Halifax, Nova Scotia/K‘jipuktuk,Mi’kma‘ki – Four works have been selected as Finalists for the 2019 Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award: Africville (Shauntay Grant & Eva Campbell), In/Visible (Charlotte Wilson-Hammond), Moose Fence (Ursula Johnson) and Niche (Basma Kavanagh).
Established in 2005, the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award is given to a work of art. This year, four Nova Scotian artists 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 that 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 $34,000 to the Creators of four finalist works. 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. Descriptions of the Finalists can be found below.
The Masterworks Foundation invites the public to celebrate these works and their Creators at the Artists & Conversation panel discussion where they will speak about their creative processes. This free event takes place Monday, September 30th beginning at 6:00pm in the Paul O’Regan Hall of the Halifax Central Library. Presented in partnership with Halifax Public Libraries. The winning work will be announced in the fall at the Creative Nova Scotia Awards Gala. The Award is generously sponsored by Arts Nova Scotia, The Craig Foundation, and individual donors.
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2019 Finalists for the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Arts Award
In Alphabetical Order by Work:
Nominator: Annick MacAskill, Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia
Africville is a vibrant children’s book celebrating the community of the same name as it was and its legacy that remains. The jury felt the originality of this work lies in the ways in which it is presented: the book does not treat the Africville community as a tragedy, a relic of the past, or as a cautionary tale – instead it offers a profound child’s voice seeing the beautiful parts of her culture and community. The positive outlook and innocence of the narrative resonated with the jury, as the work embodies, gives voice to, and creates space for the hopeful spirit of Africville which endures despite the tragedies, injustices, and discrimination committed against the community.
Through their collaboration, Grant and Campbell have accomplished the difficult task of paring down this complex and controversial reality of Nova Scotian history. The language is accessible and straightforward and the illustrations are refined with a purposefully joyful quality. There is a vibrancy to the paintings that match the narrative perfectly.
As the jury commented: “A flawless pairing of words and imagery.”
“Africville challenges the sadness historically associated with marginalized peoples and communities.”
Creator: Charlotte Wilson-Hammond
Nominator: Ted Lind, ARTsPLACE
In/Visible is a series of fourteen thematically linked large-scale drawings described as “painstaking, impressive, and extensive” by the 2019 jury. Wilson-Hammond’s creative process involved meticulously recolouring near-life-sized, de-saturated Mylar-printed photos of her own shadow on landscapes with coloured pencils seamlessly. The jury commended the relationship of the medium of the work to the thematic elements at the heart of its inspiration: one’s impermanence compared to our physical environment and the erosion of the self – especially the aging woman, who “widely report that as they age they slowly become invisible to people around them.”
With each of the drawings taking approximately 100 hours to complete, the jury noted how the process of creating the piece brings an additional level of poignancy to the creation, as it exemplifies the amount of work that an aging woman needs to go through to get noticed. The work also calls attention to the timely issue of social structure in Nova Scotia and is undeniably pertinent to the current provincial demographic. The jury praised the relatability of the work and its ability to traverse the province, the nation, cultures, and social issues.
As the jury commented: “In/Visible is a touchstone for Nova Scotians as lives change and the world changes.”
Creator: Ursula Johnson
Nominator: Sarah Fillmore, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Moose Fence is a large-scale multi-media sculptural installation combining a large galvanized gate and cage with operatic lighting and additional visual elements to create an immersive experience that compels viewers to choose how they interact with the structure. Physically, the work asks observers to consider the tangible realities of manufactured interventions on nature. Mentally, the work confronts systemically imposed traumatic treatment of Indigenous peoples.
The power of the piece is commendable, as mere images of it created moving, emotionally overwhelming responses in jurors, truly speaking to its calibre. The claustrophobic metaphor of colonization and the layering of issues within the piece speaks so closely to experiences that while the jury felt it unanimously important for settlers to experience the work, they also felt need to caution it could be damaging to Indigenous peoples who experience it. The piece also brings to light the reality that Indigenous artists need to wear their wounds very openly, in order for settlers to understand them. This work has pronounced potential to do good, provided it catalyzes people to understand and change.
As the jury commented: “Moose Fence is astounding in its ability to distill every element of its conception into its realization.”
Creator: Basma Kavanagh
Niche is a collection of poetry described as “layered, clever, and accessible” by the 2019 jury members. The highly-original work by Kavanagh features poetry and writing punctuated with field journal, encyclopedia-style imagery, making “startling connections” between human civilization and the larger ecological system we seek to categorize yet simultaneously destroy. The work evokes feelings of immediacy and urgency as it delves deeply and unrelentingly into the undeniable reality of our world: nature is everlasting, humanity is not. It poses timely and important questions, challenging readers to consider the ways in which our “progress” is potentially speeding us towards our own extinction and poignantly depicting the ways in which the world will heal once we are no longer a part of it.
The jury praised Kavanagh’s ability to situate herself and her own experience in the work, deftly weaving with respectful fingers a narrative lacking appropriation but wherein the many cultures and histories impacting the land and the world are given their due. The complexity of the work is remarkable, as is its ability to call out our atrocities while also illuminating the ways in which we may yet save ourselves.
As the jury commented: “Niche is what everyone should read today.”
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 received administrator support through Strategic Arts Management.
About the Peer Evaluation Process
This year, four Nova Scotian artists formed a multidisciplinary jury working at arm’s-length from the Foundation to select the short-listed 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 that all are highly experienced in their respective fields. Names of the jurors will be made public in the fall.