Raised on Toronto's Centre Island, Hodgson had a childhood filled with activity, taking part in both water sports on Lake Ontario and art classes that were organized by Group of Seven member Arthur Lismer at what was then known as the Art Gallery of Toronto, now the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Thomas Sherlock Hodgson was a painter and commercial artist who was born in Toronto, Canada, where he lived most of his life. He died in Peterborough, Ontario, about 100 km from Toronto. His mediums were oil, acrylic, watercolour, gouache, silkscreen, charcoal and mixed mediums. His subjects were non-objective abstracts, landscapes, nudes, figures and portraits. His styles were abstract expressionism, lyrical abstraction, realism and pop art.
In addition to studying art at Central Technical School and at the Ontario College of Art, Hodgson served two years in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Also a member of the Canadian Olympic canoe team, he competed in Helsinki in 1952 and in Melbourne in 1956 and remained a competitive canoe racer for much of his life.
In the 1950s, Hodgson and two of his Central Tech classmates, Kazuo Nakamura and Harold Town, were among a group of similarly minded Ontario artists who were growing increasingly frustrated with Toronto's stuffy cultural and artistic establishment.
In October 1953, Hodgson and Nakamura took part in an interesting exhibit spearheaded by one of their painter colleagues, William Ronald, who also did window displays for the former Simpsons department store in downtown Toronto.
e was also a member of the Ontario Society of Artists (1954), the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour (1954), the Canadian Group of Painters (1956), and an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy (1962). It should also be noted that during the Second World War he served overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was also an accomplished athlete who was on the Canadian Olympic paddling team in 1952 (Helsinki, Finland) and in 1956 (Melbourne, Australia).
Ronald's Abstracts at Home exhibit showcased the work of Hodgson, Nakamura, Alexandra Luke, Jack Bush, Oscar Cahen and Ray Mead amid rooms of furniture displays at the Queen Street department store. His goal was to show Canadians that abstract art had a place inside the average home.
The participants of the exhibit felt a kinship and decided to meet again the following month, adding four more to their collective: Town, Hortense Gordon, Walter Yarwood and Jock Macdonald.
Town suggested the name Painters Eleven for the new collective and for the next few years, the group of avant-garde abstract painters met, exhibited together regularly around Toronto and throughout Ontario and helped usher in Toronto's acceptance of modernism.
Unlike their predecessors in the Group of Seven, the members of the Painters Eleven did not subscribe to a particular aesthetic in their art. Spanning in age from their mid-20s to nearly 70 years old, the members had no formal leader or structure and, for the most part, remained loosely affiliated.
"Instead of having a grand manifesto … this was a group that got together to join forces so that they could get exhibitions, try to sell their work," Jansma said.
"They decided to take the bull by the horns and put their own destinies together."
Despite battling against anti-modernist Toronto critics in subsequent years, the group eventually helped open Canadian eyes to modern art. However, after Cahen died in a car accident in 1956 and Ronald and Mead relocated to New York and Montreal, the Painters Eleven began to grow apart. In October 1960, the remaining members voted to disband.
After the group separated, Hodgson did some consulting work as a commercial advertising artist and taught at OCA from 1968 through 1973. He also self-published the book Creativity and Change in 1975.
Hodgson's work has been featured in more than 20 exhibitions, including at the AGO, Calgary's Glenbow Museum, the Galérie d'arts contemporains de Montréal, the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
His work, and that of other Painters Eleven artists, is also featured at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. It was founded by collective member Luke and her husband, who was an heir to the McLaughlin Carriage Company fortune.