Kathleen Hart

Other names: Kathleen Martha (Hart) Ellis, Kay Hart

“There was nothing she wouldn’t tackle.”
– Kathleen Hart’s niece, Janet Holt, describing her aunt.
(The London Free Press, September 25, 2012)

Kathleen Ellis, better known by her birth name, Hart, was born in Byron, Ontario in 1916.
A dedicated and respected artist, Kathleen (or Kay) Hart was born without forearms and with legs that ended above her knees. Hart was not fond of using prosthetic arms and instead painted standing close to the canvas, holding the brush between her arms.

Hart began receiving private art lessons from Toronto, Ontario artist Gordon Payne in 1945, who described her as having “a world of natural ability.” In 1947, after approximately 30 weeks of training with Payne, 32 of Hart’s works were included in a group exhibition at Laing Fine Art Galleries in Toronto. Art Dealer G. Blair Laing commented that “her skill with the brush [was] truly outstanding.”

In 1949, Hart’s first solo exhibition opened at the Camera Clubs Room on Dundas Street in London, Ontario. This event resonated with the London art community and led to Hart’s success throughout Canada. Ten years later, Hart was declared Woman of the Year by the London Business and Professional Women’s Association.

Best known for her floral studies, in later years Kathleen Hart also painted china.
She passed away in 2012, in Strathroy, Ontario.

Biography by Meghan O’Neill


Brown, Vanessa and Jason Dickson. London: 150 Cultural Moments. Windsor: Biblioasis, 2017.

“Girl Conquers Handicap Wins Acclaim for Art” The Globe and Mail, October 4, 1947.

MacDonald, Colin S. “Hart-Ellis, Kathleen.” A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 2,
G – Jackson. Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd., 1968.

Pitcher, Rosemary. “Around Ontario: Handicapped Woman Paints Without Hands.”
The Globe and Mail, June 1, 1963. Online via Proquest <www.proquest.com>.

Poole, Nancy Geddes. The Art of London, 1830-1980. London, Ontario: Blackpool Press, 1984.

Weber, Alex. “Lively painter worked around her disabilities \ Determination: Kathleen Hart Ellis showed tenacity throughout her life” The London Free Press, September 25, 2012.

“Kathleen Martha (Hart) Ellis.” Your Life Moments (http://yourlifemoments.ca/), The London Free Press (London, Ontario).


Daum, Oli. “Woman Successful Artist Despite of Handicaps.” Ottawa Citizen, July 4, 1956. https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2194&dat=19560714&id=osgxAAAAIBAJ&sjid=HuMFAAAAIBAJ&pg=4445,2552147&hl=en.

Video: British Pathé (Newsreel, 1948)

Please note that this video is a newsreel from 1948.
Some terms and descriptions used would not be used today.

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