The Passing of Canadian Artist Mary Wright, OSA

Mary Wright, great Canadian Artist and member of the Ontario Society of Artists since 1989, passed away on December 19, 2021. It is with heavy hearts that we say farewell and thank you. Here we have included the obituary honouring her memory. We are proud to have had Mary as a member of our society for so many years. We wish her friends, colleagues, and family our sincere condolences.

WRIGHT, Dr Mary Anthea (nee Ellis)Born in Wellington, New Zealand, the eldest of five (Juliet, Martin, Penelope, and Clemency), to parents John and F. Anthea in 1934 it is with great sadness we announce that Dr. Mary Wright passed away suddenly on December 19, 2021, in Toronto.

Mary grew up in Auckland and excelled at learning. She was athletic and a strong tennis player.

From 1952-1964 she studied ballroom dancing where she met her future husband Gordon Wright (now deceased). They married in 1954, and together won gold medals in ballroom and Latin American dancing. Mary made her own gorgeous competition dresses out of tulle or net, 30 yards in each skirt, with hand sewn sequined designs.


Mary received her B.A. in 1954, with a major in French, this was the beginning of a lifelong love of formal education. After the arrival of her three daughters, Sheryl, Elaine, and Janice, Mary went on to study for her Medical Intermediate and was accepted for a Bachelor’s in Medicine in 1961, no mean feat with three children now playing a significant role in her life.

The family moved to Dunedin so Mary could study medicine at the University of Otago. Mary’s focus and devotion to study was recognized by her achievements, including:

Medical Training

Honours:1963Scott Memorial Prize in Anatomy
Malcolm Memorial Prize in Physiology
Senior Scholarship in Medicine
1964Chamtaloup Memorial Prize in Medical Microbiology
1965Scholarship in Medicine
1966Traveling Scholarship in Medicine (first in class of 101)
Internships:Otago Hospital Board
Junior House Surgeon in 1967
Senior House Surgeon in 1968

Mary emigrated with her daughters to Canada in 1968 where she continued her medical training, specializing in Psychiatry.

Psychiatric Residency:University of Toronto January 1, 1969 – December 31, 1971
Psychoanalytic Training:Canadian Institute of Psychoanalysis (Ontario) 1971-1976
Psychiatric Qualifications:FRCPC 1971 (by examination)
DPsych, University of Toronto 1971
Member, Canadian Psychoanalytic Society 1976

Mary completed postgraduate studies at the University of Toronto (Psychiatry). She continued her studies and in 1972 began her private practice in psychotherapy followed by psychoanalysis in 1976. Mary was an avid student of Dr. Heinz Kohut. Until he died, she travelled frequently to Chicago to see him.

The Artist

Mary studied oil painting with artist Anthony Thorn from 1975-77. This led to her enrolling in the Ontario College of Art in 1979. In 1981 she was admitted to Fine Arts with Advanced standing (year 3) where she studied drawing, watercolour, colour, two-dimensional and three-dimensional design. From 1985-86 she studied sculpture with Judy Kuntz followed by study in experimental plastics with Ron McCurdy and metal structures with David Hunt from 1986-87. Following this she studied foundry techniques and processes with Art Lee, worked with wax, bronze casting, direct construction in cement.

To support her love of creating art in every medium, Mary took courses in welding, carpentry, and cabinetmaking at George Brown College from 1986-88. In 1993 she graduated from Ontario College of Art: AOCA (Associate of the Ontario College of Arts) Honours. Her work has been shown in Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Italy, and Chile in 16 solo exhibitions as well as many group and juried shows.

The Musician

Mary took up the piano later in life, where she met her long-time companion James Blight. She achieved the highest level,10, at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Mary taught herself to play bass guitar to accompany her pianist partner James. For years she sang her heart out as a soprano with the Hart House (UofT) choir, even to the point where she learned Russian so she could understand one of the songs she was singing. Mary was very adept at picking up languages.


Mary is survived by her loving daughters Sheryl (Ferriss, Caroline), Elaine (Philip) and Janice; her grandchildren Terry, Tyler, Alexandra, Ayden (Hailey), Ashley and Damon; great grandchildren Zoe and Freya.

Sadly, December 19, 2021, during the second winter of the Covid-19 pandemic, the music stopped…the singing and dancing done, the artworks hung.

Mum, Mary was an extraordinary person. We mourn our loss.

Cremation has taken place. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

We will miss you Mary.

From all of us here at the OSA