Creator: Georgette Leblanc
Nominator: Madeleine Blanchard
Georgette Leblanc’s highly original poetic works Alma (published in 2007) and Amédé (published in 2010) present the Acadian communities of Baie Sainte-Marie, mainly from the perspectives of two memorable characters, yet opening onto multiple and layered perspectives that transcend their times and location. Written in a simple yet vivacious and lyrical style, reflecting the “Acadjoune” speech of the region, these poem-stories move well beyond an Acadian folkloric cliché to attain a mythic ambience, and have been favourably compared with the work of Antoinine Maillet, Michel Tremblay and anglophone Nova Scotian writers such as Ernest Buckler and George Elliot Clarke. Both the multiple prize-winning Alma and the recently published Amédé have become bestsellers in Quebec and the Atlantic region, and have won acclaim in poetry festivals in France, Belgium and Canada.
Brief bio: Georgette Leblanc was born in Pointe-de-l’Èglise on Nova Scotia’s Baie Saint-Marie where she currently lives and works. She attended Université Sainte-Anne (BA 1999) and holds and MA (2003) and Doctorate (2007) in French Studies from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, US. Her projects range through poetry, performance, humor, acting and theatre design, winning numerous award nominations and prizes. She has taught creative literature, popular Acadian Theatre, and lectured and presented her poetic work in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, France and Belgium.
Creator: Graeme Patterson
Nominator: Ray Cronin
Graeme Patterson’s Grudge Match encompasses a multi-faceted sculptural installation and a stop-motion animated film. Linking an autobiographical reminiscence of his long lost childhood friend with an imaginary freestyle wrestling match between the friends, Patterson’s installation takes the form of an oversized bunk-bed (housing a miniature gymnasium and other carefully crafted scenarios) that simultaneously acts as a resonant object in itself and as the set for the animated film. This engaging work displays a technical mastery equal to the size of its vision, adroitly manipulating scale and time, superhero fantasies and boyhood memories, combining disparate parts into a fully-realised and satisfying whole. Grudge Match was created for the 2009 Sobey Art Award shortlist exhibition, for which Patterson was the Atlantic Region finalist.
Brief bio: Graeme Patterson was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in 1980 and currently resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He studied at Dundas Valley School of Art (Ontario), the University of Saskatchewan, and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (BFA 2002). His multi-disciplinary installations have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across Canada and his work is held in private and public art collections, including the National Gallery of Canada. He was the 2009 Sobey Award Finalist for the Atlantic Region.
Creator: Peter Anthony Togni
Nominator: Barbara Butler
Peter Togni’s Lamentatio Jeremiae Prophetae is a concerto for bass clarinet and choir written in five movements for virtuoso soloist Jeff Reilly and the Elmer Iseler Singers, conducted by Lydia Adams. In this profoundly affecting work, Togni demonstrates a mastery of the contemporary school of choral composition (exemplified by Arvo Pärt and Henryk Gorecki), and pushes its boundaries further in a tightly woven structure of open and closed improvisations for the instrumentalist and sustained meditations of notated choral passages. Its unique combination of voices transmutes the ancient Biblical text into a universal and contemporary tale of grief meeting hope. Premiered in 2007, toured throughout Nova Scotia in 2008, and broadcast many times by CBC radio and BBC, the work was recorded at All Saints Cathedral in Halifax and has recently been released internationally on the prestigious ECM label.
Brief bio: Peter-Anthony Togni was born in Pembroke, Ontario and now resides in Halifax. He studied organ and composition at the University of British Columbia and at the Schola Cantorum in Paris, France. For 20 years he has been a broadcaster for CBC Radio 2 and currently hosts CBC’s Choral Concert. He has received numerous commissions for choral, keyboard and chamber works, as well as film scores, and has toured Canada and Europe as a solo organist and with his trio Sanctuary. In 2006 he was nominated for a Juno award as Classical Composer of the Year.
Creator: Alan Syliboy
Nominator: Dee Appleby
Allan Syliboy’s 30-metre long mural People of the Dawn was commissioned by the Vancouver Olympic Committee for permanent display at the new Trout Lake Community Centre in Vancouver. Drawing on the artist’s repertoire of images inspired by traditional Mi’kmaq petroglyphs, this vibrant work has a bicoastal address and culturally specific symbolism that is enhanced by the clarity and scale of the twelve-panel design. Painted large in saturated pigment, Syliboy’s graphic images propel the ancient narratives of land and sea as if through space and time. The work represents a visual culmination of Syliboy’s lifelong exploration of Mi’kmaq culture, and it is particularly fitting that this East Coast artistic expression finds a permanent home in a West Coast Centre that includes so many First Nations communities.
Brief bio: Alan Syliboy is a well-known Mi’kmaq artist based in Milbrook First Nation near Truro, Nova Scotia. He studied privately with Maliseet artist Shirley Bear and then attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. His work has been shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions at home and abroad, has had a number of commissions for art installations, designed a coin for the Canadian Mint, illustrated books, sat on art juries and taught a number of workshops and courses. His work is represented in private, corporate and public art collections.
Creator: Allen Cole
Nominator: Mary Lou Martin
Rockbound is a musical play composed and written by Allen Cole and produced and presented by Two Planks and a Passion Theatre (premiering in July 2009). Cole’s brilliant adaptation of Frank Parker Day’s 1928 novel about two feuding fishing families on a Nova Scotian island combines gritty dialogue, lyrical solos and strongly rhythmic ensembles to drive the story forward. Gripping and pungent, the work exudes authenticity in its portrayal of this Atlantic community. Its main characters are well-defined by individuated vocal lines, while its small (but mighty) cast is economically deployed in instrumental and choral groups that seamlessly integrate the contrasting events – romantic, humorous, tragic — of the drama. Rockbound was nominated for seven, and won five, Merritt Awards for excellence in Nova Scotian theatre in 2010.
Brief bio: Alan Cole was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and currently resides in Toronto where he teaches musical Theatre at Ryerson University. He has worked across Canada variously as a composer (of opera, musical theatre, film scores, incidental music), as well as a lyricist and writer on musical theatre. Among numerous awards, Cole’s work has been nominated for 15 Dora Awards (winning five), Best Film Score (Atlantic Film Festival 2003) and five Merritt Awards for Rockbound. Two Planks and a Passion Theatre was originally a small but innovative itinerant theatre company based in rural Nova Scotia, and now presents larger-scaled outdoor summer Theatre at Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in Canning, Nova Scotia.