Thomas DeVany Forrestall, C.M., O.N.S., B.F.A. LL.D., RCA was born in Middleton Nova Scotia, in 1936. Forrestall's family later moved to Dartmouth which allowed him to attend Saturday morning art classes at the Nova Scotia College of Art in Halifax in the 1940s. In 1954, Forrestall was awarded a scholarship to the Fine Arts department at Mount Allison University, where he studied with Lawren P. Harris and Alex Colville. He graduated in 1958 and received one of the first Canada Council grants for independent study which provided him with the opportunity to travel throughout Europe. Upon his return he became assistant curator of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. He has been a freelance artist since 1960.
Forrestall’s art has been classified as Magic Realism – an imprecise term often used to describe the work of a coterie of east-coast Canadian painters who emerged after the Second World War (Alex Colville, Christopher Pratt, Mary Pratt). Although their geographic roots, styles and vocabularies were similar, these artists applied themselves differently, each adapting naturalism in a personal way.
As an artist, Tom Forrestall is one of the leading figures associated with the visual arts of the Maritime region. His work has been exhibited and represented in every major public collection in the region and beyond, as well as in solo exhibitions in many prominent galleries worldwide. His art has been reproduced in numerous histories of Canadian art and is featured in ‘High Realism in Canada’ the 1974 book by Paul Duval. Two monographs on his paintings have been published, ‘Shaped by This Land (1974) and ‘Returning the Favour: Vision For Vision (1992).