Sonia Cornwall

Fall Finery, 1972, Sonia Cornwall, acrylic?, 11.5" x 15.5", 2008.06.01

Sonia Cornwall (née Cowan)

Born: Kamloops BC 1919

Died: 2006

Sonia Cornwall was born in Kamloops, British Columbia to Vivien and C.G. Cowan. Her mother took an interest in the arts in the 1930s and began studying at the Banff School of Fine Arts, making friends with A.Y. Jackson. Jackson would later spend time during the summers at the Cowan's Onward Ranch. Cornwall began painting with her mother and continued as a young student, selling her first painting in 1935. However, she briefly abandoned painting when her father died. At 27 Cornwall, with her sister, attended art school at the Provincial Institute of Technology in Calgary, where Jock MacDonald was a teacher. Cornwall left after three months because she found the school curriculum unsatisfactory. She married Hugh Cornwall in 1948 and together they ran Onward Ranch, but she continued to paint with her husband's support around child-rearing hiatuses and the demands of the ranch. She was largely self-taught but made the most of resources available to her, like CBC radio programs and books. She co-founded the Station House Gallery in 1981. She exhibited her work many times. Artists with whom Cornwall came into contact throughout her career include Molly Lamb Bobak, Lilias Torrance Newton, Herbert Siebner, Joe Plaskett, Jack Hardman, Takao Tanabe, Cliff Robinson and Zelko Kujundzic.

Source: Canadian Women Artists History Initiative