Born in Toronto, with a degree in geography from the University of Toronto, Bateman taught high school for 20 years, including two years in Nigeria. He travelled around the world in 1957/58, increasing his appreciation of cultural and natural heritage. Since leaving teaching in 1976 to paint full-time, he has travelled widely with his artist/conservationist wife Birgit to many remote natural areas.
Robert Bateman has been a keen artist and naturalist from his early days. He has always painted wildlife and nature, beginning with a representational style, moving through impressionism and cubism to abstract expressionism. In his early 30’s he moved back to realism as a more suitable way to express the particularity of the planet. It is this style that has made him one of the foremost artists depicting the world of nature.
In the ’70s and early ’80s, Bateman’s work began to receive critical acclaim and to attract an enormous following. His work is featured in many public and private collections, and several art museums, including the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, WY. Bateman has had many one-man museum shows throughout North America, including an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Recently, the retrospective show, The Art of Robert Bateman, toured Canada and the USA for two years, and a one-man show toured four cities in Russia.
Mr. and Mrs. Bateman visited Salt Spring several times and moved from Ontario to Salt Spring Island in 1986. Their two sons went to Fulford Elementary School. They’ve also been supporters of many organizations here on the island such as Lady Minto Hospital, The Salt Spring Concervancy, and ArtSpring.
The Robert Bateman Centre on the Inner Harbour of Victoria, BC is a place where insights into the life and philosophies of this internationally known artist and naturalist can be explored. There also will be an education department involved in active outreach in the Bateman Foundation’s efforts to reconnect people to the world of nature. He says, “I can’t conceive of anything being more varied and rich and handsome than the planet earth. And its crowning beauty is the natural world. I want to soak it up, to understand it as well as I can, and to absorb it . . . and then I’d like to put it together and express it in my painting. This is the way I want to dedicate my life.”
Books about his life and art have had sales of over 1,000,000 copies. He has also been the subject of several films and television programs. His honours, awards and honorary doctorates are numerous including Officer of the Order of Canada. It is in honour of Bateman’s contribution to art and conservation that one public and two secondary schools have been named after him; as well, he has been awarded 12 honorary doctorates.
- The Art of Robert Bateman, biography by Ramsay Derry, Madison Press Books, 1981
- The World of Robert Bateman, biography by Ramsay Derry, Madison Press Books, 1984
- Robert Bateman: An Artist in Nature, biography by Rick Archbold, Madison Press Books, 1990
- Robert Bateman: Natural Worlds, text by Rick Archbold, Madison Press Books, 1996
- Thinking Like a Mountain, by Robert Bateman & Rick Archbold, Penguin Books, 2000
- Birds, by Robert Bateman & Kathryn Dean, Madison Press Books, 2002
- Bateman: New Works, Greystone Books, 2010
- Hope & Wild Apples by Robert Bateman, Bateman Foundation, 2012
- Safari, by Robert Bateman and Rick Archbold, Madison Press Books, 1998
- Backyard Birds by Robert Bateman with Ian Coutts, Madison Press Books, 2005
- Birds of Prey by Robert Bateman with Nancy Kovacs, Madison Press Books, 2007
- Polar Worlds by Robert Bateman with Nancy Kovacs, Madison Press Books, 2008
- Vanishing Habitats by Robert Bateman with Nancy Kovacs, Madison Press Books, 2010
For further information visit Robert’s website at http://robertbateman.ca/.