Toni Onley (1928-2004)
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ONLEY (1928-2004) BIOGRAPHY
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Studying the work of great watercolourists, such as John Sell Cotman, David Cox, Peter De Wint and J.W.M. Turner, at the Norwich School of Watercolour Painting in England, prompted Onley to return to landscape painting in 1964. He returned to Vancouver to revitalize his connection with the Canadian landscape. Onley captured the Canadian landscape through a unique artistic lens: he became a pilot and flew throughout BC and Alaska, landing his float plane in remote locations. Armed with his watercolour painting kit and his eye for capturing the essence of the moment, Onley created works that continue to have a profound effect on Canadians.
Onley had been credited as a “modern day explorer with an insatiable curiosity to travel to the reaches of the world in search of line, shape and colour.” In addition to exploring the Canadian and British landscape, Onley travelled to Italy, Japan, China, New Zealand, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Alaska, Ireland, Egypt and the Gulf. Japanese watercolour painting and his experience with Abstract Expressionism gave Onley’s later works a strong feeling of the flux between time and space. These works depict a profound awareness of the moment, light and the powerful presence of what he witnessed while viewing the land around him.
Collections and more...
Public collections of Toni Onley's work include those at the Tate Gallery and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London England; the National Gallery of Canada; the Seattle Art Museum; the Vancouver Art Gallery; the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Mr. Onley was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, 1999. In 1999 he was also bestowed with an Honorary D. Litt. from Okanagan University College.
Books: A Silent Thunder--Roger Boulet; Prentice-Hall, 1981
Onley's Arctic, Diaries and Paintings of the High Arctic--Toni Onley; Douglas McIntyre, 1991
The Walls of India--Onley/Woodcock; Lester & Orpen Dennys, 1985.
Toni Onley's British Columbia, A Tribute--Toni Onley; Raincoast Books, 1999.
Flying Colours, The Toni Onley Story--Toni Onley, Gregory Strong; Harbour Publishing, 2002