It is a unique privilege to witness a near-lifetime’s work by an artist, let alone being able to hold it in your hand. For Tom Forrestall, the roots of his practice as one of Canada’s most respected artists begins in the pages of books like these – now a collection of more than 330 sketchbooks that span 65 years, and that continue to grow by pages every day and volumes every month. These books, part of a gift to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, are a sampling of his entire sketchbook collection, and we are fortunate and honoured to be the stewards of such a significant artistic treasure.
Forrestall’s practice of rigorously using sketchbooks to capture visual inspirations began as a teenager in Middleton, Nova Scotia, in the early 1950s. Since then, he has meticulously carried such a book with him at almost all times, laying line and colour to paper to work out study concepts, inspire his more substantial artistic works, or simply record what he was seeing at that particular moment.
As his son William, also an artist, asserts, his father’s personal sketchbooks “are one of the most remarkable collections of artist’s notebooks in the world.” Forrestall’s dedication to studying his environment through these pages attests to his commitment to reflecting on our world, and to his boundless creativity.Tom Forrestall – Sketchbooks of a Lifetime