Five Works Vie for $25,000 Masterworks Arts Prize

Halifax, Nova Scotia – The chair of the Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Awards Foundation, Ron Bourgeois, announced today that poetry, sculpture, painting, music and theatre submissions comprise the final shortlist for the 2010 Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Award to be presented at the Creative Nova Scotia Conference in Halifax on October 29. The award celebrates outstanding contemporary art; finalists were selected by a multidisciplinary jury of five Canadian artists working at arm’s length from the Foundation. The winner will receive $25,000, with the other four finalists each receiving $2000.

“This award not only serves as an opportunity to showcase the talent of Nova Scotians,” says theHonourable Mayann E. Francis, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, “it supports the sustainability of the arts in this province thanks to generous awards. The diversity of the submissions and ultimately, those chosen as finalists, reflects the deep skills of the artistic community in Nova Scotia.” Shortlisted artists come from Pointe de l’Eglise, N.S., Halifax, Millbrook First Nation, and Toronto.

The 2010 finalists—in alphabetical order—are:

Alma and Amédé Georgette Leblanc’s highly original poetic works Alma (published in 2007) and Amédé (published in 2010) which 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 Antonine 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.

Grudge Match Graeme Patterson’s Grudge Match which 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-realized and satisfying whole. Grudge Match was created for the 2009 Sobey Art Award shortlist exhibition, for which Patterson was the Atlantic Region finalist.

Lamentatio Jeremiae Prophetae 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 in Nova Scotia and broadcast many times by CBC radio and BBC, the work has recently been released internationally on the prestigious ECM label.

People of the Dawn Alan 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.

Rockbound 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 the 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.

Short listed works may be viewed on the Foundation’s website: The Award recognizes the excellence and creation of a particular work of art or performance of art, which has made a significant impact in its public presentation, and contributed to the historical development and contemporary practice of the art form. It is sponsored by The Province of Nova Scotia, The Craig Foundation, Scotiabank and Stewart McKelvey.