serve as personal and universal symbols of communication in the context of the illusiveness of memory.


The watercolour medium is the most difficult of all mediums. It is both frustrating and rewarding. It is frustrating because every mark shows, and nothing can be deleted. Therefore every mark has to be “true”. It is rewarding because, at its’ best, the immediacy of application is uncompromised and an equivalency is set up between the phenomenon observed and the behaviour of the medium. It is this elusive relationship that the artist strives to maintain. The observed environment and the fleeting connection with his own consciousness is paralleled in his attempt to allow a fluid medium to record something of that sensation.


Peter Deacon is a well-known Canadian artist and is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. His work is represented in dozens of major public and corporate collections and numerous private collections.

Peter was a faculty member at the University of Calgary in the Department of Art from 1975 until 2015. The recipient of many honors, including the prestigious Prix De Rome, he was also, in 2004, a recipient of the Alan Blizzard Award, presented in Ottawa for cross-disciplinary innovations in higher education. This is the first time a faculty member from the University of Calgary has received this award.

Born on the Isle of Wight, England, Peter graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Portsmouth College of Art, then attended the University of Wales where he received a Masters of Education. Later, Peter earned his Masters of Fine Arts Degree at the Slade School of Art, University of London. He was the recipient of a Prix de Rome award enabling him to live in Rome for two years from 1970 -1972 and he was Artist in Residence at the University of Nottingham in England from 1973- 1975.

Peter became a Canadian citizen in 1979 and resides in Calgary, Alberta.