Kim Ondaatje

"I decided that what I would do with the remaining years of my life would be to work with the environment." (1999)

In the 1960s Ondaatje gave up teaching literature and turned to the visual arts, painting and exhibiting her work, publishing books of her photographs, making art films, teaching art and providing lodging for numerous artists and writers.

Shortly after the late Jack Chambers created CARFAC (Canadian Artists' Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens), he enlisted Kim Ondaatje and Tony Urquhart in the cause of defending the rights of professional artists. For many years, the three crossed the country, meeting with artists and representatives from galleries and museums to establish a fee structure similar to the one used by actors and musicians. Their legal and financial victories marked an ideological turning point by placing the artist at the heart of cultural policy debates. Neither Ondaatje nor Urquhart had any training in cultural affairs administration - were in fact developing their own artistic careers.

Today she devotes her time to landscaping her property, her "latest canvas." She lives in Verona, Ontario. She is the winner of 2009 Governor General's in Visual and Media Arts, CARFAC Outstanding Contribution Award.

Photo: Martin Lipman