Artist’s Inspiration: Mike Mason

A dark wooded forest in the background. White overlay text reads Artist's Instpiration: Rites of Passage

We invited local artists to respond to the theme of Rites of Passage as part of our Wall of Art series, a quarterly juried art show produced in partnership with Guelph Arts Council. The submissions received were incredibly varied, as each artist brought a truly unique perspective to the theme. For this blog series, we asked the artists to share their inspiration and the story that their piece tells.

Mike Mason – From the Fire: An Account of War by Mark Richardson

Mike Mason is a Guelph-based painter, photographer and current serving member of The Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada.  Mike graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design in 2008 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and has participated in several juried art exhibitions and charity auctions.  In 2015 Mike founded the Afghanistan Veteran Project, a portrait photography project featuring accounts written by veterans about their experiences in Afghanistan.  The objective of the project is to raise awareness about what veterans went through and are still going through.  The project represents an intimate experience into the context of war, allowing those that fought the conflict the opportunity to dictate how we remember it.  The project is an outlet of discovery not only in oneself but into the lives of others. His artwork is dedicated to all members, current and fallen, who have served in Afghanistan.

For the Wall of Art, Mike submitted the portrait and story of Second Lieutenant Mark Richardson.  Mark served in Afghanistan on Task Force 1-10 as a mentor and trainer to Afghan troops as part of Task Force Kandahar.

“When I think about my tour in Afghanistan I think of my immediate teammates, the violence I encountered, fellow Canadians that were injured and killed, the positive impact my organization had on Afghanistan, and the ANA that I worked with. I chose to write about the ANA because we often fail to think about the struggles of Afghans to secure Afghan stability. Just like us, the soldiers of the ANA want peace and stability; they want to return to their homes and live without having to fear the reality of war. Yet that continues to be their reality, a context dominated by war.”

Upon return to Canada, Mark has followed his passion for realty and is a licensed real estate agent, operating in the Cambridge area.

Mark’s full story and other stories from the Afghanistan Veteran Project can be viewed at

From the Fire: An Account of War by Mark Richardson is on display at the Guelph Civic Museum until January 8, 2017. 

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Posted by Dawn Owen on November 7, 2016