(Tony) J. Batten
O.S.A., C.S.P.W.C., S.C.A.
A visual artist who has exhibited his drawings
and paintings on four continents, Tony is possibly best known for
his work which focuses on the man-made elements of our environment.
His mastery of shading and texture within the interplay of light
and dark makes his work immediately identifiable.
These paintings with which the viewing public can
easily connect are often of familiar streetscapes and beloved landmarks
but have a unique sense of colour and life. His streetscapes of
his adopted home-town, Toronto, have been widely exhibited and are
to be found in many civic and corporate collections.
A past president of the CSPWC once introduced Tony
as "one of the few modern interpreters of the 18th and 19th
century tradition of the travelling artist” and his frequent
exhibitions of work themed to his travels would support this description.
In recent years he has had the opportunity to take part in many
major painting trips and the landscape as a subject has increasingly
become the focus of his work.
Born: Eynsham Hall - Oxfordshire, England 1940
Christ's Hospital School, Horsham, Sussex, UK
McMasterville School, PQ
Museum School, Montreal (with Arthur Lismer)
L'Ecole des Beaux Arts, Montreal
Sir George Williams University (now Concordia University), Montreal
University of Toronto
While going to university, Tony made a number of
career moves but it was while working for Canadian Industries Ltd
(C-I-L) that he received corporate support for his interest in the
history of the City of Montreal and his love of drawing its monuments.
He was commissioned to produce a map of Old Montreal and its historic
sites. This was in the days when only a handful of people actually
lived in the decayed area and only a few homes had been restored.
The map was widely reproduced in both official languages, and was
tied in with C-I-L's restoration of the DelVecchio House on Place
Jacques Cartier and their participation in the World Fair - Expo
'67. C-I-L also used his drawings in a number of convention presentations
and corporate promotions. Due to his work in Old Montreal, in 1966
he was asked to sit on the advisory board of the Montreal Historical
In the mid 1960’s Tony became a member of
J.A.M.M. (The Junior Assoc. of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
- Le Musée des Beaux – Arts de Montréal), a
group that ran exhibitions and social activities from the Museum’s
Stable Gallery. This began his life-long involvement with arts centered
He moved to Ontario in 1968 to study at the University
of Toronto and after graduation decided to try teaching for a few
years. Those few years turned into twenty-eight!
He initially taught at Stephen Leacock C.I., where
he was a member of the art and history departments. For three years
in the early 1980’s he was also involved with the CBC’s
Institute of Scenography where he lectured on art history to aspiring
set designers. In his spare time he worked on a number of professional
theatrical events, primarily for Marlene Smith Productions, designing
and painting sets and properties. Among the shows he worked on in
those early days of locally developed theatre were “Tonight
at 8:30”, “PIAF”, and “Dames at Sea”.
In 1985 he was appointed Head of Arts at Sir Oliver
Mowat Collegiate. A regular demonstrating artist in historical studies
at the University of Toronto, he was asked to join the Canadian
School at Cambridge University (U.K.) where for three years he was
the resident art instructor and lecturer. With a small select staff,
this program became one of the highlights of Tony’s academic
life. He left teaching in 1998 to pursue a career as a full time
While he has regularly exhibited his work and been
involved with the administration of a series of cultural organizations,
it was his 1980 election to the Canadian Society of Painters in
Water Colour (C.S.P.W.C.) that kick started a period of concentrated
involvement in the arts. Coordinating a succession of highly profitable
exhibitions that linked the C.S.P.W.C. with the National Ballet
of Canada, he went on to run the Society’s annual juried exhibitions.
Asked to take charge of their 1985 Diamond Jubilee celebrations,
he managed to have their juried Jubilee Collection accepted into
the fabled Royal Collection. The subsequent exhibition of those
sixty Canadian watercolours in the Queen’s Gallery at Windsor
Castle was a major coup for the country and the C.S.P.W.C.
Elected President of the C.S.P.W.C. for the period
1993-1995 he went on to organize Phase two of the Royal
Collection Project that saw an additional fifteen works added
at Windsor Castle to mark the Society's seventy fifth anniversary
in 2000. The paintings were exhibited at Canada House London in
2001 prior to moving to the Royal Library. Tony was invited by The
High Commissioner to be guest speaker at the reception where HRH
The Prince of Wales formally accepted the paintings on behalf of
HM The Queen. To mark the Society's 2025 Centennial, the third and
final phase of this ongoing Royal Collection Project will be the
jurying and selection of twenty five paintings that will thereby
create a total body of one hundred Canadian watercolours held in
perpetuity at Windsor Castle.
This four decade long project has been one of the
most significant undertakings of Tony's career.
currently travels regularly both as an individual artist and as
a member of the PORDS, a well known painting group. He is actively
involved with a number of arts related organizations and is a popular
participant in fund raising activities for several Canadian based
charitable and not-for-profit groups.
Trusting that he will be able to continue to paint
and draw for several more decades Tony has said "that looking
back over the decades that have passed it is the events that I was
drawn into as a volunteer that have illuminated my life experiences
the most. It has been the totally unanticipated meeting with wonderful
individuals, both unknown and acclaimed, that has provided some
of the most searching moments of pause and reflection. I would encourage
anyone to go outside of their own career paths and assist in some
project with a different community .... the rewards for this "time
well spent" can prove to be life changing."
Has been in numerous juried group and solo exhibitions since his
initial show in 1967. Significant group shows include:
1981 - Provincetown Art Assoc., USA
1982, 1983 - Ontario Society of Artists
1986 - Ontario House, London, U.K.
1988 - Queen's Gallery, Windsor Castle, U.K.
1999 - Museo Nacional de la Acuarela. Coyoacan, Mexico
2000 - Drawing 2000. John B Aird Gallery, Toronto
2000 - A Brush with History. Mississauga
2004 - Documents of Greece. Aird Gallery, Toronto
2006 - Art Gallery of Ontario (Culture City Exhibit)
2005 - 2006 - Unlimited Potential (Touring Exhibition)
2007 - Linkway Gallery, T.D. Centre, Toronto
2007 - Legislative Gallery, Iqaluit, Nunavut
2007 - Prince of Wales Gallery, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
2007 - Penn Sate Abington College, USA
2007 - McMichael Gallery, Kleinburg. Polar Artists
2008 - A Continuing Journey. The Aird Gallery, Toronto
2009 - Museo Nacional de la Acuarela. International Invitational
Show. Coyoacan, Mexico
2009 - Treasures 2009. The Aird Gallery, Toronto
2009 - Art Gallery of Northumberland, Cobourg, Ontario
2009 - Art Gallery of Hamilton, SCA Members Exhibition
2009 - Rick Moore Gallery, Naples, Florida. USA
2010 - Roberts Gallery, Arts and Letters Club Exhibition
2010 - Galleria via di Visiale, Spoleto, Italy
2011 - "Inspired by Spoleto" - the Joseph D. Carrier Gallery,
2012 - "Blending Genres" - The Women's Art Association,
2012 - Society of Canadian Artists Elected Members Halifax Club
Exhibition. Halifax, Nova Scotia