BC honours legendary marine artist

John Horton

John Horton

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Renowned marine artist John Horton has been appointed to the Order of British Columbia.

In an announcement on Aug. 3, Chancellor of the Order, Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin named Horton as one of this year’s 13 recipients.

The 84-year-old resident of Tsawwassen, B.C., has produced over 1,500 paintings including commissioned works featuring Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) vessels and sailors.

Horton said being named to the Order came as a complete surprise.

“It was very humbling because I am joining such a wonderful group of people who have done some incredible things. There have been so many other people who have helped inspire me and my art throughout my career and the navy is a huge part of that, from Admirals to Able Seaman.”

Horton says his email in-box was flooded with hundred of congratulatory emails after he was named to the Order, including one from Rear-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie and former Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, VAdm (Retired) Ron Lloyd.

This year, 160 British Columbians were nominated for the award, the province’s highest form of recognition. A total of 460 people have been appointed to the Order of B.C in its 31-year history.

This year’s recipients were selected by a seven-member independent advisory council.

“Your many contributions have enriched the lives of British Columbians and helped make our province and even better place,” read the proclamation by B.C. Premier John Horgan, which accompanies the award.

Artist is born

Born in England, Horton attended Poole & Bournemouth Schools of Art when he was 16 in the years following the Second World War.

In 1966, he and his family moved to Vancouver, B.C., where he opened his own practice as an architectural artist.

After more than half a century of painting oil on canvass, Horton has an impressive catalogue of work – from picturesque seascapes that often include fishing boats, tugs and trawlers, to the warships and submarines of the navy, past and present.

The artist is also former sailor of the Royal Navy. Horton spent approximately 11 years as a reservist and regular force in the years following the Second World War, which explains his fondness of the navy.

“Over the years, I have made so many friends in the navy who have helped inspire me and keep my interest in the navy alive. I guess it’s like the old saying: You can take the sea away from the man but you can’t take the man away from the sea.”

Critical Acclaim

The Canadian navy has brought him aboard ships during the 2004 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise and a deployment for Operation Apollo to the Arabian Gulf in 2002.

In 2010, Horton won a national artist competition for the commissioning of three paintings in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the RCN.

Some of his other notable naval historical works include a series of 50 paintings depicting Royal Navy Captain George Vancouver’s famous 18th-century expedition entitled Re:Discovery 92. To get inspiration, he retraced Vancouver’s 1792 to 1794 voyage aboard a 52-foot former barge of the United States Navy, which became his floating studio where he travelled the B.C. coastline, northward to Alaska.

In 2013, Horton designed a five-ounce gold coin for the Canadian Mint, a rendition of the victory of HMS Shannon over USS Chesapeake in the War of 1812, and in 2019 a coin commemorating Captain James Cook’s arrival at Nootka Sound

His artwork is also the subject of a hardcover book written by renowned marine author Peter Vassilopoulos entitled John Horton: The Mariner Artist. Like many others in the marine and art communities, Vassilopoulos raves about Horton’s meticulous attention to detail in his paintings.

“John’s marine art captures today and yesterday – people, places and events as we know and remember them,” says Vassilopoulos. “While there are many artists who paint marine scenes, few have Horton’s ability to delineate accurately the architecture of a ship.”

Vancouver Sun columnist Bryan Pybus once remarked that Horton’s attention to detail and accuracy is so legendary that anyone viewing one of his paintings can quickly determine “the season, time of day, the atmosphere and even the temperature.”

Horton admits his obsession for perfection in his artwork and once said: “I’m never satisfied with what I’ve done. Every brushstroke I do must be better than the last one.”

Due to social distancing
protocol, Horton says he and the other recipients likely won’t receive their awards until September 2021

For more information about Horton and his work visit his website: https://johnhorton.ca/

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Filed Under: Top Stories

About the Author: The Lookout Newspaper can trace its history back to April 1943 when CFB Esquimalt’s first newspaper was published. Since then, Lookout has grown into the award winning source for Pacific Navy News. Leading the way towards interactive social media reach, we are a community resource newspaper growing a world wide audience.

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