Work & Bio

Tom Forrestall

Born in 1936

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Born in Middleton, Nova Scotia, he grew up there and in Dartmouth. His early interest in art was stimulated by books on art. When his family moved to Dartmouth he attended Saturday Morning Classes at the NSCA in Halifax. Following high school he began art studies at Mount Allison University, Sackville, N.B. (1954), under Lawren P. Harris and Alex Colville, and grad­uated in 1958 with his B.F.A. degree. Under these top Canadian artists he developed his natural abilities and emerged as a skilful painter who was awaiting an opportunity to develop his ideas. He married fellow student Natalie LeBlanc of Atholville, N.B. Having been a scholarship student he was awarded a CC grant for study and travel in Europe. When he and Natalie returned to Canada they settled in Fredericton where he worked for a year as assistant curator of the Beaverbrook AG; then as an editorial cartoonist for the Fredericton Daily Gleaner, and designer for UNB Press. One of Forrestall’s patrons, Brigadier Michael Wardell, made it possible for him to buy a converted building, formerly an old bakery. There he conducted art classes one night a week. With the income now from his jobs and his teach­ing, he was able to devote more of his time to painting. It was not long before he adopted the tried and true medium of egg tempera as well as acrylics. By 1963 he was experimenting with panels of shapes other than the traditional rectangle. In 1965 he held his first solo show at Roberts Gallery, Toronto. During this period he painted remarkable scenes which were described by artist and teacher, Dr. Donald C. MacKay, as follows, “His paintings, many inspired by the rural tranquility of the Maritimes, frequently reflect nostalgic qualities often inherent in their subjects, yet emphasized so that he shares his intimate experience with the viewer. His preferred medium, egg tempera, is ideally suitable for this expression and the diverse forms of frames are designed to encourage participation and thus enhance this special relationship.” Among his works were The Ladder (1964) – AGW; the magnificent Breakwater (1965) – Owens AG; Up River (1965) – U de Moncton; Saturday Morning (1967) – Mr. & Mrs. M. Franklin; Backyard (1971) – Mrs. & Mrs. R. Cohen; Hauled Out (1972) – Priv. Coll.; Lumber Yard with Rainbow (1977) – Three Oaks Corp.; Man, Tree and Dog (1977) – Three Oaks Corp.; Sculpture (1977-78) – Three Oaks Corp., but these are only a few of his many fine paintings. Forrestall once explained, “Technically, my way of painting is traditional – preliminary studies, rough compositional drawings, then the painting. Egg tempera is an impeccable time-tested formula for permanency and long last­ing beauty. With this guarantee I can rest assured of the stability of the medium. I feel the artist needs all the help he can get or inherit in order to carry out his most difficult job – producing a work of art.” His solo shows include: Roberts Gal., Tor. (1965) (1968) (1970); Dartmouth College AG, Hannover, N.H., U.S.A.; Walter Klinkhoff Gal., Mtl. (1967) (1969); SGWU (Concordia), Mtl. (1968) (1975); HH, U. of T. (1975); Beaverbrook AG (trav. across Can., 1971); MMFA, Mtl. (1972); WAG, Wpg. (1972); Can. Cult. Centre, Paris, France (1972); Boston City Hall, U.S.A. (1972); Marlborough Godard Gal. Tor. (1975) (1978); AGW, Windsor, Ont. (1974); N.S. MFA Centennial Gal. (touring, 1974); Marlborough, NYC (1976); Mira Godard Gal., Mtl. (1977); Owens AG, Mt. Allison U. (touring 40 tempera paint., 1978-79) (touring retros. yrs. 1957-1978) and others. He participated in many important group shows national and international. While develop­ing his painting he also focused on sculpture and did a bronze relief of the late President Kennedy for the Kennedy Memorial in Fredericton (1964); by 1967 had created a large outdoor piece for the Atlantic Pavilion at Expo ’67, Mtl.; two large sculptures for the Federal Building, Antigonish, N.S. (1971) and many other smaller pieces. He also produced a large outdoor mural for the fly-roof of the Playhouse in Fredericton. His awards include: CC grants (1958) (1959) (1966); Citation from Sec. of State, Commonwealth of Mass., U.S.A. (1972); elected, Bd. of Dirs., NSMFA (1974-75); RAIC Allied Arts Medal (1975); chosen one of five judges, Series V, Olympic Coins ’76 (1975); Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal (1977). He is represented in the following collections: Confed. AG & Mus., Charl’twn., P.E.I.; Mt. Allison U., Sackv., N.B.; UNB, Fred.; N.B. Leg. Bldg., Fred.; NBM, Saint John; WAG, Man.; SGWU (Concordia U), Mtl.; Bank of Mtl., Mtl.; UWO, Lond., Ont.; CCAB, Ott.; and elsewhere. He resides in Dartmouth with his wife Natalie (they have 6 grown children). Affiliations: RCA (1973).

Colin S. MacDonald

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, volumes 1-8 by Colin S. MacDonald, and volume 9 (online only), by Anne Newlands and Judith Parker
National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada


The National Gallery of Canada; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; Beaverbrook Art Gallery; Owens Art Gallery; Dalhousie Art Gallery; Art Gallery of Ontario; Art Gallery of Mississauga; Art Gallery of Hamilton; Art Gallery of Windsor; Winnipeg Art Gallery; MacKenzie Art Gallery; University of Lethbridge Art Gallery; National Gallery of Hungary; Musee d'art contemporain; Canada Council Art Bank; Rideau Hall; National Capital Commission; The Senate of Canada; Nova Scotia Legislature; New Brunswick Legislature; Mount St. Vincent University; King's College; Mount Allison University; Acadia University; University of New Brunswick; Concordia University; Memorial University; Confederation Center; New Brunswick Museum; CFB Halifax Officers' Mess; Peerless Carpet Corporation; Royal Bank of Canada; Bank of Nova Scotia; Bank of Montreal; Esso Resources; Irving Oil; McCain Foods; Readers Digest; The Ondaatje Corporation; Toronto City Hall; The Pasha of Marrakesh; Empire Corporation; Dominion Foundries; K & D Industries; Newfoundland Corporation; Public Works Canada; Atlantic School of Theology; Via Rail; Archdiocese of Halifax; Sun life Insurance; Mitsui Corporation; Midland Walwyn Capital; RCMP; IWK Health Centre; John F. Kennedy Library; Pierre Elliott Trudeau