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 Tom De Vany (Thomas) Forrestall  (1936 - )



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Lived/Active: Nova Scotia / Canada      Known for: sculpture, easel and mural painting, drawing

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Ad Code: 3
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Thomas De Vany Forrestall CM, ONS, RCA, BFA, DCL, DFA  (1936)

An important and influential Canadian painter, draftsman, muralist and sculptor, Thomas De Vany Forrestall (aka: Tom Forrestall) was born in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia and raised in Middleton (town in the Annapolis Valley) and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He lived in Fredericton, New Brunswick for several years (c.1959 - 1972) and returned to Dartmouth, his current home, in 1972.

Forrestall's biography has been included in the Canadian Whos Who books since 1981 and the Canadian Encyclopedia since 1985. He is discussed in most of the recent comprehensive Canadian art history books, his paintings and drawings have been the subject of several coast to coast travelling exhibitions, and his works are in numerous Canadian museums. Among his honors are appointments to numerous boards and commissions, two honorary doctorates, the Order of Nova Scotia, and the Order of Canada*.

His most well-known medium is egg tempera on irregularly shaped Masonite supports, such as ovals, circles, rhomboid, diamonds, triangles and T-forms. He also works in watercolor, pastel, gouache*, fresco*, acrylics, pencil, colored pencil, ink, lithograph*, etching*, bronze and welded steel. His subjects are portraits, figures, landscapes, still life, genre*, nostalgia, animals, flowers, rural scenes, shorelines, boats, houses, and studies*. His style has been described as Realism*, High Realism, Magic Realism* and New Realism.  AskART Images have some excellent illustrations of his oeuvre.

Forrestall's education includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB (1954 - 1958) where he studied under Alex Colville, Lawren P. Harris and Edward Pulford. After graduation Forrestall travelled in Europe for one year on a Canada Council* grant.

When he returned to Canada he worked briefly as assistant curator at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton (1959 - 1960); did some teaching; was an editorial cartoonist for the Fredericton Daily Gleaner; and was a designer for the University of New Brunswick Press. He has been a full-time artist since the early 1960s (most sources say 1960).

Forrestall's works have been included in numerous major museum and major venue exhibitions, such as "Artists of Atlantic Canada", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1966); "Directors' Choice", Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum, Charlottetown, PEI (1967); "EXPO 67", Atlantic Pavilion, Montreal (1967); "Spring Exhibition", Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec (1968); "Canada East: Diversity", Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan and Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta (1972); "Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Canadian Art", Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario (1972 and 1973); "Colville, Pratt, Forrestall", Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, NB and touring (1974); "The Acute Image in Canadian Art", Owens Art Gallery, Sackville, NB (1974); "D.P. Brown, Ken Danby, Tom Forrestall, Christopher Pratt", Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, France; Canadian Cultural Centre, Brussels, Belgium and Canada House, London, England (1974); "Through Canadian Eyes: Trends and Influences in Canadian Art, 1815 - 1965", Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta (1976); "Canadian Art in Britain", Canada House, London, England (1982); "EXPO 86", Vancouver, BC (1986); "The Collective Achievement", Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, Owen Sound, Ontario (1988); "Hidden Values", Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax (1994); "At the Great Harbour: 250 Years on the Halifax Waterfront", Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax (1999); "Artists in a Floating World", Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton NB (2000); "Frame Included", Owens Art Gallery, Sackville, NB (2002); and "The Crown Life Canadian Collection: a legacy for Regina", Mackenzie Art Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta (2004).

Forrestall has been the subject of several solo and retrospective exhibitions at venues like Owens Art Gallery, Sackville, NB (1961); Dartmouth College Art Gallery, Hannover, NH (1966); Sir George Williams University [now Concordia University], Montreal (1968 and 1975); Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia (1968); Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (1971 and 1979); Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, BC (1971 and 1979); Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, NB (1971, 1979 and 1990); Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario (1972 and 1974); Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Quebec (1972); Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1972); Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris (1972); Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax (1977 and 2008); Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario (1979); Canada House, London, England (1980); Canadian Cultural Institute, Rome, Italy (1983); York University, Toronto (1989); and the  McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario (2010).

His works have also been included in solo and group exhibitions at prominent commercial galleries such as Galerie Dresdnere, Toronto; Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto; Madison Gallery, Toronto; Marlborough Godard, Gallery, Toronto; Roberts Gallery, Toronto; Robertson Gallery, Ottawa; Walter Klinkhoff Gallery, Montreal; Carriage House Gallery, Wolfville, NS; Bayard Gallery, New York and Marlborough Gallery, New York.

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, his works are in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), Art Gallery of Mississauga (Ontario), Art Gallery of Northumberland (Cobourg, Ontario), Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario), Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Fredericton, New Brunswick), Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario), Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum (Charlottetown, PEI), Dalhousie Art Gallery (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Joliette Art Museum (Quebec), Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Concordia University, Montreal), Mackenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), McMaster Museum of Art (Hamilton, Ontario), Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (Quebec), Museum London (Ontario), New Brunswick Museum (Saint John), Owens Art Gallery (Sackville, NB), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), Sherbrooke Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery (Owen Sound, Ontario), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa).

The original locations for his public space works are the John F. Kennedy Memorial, Fredericton (bronze relief - 1964); the New Brunswick Legislative Building,  Fredericton (bronze of Sir Winston Churchill - 1965); Centennial Building, Fredericton (welded steel sculpture - 1968); Federal Building, Antigonish, NS (sculpture - 1971); and the Playhouse, Fredericton (outdoor mural - 1972).

Over the years Forrestall has been appointed to several distinguished boards, commissions and committees such as the Nova Scotia Talent Trust, Order of Canada on Arts, the Dartmouth Academy, the Board of Directors Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Canadian Fund National Capital Commission, the Board of Governors of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design; and the Board of Directors of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.

Among his numerous honors and awards are three Canada Council grants (1958, 1966, and 1977); election to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts*  (ARCA - 1971, RCA - 1973); the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Allied Arts Medal (1975); the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal (1977), Golden Jubilee Medal (2002), and Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012); honorary doctorates from the University of King's College, Halifax (DCL - 1980) and Mount Allison University, Sackville (DFA - 1987); the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal (1992); and Honorary Governor of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (1998). In 1986 he was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada* (CM) and in 2007 he was invested with his home province's highest honor the Order of Nova Scotia (ONS).

His Order of Nova Scotia citation reads in part:
"Simply stated, he is one of the most significant Nova Scotian artists of the past century, and the importance of his work to the development of the visual arts in our province, and our nation, cannot be overstated."  Source: Protocol Office, Order of Nova Scotia (website).
A Concise History of Canadian Painting 3rd edition (2012), by Dennis Reid (see AskART book references)

Canadian Who's Who 2012 - 2013 (2012), edited by Anderson Charters and Susan Charters (see AskART book references)

Benezit Dictionary of Artists (2006), English version (see AskART book references)

Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

Who's Who in American Art, 2001 - 2002 24th edition (2001), edited by Donald Bunton (see AskART book references)

The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists A to F 5th edition (1997), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)

A to Z of Canadian Art: artists & art terms (1997), by Blake McKendry (see AskART book references)

Hidden Values: Contemporary Canadian Art in Corporate Collections (1994), by Robert Swain (see AskART book references)

Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

Canadian Who's Who: Index 1898 - 1984 (1988), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)

The Canadian Encyclopedia Second Edition (1988), edited by James H. Marsh (see AskART book references)

The Best Contemporary Canadian Art (1987), by Joan Murray (see AskART book references)

Passionate Spirits: A History of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1880 - 1980 (1980), by Rebecca Sisler (see AskART book references)

Shaped by this Land (1974), by Tom Forrestall and Alden Nowlan (see AskART book references)

The History of Painting in Canada - Toward a Peoples Art (1974), by Barry Lord (see AskART book references)

High Realism in Canada (1974), by Paul Duval (see AskART book references)

Four Decades: The Canadian Group of Painters and their contemporaries - 1930 - 1970 (1972), by Paul Duval (see AskART book references)

Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Creative and Performing Arts (1972), by Helen M. Rodney (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network*

The Governor General of Canada (Order of Canada source)

Forrestall Fine Art (website)

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Written and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at
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