Anthony J. Batten

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Biography

Tony at Beechey IslandAnthony (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.

Born: Eynsham Hall - Oxfordshire, England 1940

Education
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 Society.

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 a number of exhibitions and social activities from the Museum’s Stable Gallery. This began his life-long involvement with arts centered volunteer activities.

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. which at the time was at the forefront of educational reappraisal. There he was a member of both the History and the Fine Arts departments. In 1985 he was appointed Head of Arts at Sir Oliver Mowat C.I. In the 1980's he also lectured on art history with the CBC's Institute of Scenography until that program was absorbed into Ryerson University.

In his spare time he worked on a number of theatrical productions primarily for Marlene Smith Productions. This was in the very early days of Toronto's locally developed theatre and it introduced him into widely divergent design performance communities. He worked on a number of productions that became local theatrical legends including "Paif", “Dames at Sea” and “Tonight at 8:30”. He also taught and demonstrated with the Royal Ontario Museum and with the University of Toronto. In the mid 1980's he joined the Canadian School at Cambridge University (U.K.). where he was the resident art instructor and lecturer. With a small select staff that program became a fondly remembered highlight of Tony's academic life. He left teaching in 1998 to pursue a career as a full time painter.

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 for a number of years. 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.

Roughly five years ago Batten unknowingly embarked on a major project when he made some inquiries relating to producing images of the architectural interiors of the Canadian Houses of Parliament. He was invited to Ottawa to discuss his concept and he was after a required vetting period given permission to proceed within the Commons area of the buildings. At that time he was informed that their research indicated he was possibly the first artist to ever be given such permission.

His work in the Commons was noticed by other governmental areas and he was subsequently invited to extend his project to both the Senate and the Parliamentary Library. In 2017 a number of his paintings entered the historic collections of the House of Commons and the Senate.

Tony in Colonia, Uruguay - November 2010Tony 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."

Exhibitions
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, Toronto
2012 - "Blending Genres" - The Women's Art Association, Toronto
2012 - Society of Canadian Artists Elected Members Halifax Club Exhibition. Halifax, Nova Scotia
2014 - "Canadian Visions". A PORDS Show at the Aird Gallery, Toronto
2015 - Gainsborough Gallery, Calgary
2015 - John A. Libby Fine Art, Toronto
2016 - Art Gallery of Burlington, CSPWC - The Presidents Exhibition.


Solo Exhibitions

1967 - Galerie Place Royale, Montreal
1967 - The Del Vecchio House, Montreal
1968 - Stable Gallery, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
1969 - Sir George Williams University Gallery, Montreal
1985 - 1987 - The Elgin Theatre during Toronto production of Cats
1987, 1988 - The Whitten Gallery, King City
1988 - The Arts and Letters Club, Toronto
1993, 1994 - The Whitten Gallery, King City
2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 - The O'Connor Gallery, Toronto
2007 - The O'Connor Gallery, Toronto
2008 - Impressions Gallery, Toronto
2011 - Yorkminster Park Gallery, Toronto
2012 - The Arts and Letters Club, Toronto
2012 - The Nano Gallery, Yorkville, Toronto
2013 - The Westmount Gallery, Toronto
2014 - The Gallery at Paper Things, Yorkville, Toronto
2015 - The Westmount Gallery, Toronto


Tony sketching on locationCollections
Among the individuals and institutions holding his work are:
H.M. The Queen, The Royal Library, Windsor Castle
H.M. Queen Elizabeth - The Queen Mother, Clarence House
HRH The Prince of Wales, Highgrove
HRH The Duke of York, Buckingham Palace
Senator J. Baruch-Silver, Dublin, Eire
Royal St. George's College, Toronto
Arthur Anderson Ltd. St. Charles, Illinois, U.S.A.
City of Toronto Archives, Market Gallery Collection
Allstate Insurance Co. of Canada
Crown Life Assurance, Calgary, Alberta
De Gobeo Holdings, Brandon, Manitoba
The Gardiner Museum, Toronto
The Government of Ontario Art Collection
McMillan and Company, New York
Masterworks Foundation, Hamilton, Bermuda
Sir Christopher Ondaatje (Pagurian Press)
The Lombard Financial Group, Toronto
The J. Pattison Group, Vancouver
The Provincial Archives of Newfoundland & Labrador
Royal Canadian Yacht Club (R.C.Y.C.), Toronto
St. John's College, Cambridge University, U.K.
The Imax Corporation, Toronto
The Royal Canadian Military Institute, Toronto
University Of Toronto Collections
Vancouver Maritime Museum
Hon. John Black Aird. Frm. Lt. Gov. of Ontario
Hon. Hilary Weston. Frm. Lt. Gov. of Ontario
Ms. Rita MacNeil
Memorial University, St. Johns, Newfoundland
Dofasco, Hamilton, Ontario
STELCO, Hamilton, Ontario

Awards & Commissions
1979 Dominion Foundries & Steel (Dofasco) Purchase Award  
1981 Corporation of the City of Toronto, Purchase Award  
1983 Corporation of the City of Toronto, Purchase Award  
  C.K.O.C. Arts Hamilton, Purchase Award  
1984 C.S.P.W.C. Award of Merit – The Curry Award  
  Crown Life Assurance, Purchase Award  
1985 Weber Costello Ltd., Purchase Award  
  Corporation of the City of Toronto, Purchase Award  
1986 Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Calendar Commission  
1987 City of Toronto, “Royal Visit” Commission
The A. J. Casson Medal
The A. J. Casson Medal
  Wardair – Commission for Pearson International Airport
1988 National Ballet of Canada – Graphic Artist for the Ballet Ball
1990 Canadian General Assurance Commission
1992 Norwich Union Life Insurance Commission
  Recipient of the 125th Anniversary of Confederation Medal
1995 Lombard Canada Ltd. Commission
1996 Recipient of the A. J. Casson Medal for outstanding achievement in watercolour painting
2000 American West Airlines Commission  
2001 Government of Canada Diploma, United Nations General Assembly International Year of The Volunteer
2002 Recipient of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal  
  Recipient of the C.S.P.W.C.’s Julius Griffith Award for outstanding contributions to the Arts
2006 Corporation of the City of Toronto Purchase Award  
2007 Commission for the Avril Lavigne Promotional Video - MTV  
2007 Elected Life Member of the C.S.P.W.C.  
2009 Jarvis Sloan Award for Watercolour  
2009 The Society of Canadian Artists, A. Stevens Award for Acrylics  
2011 CSPWC'S Presidents' Award  
2012 The Louis W. MacEachern Award, SCA elected members exhibition, Halifax Club, Halifax, Nova Scotia
2012 Recipient of The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (for volunteerism in the arts)
2014 Arabella Magazine prize winner "Landscape Competition"
2015 Society of Canadian Artists - Tony was made an "Honorary S.C.A. Member".


Arts Organizations

The Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, elected 1980 (President 1993-1995)
• The English Harbour Group (Newfoundland) 1991
The Society of Canadian Artists, elected 1998
The Federation of Canadian Artists (Signature Member 2002)
• Polar Artists Group, 2007
Ontario Society of Artists, elected 2012
The Arts & Letters Club, Toronto

 

Listed in the "Canada's Who's Who" - University of Toronto Press.