Introduction and Credits
Al Neil’s work transgresses borders. Whether working with music, visual art, performance art or writing, he has always included collage and cut-up methods within his work and combined different media in its development.
Beginning in the post-war period as a jazz pianist influenced by bebop and hard bop, by the 1960s Neil developed work with a unique West Coast style influenced by Eastern religions and new music, and pushed the boundaries beyond music into sound collage and audio art.
In the woods near his retreat in Dollarton during the 60s he began producing large-scale assemblages out of beach detritus, making political statements and aesthetic associations. He later moved some of this production into the Vancouver Art Gallery.
During the advent of Intermedia, Neil began producing work that broke out of jazz music and laid the ground for a music/performance/art fusion that has been influential in the development of performance art in the city ever since.
In the 1970s he started publishing his writing in the Georgia Straight newspaper and published the novels Changes and Slammer.
Writing by Al
In the 80s he started producing a series of autobiographical collages that traced his artistic development through his influences and inspirations.
By 1988 Al had stopped performing in public and concentrated on the collages and by the late 1990s this output had also ceased.
Writing about Al
By 2000 Al had almost disappeared.
This site has been developed to show the range of Neil’s production over the past 60 years. There is much to watch, look at and listen to. Enjoy.
Glenn Alteen - Curator
Al Neil, Carole Itter - Curatorial Support
Archer Pechawis - Website Design & Coding
Mary Ann Anderson - Project support
Hillary Wood - Editing
Gregg Simpson – Recordings
Photography by Carole Itter, Michael de Courcy, Jim Jardine, Tod Greenaway, Christo Dikeakos, Nina Raginsky, Taki Bluesinger
Home page photo "Many Faces of Al Neil": Carole Itter
The Al Neil site was produced by grunt gallery in collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery as part of the Ruins in Process: Vancouver Art in the Sixties project.
Most of the material for this project was digitized during the Al Neil Project (October 2005) and made available through Al Neil and Carole Itter. I would like to thank them both for the exceptional support they have given to this project.
The Al Neil Project was a collaboration of community organizations: grunt gallery, Coastal Jazz and Blues Society, the New Orchestra Workshop Society, The Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery UBC. The Al Neil Project team was Glenn Alteen, Kristin Fung, Kate Hammett Vaughan, Eric Metcalfe, Scott Watson, Gregg Simpson, Al Neil, Carol Itter, Coat Cooke, Ron Samworth, David Rimmer, Marlene Madison, Krista Lomax, Paul Plimley, Jordan Strom, Julie Smith, and Michael Turner.
Al Neil is also featured in brunt magazine.
Special thanks to Annette Wooff, Terri Sudeyko, Ryan Peter and Jackie Mabey at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at The University of British Columbia
This project was made possible with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage through Canadian Culture Online.