Born in Corner Brook and raised in Halifax, Peter MacWhirter has taken a circuitous artistic path to Liverpool, Nova Scotia, where he now works and lives.
While studying Sciences at Mount Allison University he was introduced to the world renowned Zoologist, Dr. W.B.Scott, in St. Andrew's, N.B. Before working with Bev Scott, MacWhirter spent a short time working as an apprentice natural History illustrator at the Royal Ontario Museum. The artist went onto illustrate many scientific publications including, The Atlantic Fishes of Canada (U. of T. Press, 1988). It was at the Huntsman Marine Science Centre, St. Andrews, that he was offered the opportunity to design and construct several dioramas in their aquarium. This led to work in film and television.
For 11 years he worked as a Key Model Maker within the Nova Scotia Film and Television industry. This work included work in the areas of prop making, SFX and special make-up effects. As demand for this work lessened in Nova Scotia, he began to investigate other artistic opportunities. In 2008, he was appointed Assistant Professor within the Design Department at Hongik University, Seoul, South Korea. He recently left this position for full-time art making in Liverpool.
The artist has lectured at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA, Beijing), Guangzhou Academy of Arts (GAFA), Shenzhen University, Shenzhen Polytechnic University, NSCAD University and OCAD University. He has been invited as a resident artist in Argentina, Australia, Equador, Paraguay, New Zealand and Shenzhen. He has received support from The Canada Council for the Arts, Nova Scotia Arts Council, Korean Arts Council and Canadian embassies in Japan, China, South Korea and the USA.
Since 1982, MacWhirter's artwork has been about marine and aquatic habitats, and the animals and plants that live there. The artist describes his practice as, "The mixing of visual metaphors to create linear and non-linear narratives." Irony has been a constant feature of these narratives.
MacWhirter graduated from OCAD University (AOCA), Toronto, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art (BA Honours), Scotland, and MFA from West Virginia University, USA. Later, he was accepted to the London Film School, however he did not attend due to an attractive job offer in Seoul, South Korea. It was there he produced the pilot for the award winning animation series entitled, NetiBee.
The artist's works are in public and private collection throughout the world.