In the late 1970s Tony was contacted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC, to prepare a series of discussion-based presentations on the history of art as part of their “in-house” educational program.
Specifically aimed at a group of designers who were working towards certification in set design it’s free wheeling exchange of ideas and opinions revealed Tony’s flexibility and innate sense of humour. He continued to be one of their lecturers until the “Institute of Scenography” was incorporated into Ryerson University in the 1980s.
Freed of his regular lecture schedule he was asked to do a series of informal talks to local arts groups, cultural organizations and university classes. His topics included the history of watercolour painting and an introductions to the rules of perspective. Generally it was his knowledge-based presentation style combined with an irreverent and often humorous delivery that kept him regularly involved on the speaker’s circuit.
His involvement with the CSPWC’s Royal Collection Project since its inception garnered him many invitations to speak about that still ongoing endeavour and has, since 1984, been one of his most frequently requested presentations. It is a story about the difficulties of working with major galleries and institutions and the funny, accidental incidents that beset the best made plans. It is also a story that reinforces the importance of quick thinking and often audacious behavior. His “behind the scenes” experiences at Windsor Castle, Canada House and at Highgrove always enthrall his audience.
His involvement with the Centre Block of the Canadian Houses of Parliament in Ottawa over the last six or seven years has now become a regularly requested presentation. Parliament’s curatorial staff believe him to be the first artist to ever be granted pretty much free access to much of the key building on Parliament Hill. He has over his many scheduled visits been able to sketch in offices, meeting rooms and other spaces that are virtually never seen by the public. Seen as a “historical record” of the building in its centennial period he has produced and gifted six major works that have entered the Parliamentary Collections of the House of Commons, the Canadian Senate and the Parliamentary Library. In addition he has produced a portfolio of smaller canvases that will over the next few years reveal his artistic participation on ”The Hill” to the public in a series of exhibitions.
Tony’s talks and discussions started in the era of the slide projector but have of course evolved to power point presentations. Whatever the technology involved in these presentations the emphasis importantly remains on the interaction between the individual audience member and Tony Batten as the presenter.