Creator: John Macnab
Nominator: Susan Hanrahan, on behalf of the NS Designer Crafts Council
CSDC 3-8 (Compound Spiral Double Cone No. 3, 8 Sided) is a 25-foot long spiral sculpture turned from red spruce. Suspended horizontally, it presents a floating form of lyrical grace and simplicity that belies the complexity of its production and its remarkable cross-disciplinary origins. John Macnab combined his wood-turning background and engineering skills to invent a 20-foot vertical lathe capable of turning large-scale sculptures to complicated formulae. With this unique tool, Mcnab has been able to re-think the craft tradition and, drawing on his fascination with mathematics, science and the spiral growth of natural forms (from seashells to galaxies), to produce a powerful and elegant work that bridges the gap between industrial precision and creative expression.
Brief bio: John Macnab has lived and worked in Nova Scotia since 1970. A graduate of the NS College of Geographic Sciences, he is largely self-taught as a wood-turner and machinist. His exquisite turned sculptures have been shown in galleries, art fairs, and industrial design exhibitions across the continent, and his Halifax studio has become a site exemplifying the creative relationship between tool and form. CSDC 3-8 was first exhibited in SOFA [Sculptural Objects and Functional Art], Chicago in 2008, and in the Port Loggia Gallery, NSCAD University, in 2009.
Creators: Jennifer Overton, Scott Burke, Rejean Cournoyer, Denyse Karn, Michael Doherty and Bruce MacLennan
Nominator: Claudia Buckley
God’s Middle Name presents a fast-paced series of vignettes that unflinchingly explore a mother’s multiple challenges of living with an autistic child and her intense emotional journey from denial to acceptance. Based on Jennifer Overton’s book Snapshots of Autism, this brave production is the result of six talented and experienced theatre artists working very effectively together. Frank and unsentimental, informative without being didactic, deeply moving yet often playful and funny, the work tackles personal, serious subject-matter in a bold, creative manner. Drawing on a range of theatrical genres, from vaudeville through Jeopardy-style TV programs to crime thrillers, the economical staging blends lighting, music, costumes and set into a seamless, engaging and affirmative production.
Brief bio: The six artists—Jennifer Overton: playwright and actor; Scott Burke: director, dramaturge; Rejean Cournoyer: actor; Denyse Karn: set, costume design and producer; Michael Doherty: original music, sound design; Bruce MacLennan, lighting design—make up the collective In Good Company that was responsible for the production of this play. They are all established theatre professionals at the height of their careers, with strong reputations in the community (several also teach in Dalhousie University’s Theatre Department) and each has an extensive body of work. The play’s first presentation was in Halifax in 2006; it has since toured regionally and nationally, most recently in Newfoundland (2009).
Creator: Neil Forrest
Nominator: Peter Henry
Neil Forrest’s Mandible is an innovative, large-scale ceramic sculpture suspended from the gallery ceiling by an integrated tensile system. Its use of lead glazed stoneware on such an impressive scale immediately engages the viewer and challenges traditional boundaries between craft, architecture and fine art. Forrest’s lengthy, sophisticated involvement with ceramic theory and practice and his exploration of biomorphic forms and natural systems of organization (such as rhizomes and hiving activities), has led him to create multi-part projects, of which Mandible is the most recent and, arguably, most accomplished: a sculptural installation with a fascinating, unsettling presence, whose surfaces, rich hues and organic references elicit a complex, visceral response from the viewer.
Brief bio: Neil Forrest is currently Head of Ceramics at NSCAD University, where he has taught since the 1980s. Educated at York University and Sheridan College in Toronto, Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan and Alfred University in New York, Forrest has gained an international recognition for integrating ceramic practice into architectural, design and fine art practices. Mandible was exhibited in the exhibition “Perils of the Sublime” in Arizona State University Architecture Design Gallery in 2009.
Creator: Susan Feindel
Nominator: Ingrid Jenkner
Susan Feindel’s installation See Below presents an immersive experience of the ocean floor, re-enacted through a group of huge black and white painted canvases (based on sonar side-scan imagery) covering the floor of the dimly-lit gallery, accompanied by small pin-pricked map drawings illuminated from beneath and an ambient sound-scape recorded with Norwegian marine sediment. Feindel’s extensive research for this project includes several guest residencies on oceanographic research vessels. Courageously original in conception and execution, the installation combines science, technology and art, dramatically invoking, for example, the scars of scallop dragging and trawling and the fragility of the deep ocean environment off Canada’s Eastern continental shelf. In this mature and affecting work Feindel offers a total sensory experience that is both locally and globally significant.
Brief bio: Susan Feindel obtained her BFA from Mount Allison University in 1966 and she has been making art, mainly in Nova Scotia and Ottawa, since then. Initially involved in landscape but in recent years more focused on marine environments, she has joined research expeditions to observe the high arctic, the deep ocean and other threatened sites. Her works have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Canada and abroad and extensively reviewed. See Below was exhibited in Mount Saint Vincent University Art Gallery in 2009.
Creator: Garry Neill Kennedy
Nominator: Ray Cronin
Garry Neill Kennedy’s The Colours of Citizen Arar is a powerful, provocative wall painting that occupied the Zwicker Gallery at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia for nine months in 2007/8. Dramatically filling the space with intense vertical bands of colour, the work’s more sinister references slowly cohered out of the black shadows of the superimposed text: the colours were named in descriptions of the bruises, humiliations and instruments of torture experienced by Canadian citizen Maher Arar during his infamous interrogation in Syria. Kennedy’s large, conceptually challenging wall paintings, all employing the “Superstar Shadow” font, deal with issues of power in culture; however, due to the tension between its initial visual seductiveness and underlying tragic referent, this monumental yet evanescent work is his most overtly political and arguably most poignant.
Brief bio: Ontario-born Garry Neill Kennedy came to Nova Scotia in 1967 to head the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, establishing it as one of the most prominent art schools in North America. Stepping down as President in 1990, he remains a full professor at the College. Kennedy’s career as an internationally exhibited and critically acclaimed artist is equally stellar. His visually arresting and conceptually demanding works have garnered many significant awards and honours over the years. The Colours of Maher Arar was exhibited from June 2007 to March 2008.