New Year’s Eve, 1989

48 x 48″ mixed media on linen

New Year’s Eve in Trafalgar Square when I waited in line for 45 minutes for the only public lavatory. When it was finally my turn and the door opened, I discovered that the toilet was literally piled high with toilet paper and excrement. I had to pee behind a dumpster and that was the first time I ever saw a rat. It was as big as a cat.


48 x 48″ mixed media on raw canvas

When I was hitchhiking and a truck driver told me about the zodiac killer. For some reason that didn’t raise any red flags.


48 x 48″ mixed media on raw canvas

New Year’s Eve 1999 when I celebrated by walking the streets alone in a giant faux fur coat in gently falling, giant snowflakes and hoped the world wouldn’t end.

Sneaking Out for Donuts

48 x 48″ mixed media on canvas

Sneaking out of the house with my cousin in the middle of the night to get a long-john at a 24hr Dunkin Donuts. We were 12 or 13 and we did it a lot that summer.

Pig Lungs

36 x 36″ mixed media on raw canvas

The time in about grade six when the science teacher brought pig lungs to school. He then proceeded to inflate them with his mouth, which resulted in white foam leaking out of the severed trachea. I had to turn around to avoid barfing.

Looney Toons

36 x 36″ mixed media on raw canvas

Sitting on the landing and listening to my older, very tough cousin giggling his head off at looney toons. He would have killed us if he’d known we were there.


24 x 36″ mixed media on raw canvas

The time I tried to build a playhouse for my daughter with no plans and no power tools.

washing up

24 x 36″ mixed media on wood

My roommates and I being annoyed that no one ever did the dishes. Then, subsequently throwing dirty plates frisbee style from the front stoop into the deep snow so we didn’t have to wash them. Problem solved.

campfire feet

24 x 30″ mixed media on wood

Sitting around a campfire wrapped in a blanket and having my mother wash my feet in a washtub filled with warm, soapy water. So good.

crayon shavings

24 x 30″ mixed media on canvas

Sitting at the dining room table and making one of those drawings where you make a regular drawing, cover the whole thing in black crayon and then scrape away parts of the black to reveal the colour beneath. There were black crayon shavings everywhere.

racing a storm

24 x 24″ mixed media on wood

Being in a tiny boat on a lake as a summer storm swept in. We could see it coming and my dad raced it to shore. We made it just in time to run up the beach into our little cabin.

folk fest

20 x 16″ mixed media on wood

Being at a folk festival and a rainbow appearing right above the stage.

ghost horses

16 x 20″ mixed media on canvas

Stuck by the side of the road while hitchhiking with my cousin and encountering a large herd of horses in the pitch black night. We couldn’t see them, we could only hear them galloping and snorting and getting closer and closer. We didn’t even know if there was a fence between us and them. We just ran.

lemon drop

12 x 12″ mixed media on plywood

The time I choked on a lemon drop and had to Heimlich myself on the kitchen counter because all my friends were too busy laughing at me.

playing lava

12 x 12″ mixed media on wood – framed

Playing ‘lava’ with my brother and cousin and jumping from the dresser to the bunk bed and to the top of the wardrobe and back again. It was the 70s.

five speed

12 x 12″ mixed media on wood

The time when I wiped out in my new ‘five-speed’ road bike and scraped both my elbows, both my knees and my stomach. A stranger playing tennis nearby gave me a ride home in her car.


10 x 10″ mixed media on wood

The time I (for some reason) bragged in front of my entire class that I could spell the word “surprise”. I then proceeded to spell it “suprise”. I knew how to spell it, but in my haste I forgot the first r. No way to recover though, is there?

onion ring

8 x 8″ mixed media on wood

The time I ordered French fries and there was an onion ring in there. Bonus.


8 x 8″ mixed media on wood

Leading a costume parade through the neighbourhood with a bunch of my friends.

foot fat

6 x 6″ acrylic on wood – framed

When my friend cut his foot on a broken beer bottle and all of the fat came out. He got 18 stitches.

love song

6 x 6″ acrylic on wood

When my boyfriend wrote a song for me. Wait…that never happened.


6 x 6″ acrylic on wood

The time my aunt’s pet guppy ate her pet shark.

break in

6 x 6″ mixed media on wood – framed

The time my apartment was broken into and the thieves took my laptop and all of my CDs. It was the first time I ever lived alone and the first time I’d ever had anything stolen from me.

Shannon Pawliw makes paintings. These paintings explore the ephemeral nature of memories. Memories of a life lived through moments both happy and sad, banal and formative. What is believed to be fact becomes corroded by time and imagination into dreamlike chaos and ultimately has little resemblance to the actual event.

By acknowledging the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, personal moments are recreated by means of omission, acceptance, and refusal. They are expressed with both orderly and random layers of paint. As these temporal forms become distorted through repetition, projection, distance and time, both the painter and the viewer are left with a reinvented reality.

Shannon Pawliw makes paintings and she is also a graphic designer. To see some of her design work visit

For inquiries regarding purchase or rental of any of the works shown, please email

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