Artist biography

Toni Onley born 1928

Canadian painter in oils, watercolour and collage, etcher and lithographer. Born at Douglas, Isle of Man, of Irish and English descent. Worked for a printer for two years and was then articled to an architect; meanwhile attended night classes at Douglas School of Art and under John Hobbs Nicholson 1942-8. Emigrated to Canada with his family 1948. Studied at Doon School of Fine Arts, Ontario, 1949-50. Began by making landscape watercolours influenced by the 19th century British watercolourists. Won a scholarship to the Allende Institute at San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, 1957 and spent three years in Mexico, where his work became increasingly abstract. First one-man exhibition at Vancouver Art Gallery 1958. Made his reputation with Abstract Expressionist collage-paintings. Executed a mural for Queen Elizabeth Playhouse, Vancouver, in 1962. Revisited England on a Canada Council Fellowship in 1963 and was greatly impressed by Stonehenge. Subsequently turned to painting the virgin Canadian landscape, with a few simple, monumental forms and somewhat visionary treatment, making watercolours out of doors which he afterwards used as the basis for oil paintings. Appointed assistant professor at the University of British Columbia 1967. Lives in Vancouver.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.574