Born in Toronto, Canada, Adrienne Alison’s passion for sculpture and painting began as soon as she could hold the tools. Arthur Lismer’s painting classes and adult clay building courses at the YWHA (Spadina and Bloor) inspired her to create sets for plays, build snow animal sculptures, and paint Award winning work shown at O’Keefe Center (now the Sony Center) in her early years.
Adrienne grew up in a family of artists and doctors; both her parents were painters. Her mother was also an architect and her father a professional engineer who was awarded a Bauhaus design scholarship. Surrounded by pioneering women in medicine, Adrienne naturally sought to combine both the arts and science in her own career choices.
She was one of only five students accepted annually to the prestigious University of Toronto, Faculty of Medicine, Biomedical Communications program, where she gained a profound understanding of anatomy by dissecting a complete cadaver with her first year medical classmates.
Her studies in art and science led to Adrienne being awarded a scholarship to establish and operate the Head and Neck Prosthetic Clinic at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, Toronto. During her ten years there she turned the clinic into a world class center and taught at the university. She created life-like prosthetic facial features for patients with cancer, trauma and congenital malformation.
She also established a number of firsts. She designed the first head forms of seven- and twelve-year-olds for the Canadian Standards Association for protective helmets specifically made for children, was the sole fabricator of finger prostheses in Canada, and created an ambiguous baby genitalia teaching model for babies with undifferentiated sexual organs.
In 1991, Adrienne moved to London, England and spent four years luxuriating in the rich, classical traditions of sculpting available there. She set up a portrait and figurative sculpture studio where she could continue to enjoy working directly with people as she had in the hospital. The same skills and methods apply to portraiture as to the intense sculpting of prostheses when patients sat immediately in front of her. While in London, she resumed working from the live model at Kensington & Chelsea College, took art courses, and sculpted directly from significant historical pieces on site at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The proximity of Florence gave her the opportunity to study in that mecca of classical sculpture.
Since returning from England, Adrienne has called Toronto home. She has expanded her studio to include public monuments, animal sculptures and painting. She continues to do commission work in the U.K., United States and Canada along with her own studio work. She was selected to create the Alliance of Canadian Cinema Television and Radio Artists, ACTRA Award, which each year celebrates the outstanding achievements of Canada’s most gifted actors. Her monumental figures throughout Toronto commemorate the city’s distinguished historic individuals.
Growing up in Canada, Adrienne has always been conscious of the vastness of this country and the history and strength of its people. The one constant in her life was summers spent on Georgian Bay where the familiar, ancient rock forms of the Canadian Shield, sculpted by Nature, became a permanent feature of her mental imagery.
She has worked with the Tahltan and Tlingit natives in remote areas of northern British Columbia and lived in New York as well as London, England. To her, these apparently opposite cultures and environments complement each other and Adrienne finds that she is at home in the wild as well as in the heart of the city.
Adrienne constantly strives to combine the known with the unknown. By that, she means “combining authentic anatomy/structure/form while keeping the looseness that is inherent in the clay material to create a believable yet naturally flowing sculpture.”