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Kamloops, BC, 1919
Cariboo Region, BC, 2006
Biography synopsis
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 twenty-seven 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.
Media used
Calgary Institute of Technology and Art, 1946 - ? (under Jock MacDonald)
Cariboo Art Society
File & Archive locations
University of British Columbia - Fine Arts Library
National Gallery of Canada, ON - Library and Archives
Canadian Women Artists History Initiative Documentation Centre, QC
Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, ON

Writings about
Fowler, Julie. Cariboo Cowboy: The Life and Art of Sonia Cornwall (1919-2006) Wells, British Columbia: Island Mountain Arts Gallery, 2008
Godley, Elizabeth. "Sonia Cornwall's Cariboo" British Columbia Magazine vol. 45, no. 4 (2003): 22(6).
Truscott, Eileen. "Sonia Cornwall" British Columbia Historical News vol. 33, no. 4 (2001): 36-7.
Westbridge Fine Art. Sonia Cornwall: Fifty Years at the Onward Ranch: A Pioneer's View of the Cariboo Vancouver, British Columbia: Westbridge Fine Art Ltd., 2001
Williams Lake Tribune. "Tribute to Artist Sonia Cornwall Monday" Williams Lake Tribune 26 Sept, 2008: B1.

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