Historic paintings of Vale’s operations feature a hidden creature

About Vale

8/23/2017

Historic paintings of Vale’s operations feature a hidden creature

ArrowArrow Terence Cuneo at work in his studio / TerenceCuneo.co.uk

If you like Where’s Wally, Waldo or even Wookie (for those Star Wars fans), then you’re going to love Terence Cuneo. His oil paintings of Vale’s Ontario operations and exploration camps in northern Manitoba hang on the walls in Vale’s corporate offices. And if you look closely enough, for long enough, you might just be able to spot a mouse hidden among the miners.

This painting inspired Terence Cuneo to paint a mouse in most of his works / Vale Archive

“A mouse painting a piece of cheese was the first thing my father sold at a one-man exhibit,” the artist’s daughter, Carole Cuneo, said from her home in the county of Dorset, in south west England. “My mother said to him, ‘Why don’t you paint a mouse in all of your pictures?’ So, he did!”

Born in 1907, Terence Cuneo was a prolific British artist who painted more than 9,000 works before his death in 1996, according to his daughter. He was the official painter for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (which also featured a hidden mouse) and recorded significant World War II events in his paintings. Mining, engineering, portraits and trains were just a few of the subjects he painted.

So how did his paintings come to grace the halls of our offices in Toronto, Sudbury and Thompson?

“He was very involved with Vale (formerly Inco) because he was commissioned to do a lot of paintings for the company in the 1950s and ’60s,” said Cuneo. “You’ve got a fantastic display there – I was lucky enough to see it in person in 2003.”

Miners leaving their shift at Creighton Mine in 1955 / Vale Archive

The Vale-owned paintings give a documentarian view of the inner workings of our Operations in the middle of the twentieth century. Their descriptive titles tell us exactly what was going on as the artist was viewing the scene: Miners Leaving the Cage at the Surface of the Creighton Mine, from 1955, shows miners emerging from underground, hot and sweaty, with their shirts open and metal lunch boxes in their hands. Others, including The Electrolytic Cell House at Port Colborne Refinery from 1956 and The Frood-Stobie Open Pit at Copper Cliff from 1955 depict scenes of drilling, hammering and forging, lit by headlamps or open flames.

“He travelled the world for his art and he loved it,” said Cuneo who serves as the president of the Cuneo Society, archiving and cataloguing her father’s works, and sharing them with admirers around the world. “He always had four or five or six paintings on the go, and he advised other artists to do the same, otherwise you get bored if you only work on one thing at a time.”

Cuneo is proud of her father’s work and calls him a genius – not just because he’s her dad. Students used to pop by his studio to learn from his impressionistic style and his admirers included captains of industry and royals.

If she had to pick her favourite paintings, they would be the ones in which her father depicted animals.

“With his horses, they’re so real, you feel you want to pat them on the behind,” she laughed. “He’s done so much for the art world. I’m so proud of him. He gave us a wonderful, wonderful life.”


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Historic paintings of Vale’s operations feature a hidden creature