2016 Jury Speech

Author and Spokesperson: Katie Belcher

Your Honours, distinguished guests, invités d’honneur:

I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. Wela’lin. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” which Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples first signed with the British Crown in 1752. The treaties did not deal with surrender of lands and resources but in fact recognized Mi’kmaq and Maliseet title and established the rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations.

My name is Katie Belcher, and it is my privilege to be the Spokesperson of the Jury for this year’s Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award.

Je suis honoré d’être le porte-parole du jury ce soir pour le prix du chef-d’oeuvre du Lieutenant-Gouverneur de la Nouvelle-Écosse.

As an artist and arts administrator, I’ve participated in various juries, from project selection at artist-run centres, to foundations, to granting juries at all governmental levels. In all of these competitions, I’ve found that the cream evidently rises. We come quickly to agreement on the most artistically meritorious, and spend most of the time discussing works that lay closer to the line. What I found most satisfying about this jury process was the opportunity to have this rich discussion in two stages. First to agree upon the cream of the crop, and next the in-depth discussion to select a winner from among these powerful works—each beautifully crafted, expertly presented, and conceptually compelling.

Our analysis was fueled by curiosity about each work and it’s relevance in its specific context. This award differs from many other arts awards in that it is earned, not by a particular artist, but by a particular work. The work can be in any artistic discipline or genre and may be the product of an individual, group or collaborative team. By definition, the Masterwork must be of outstanding quality, exhibiting originality and artistic merit, and having significant impact in terms of public reception and critical response from its peers.

Par définition, l’oeuvre doit être d’une qualité exceptionnelle, témoignant à la fois d’originalité et de mérite artistique. Elle doit, de plus, faire preuve d’un impact significatif en termes de réception par le public et la réponse critique de ses pairs.

The arm’s-length, multidisciplinary Masterworks jury is selected in response to each year’s specific selection of nominated works, and jurors follow a rigorous process of evaluation in order to reach consensus on the five finalists. This is no simple task, either in the evaluation, or the discussion that follows around the jury table. I was impressed by the collegiality of our jury process, and the level of discussion reached not only in relationship to each work, but also the various disciplines and practices of the artists. My colleagues included Cory Bowles, Tim Crofts, Charles Doucette, and Ann-Marie Kerr. Each juror brought a range of experience, passion, and insight, and I was pleased to be among them.

We extend a thank you to the nominators, who embraced the daunting task of recommending each work, taking time to address the merits of each piece, and advocate for each artist.

Nous offrons, pour finir,œnos sincères félicitations aux créateurs des cinq oeuvres finalistes. Vous avez accompli quelque chose que beaucoup d’entre nous, les artistes, nous efforçons d’atteindre : Créer un travail si remarquable qu’il provoque un avancement dans notre pratique, notre discipline, de la société, ou pour un seul individu. Ce fut un plaisir de se prononcer sur cette gamme diverse de travaux, avec des capacités artistiques, techniques et conceptuelles élevées.

Last, but not least, a heartfelt congratulations to the creators of all five finalist works. You’ve accomplished something many of us artists strive to achieve. To create a work so outstanding that it prompts a significant shift—for our practice, our discipline, society, or for a single individual. It was a pleasure to adjudicate such a range of works, and with high artistic,  technical, and conceptual abilities.

All five are master works, and though only one can be the overall winner tomorrow, I congratulate you on behalf of the jury, and thank you for your artistic contribution.