Following up on a casual 2012 discussion about individual “dream projects” Tony was encouraged to actively pursue his idea of researching a series of interior spaces that had hosted important events in Canada’s history. He focused his project on Canada’s iconic gothic-revival Parliamentary complex in Ottawa. This dream project would shape his painting life over the ensuing six or seven years.
He contacted the then Curator of the House of Commons and inquired if there was any possibility of him being given permission to work within the famed buildings on Parliament Hill? That initial letter was the start of a complex exchange of correspondence, phone calls and on-site interviews that eventually saw him given clearance and permission.
With the details agreed upon by everyone involved Tony’s first day of actually sketching in Centre Block occurred late in 2013 when he was allowed to sketch in several significant public and private spaces that were part of the domain of the House of Commons. Over a number of subsequent visits he learned from the curatorial staff that he was the first artist to ever seek to work on such a project and was certainly the first to ever be granted such permission. It was when he was given a four-day period of exclusive access to the Commons Chamber and its galleries that the enormity of what he taken on first hit him.
As the undertaking moved ahead he became a fairly common sight for individuals working on “The Hill” and in Centre Block. A fact that was reinforced when an alert staff member questioned why he was “off the tourist route and without a guide?” Apparently one of the Commons cleaning staff came to his defense and identified him as “our artist!”.
As his initial sketches were transformed into paintings on canvas interest in this decidedly personal project grew and he was approached by officers of Canada’s Senate and then of the Parliamentary Library to portray their areas of the Parliamentary complex.
In 2017 as the country was preparing for its Sesquicentennial celebrations it was realized by some that Tony’s project was of significant historical interest and there were discussions about some of his work being displayed as Parliament prepared for the 2018 closing of Centre Block for restoration and required upgrades.
To-date the artist has finished four major works that have subsequently entered the collections of the Canadian Parliament. Two works focusing on the Commons Chamber now hang in the private offices of the Speaker of the House and two larger works have been accepted and hung by the officers of Canada’s Senate. He is currently working on two further works that are destined for the Library.
The project that is currently coming to fruition is the result of nine or ten onsite sketching and research trips with all of the actual painting being done in his Toronto area studio. There have been several exhibitions of his smaller canvases related to the project.
It should be mentioned that the expenses of what evolved to be a major undertaking were completely carried by the artist and that the paintings that have entered the Parliamentary Collections were a gift from the artist to the Nation.