Halifax, Nova Scotia/K’jipuktuk,Mi’kma‘ki – Three works have been selected as Finalists for the 2020 Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award: Hope and Survival: The Halifax Explosion Memorial Quilt (Laurie Swim); This Kind of Thinking Does No Good (Alison Smith); and Tepkik (Jordan Bennett).
Established in 2005, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award is given to a work of art that exemplifies mastery across four distinct criteria – originality, artistic maturity, impact, and contribution to Nova Scotia. In 2020, four Nova Scotian artists from across the province formed a multidisciplinary jury working at arm’s-length from the Foundation to select the shortlisted works. The Masterworks Arts Award is open to work from all creative mediums, and as such, the Foundation ensures that jury members represent a broad spectrum of artistic disciplines, and all are highly experienced in their respective fields. Names of the jurors will be made public once the Winner is announced in the fall.
The Masterworks Arts Award is the largest cultural award based in Nova Scotia and this year will award $31,000 to the Creators of three finalist works. Each work on the shortlist is awarded a $3,000 Finalist Prize. The Creator of one of the Finalist works will then receive the $22,000 Winner Prize, for a grand total of $25,000. Descriptions of the Finalists are enclosed below.
The Masterworks Foundation invites the public to celebrate these works and their Creators during the Artists & Conversation panel discussion where they will speak about their creative processes. This free event will take place later this autumn (date and location to be announced). The winning work will be announced in the fall as part of the Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala. The Award is generously sponsored by Arts Nova Scotia, The Craig Foundation, and individual donors.
For further information, including print-quality photos, contact:
Erin Taylor, Administrator
2020 Masterworks Award Finalists
(In alphabetical order by work)
Hope and Survival: The Halifax Explosion Memorial Quilt
Creator: Laurie Swim
Nominator: Tom McFall
Hope and Survival is a large-scale quilted textile depicting narrative and factual events of the 1917 Halifax Explosion, created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the event. The artistic maturity, exemplary craftsmanship, and sheer scale of the work unanimously impressed the jurors, as did its unique parallel employment as a historical “document” and artwork.
The piece demonstrates a thoughtfully researched and intentionally conceived impact across Nova Scotia, which began long before the final product was enjoyed by thousands at installations across the province. When beginning Hope and Survival, creator Laurie Swim engaged over 150 volunteers, including descendants of the explosion victims, to bead nearly 2000 known names of those killed by the Explosion in Braille onto 172 fabric panes featured in the work. These community-created panels alongside Swim’s own masterfully sewn narrative illustrations result in an intimate and communal memorial which grants volunteers and viewers alike a more reflective, meditative, and accessible remembrance experience.
As the jury commented: “Hope and Survival is poignant in that it is almost like wrapping a blanket around the event as an act of healing – exactly what a memorial should be.”
Creator: Jordan Bennett
Nominator: Greg Hill, National Gallery of Canada
Tepkik is a 100-foot long public art structure comprised of Polysilk fabric panels and highly reflective surface elements. A Mi’kmaq word for night, Tepkik transports its viewers to the realm of the night sky with its vast, colourful, sweeping expanse, incorporating interpretations of Mi’kmaq petroglyphs depicting the Milky Way found in Kejimkujik National Park. Creator Jordan Bennett sought to create a visual representation of the intersection of ancestral and contemporary Mi’kmaq traditions and the jury commended this successful and beautiful execution of that synergy.
By blending traditional Mi’kmaq patterns and motifs with modern materials, the internationally exhibited work invites viewers to consider Mi’kmaq traditions in a present-day forum and see them not as relics of the past, but rather as a living culture with a place in the modern world. The jury was also struck by how some of the modern media used to construct Tepkik, namely the traffic signage materials, inspire deeper conversations about sovereignty and land ownership in current-day Nova Scotia and Canada.
As the jury commented: “Tepkik is simultaneously specific and universal – it takes the reverence for the night sky shared across cultures and uses it to hold space for the past and future of Mi’kmaq traditions.”
This Kind of Thinking Does No Good
Creator: Alison Smith
Nominator: Annick MacAskill, Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia
This Kind of Thinking Does No Good is a collection of poetry exploring unique perspectives on rural and domestic life. The jury praised the work for its maturity of voice, variation in form, and mastery of language. Creator Alison Smith undoubtedly has command of her discipline.
While the subject matter may be familiar, the work does not present a typical perception of bucolic Nova Scotia. Instead, it provides a valuable glimpse into a different way of rural life. Addressing matters such as childhood, labour, motherhood, domestic violence, and the prison system, This Kind of Thinking Does No Good courageously and intelligently speaks to issues out of a setting wherein a culture of silence tends to be the norm. The jury saw the work as having the ability to bring hope to readers and inspire others to speak their truth and bring light to things happening in our communities.
As the jury commented: “This Kind of Thinking Does No Good has frank treatment of narratives, skillfully interwoven in ways both fluid and unexpected – wonderfully jarring at times.”
About the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award
Established by the Honourable Myra Freeman in 2005, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award recognizes the excellence of a particular work of art or design from any media. These works have a strong connection to Nova Scotia; have made a significant impact through their public presentation; and have contributed to the historical development and contemporary practice of the art form.
The Masterworks Arts Award is the largest cultural award based in Nova Scotia, annually awarding up to $37,000 to finalist Creators. Each work on the shortlist is awarded a $3,000 Finalist Prize. The Creator(s) of one of the Finalist works will then receive the $22,000 Grand Prize, for a total of $25,000, to be announced in the fall at the annual Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala. The Award is administered by the Nova Scotia Masterworks Awards Foundation, and is generously sponsored by Arts Nova Scotia, The Craig Foundation, and individual donors. The Foundation receives administrative support through Strategic Arts Management.
About the Peer Evaluation Process
In 2020, four Nova Scotian artists from across the province formed a multidisciplinary jury working at arm’s-length from the Foundation to select the shortlisted works. The Masterworks Arts Award is open to work from all creative mediums, and as such, the Foundation ensures that jury members represent a broad spectrum of artistic disciplines, and all are highly experienced in their respective fields. Names of the jurors will be made public once the Winner is announced in the fall. Descriptions of the Finalists can be found on here.