(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
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 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.
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
2014 - "Canadian Visions". A PORDS Show at the Aird Gallery,
2015 - Gainsborough
2015 - John
A. Libby Fine Art, Toronto
2016 - Art
Gallery of Burlington, CSPWC - The Presidents Exhibition.