Joseph Plaskett Award/prix de Joseph Plaskett
The Joseph Plaskett Foundation in partnership with the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts (RCA)
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The Nancy Petry Award

Starting in 2015, the Nancy Petry Foundation has partnered with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA) and Joseph Plaskett Foundation to administer the Nancy Petry Award and help spread the award's good reputation. This new $10,000 prize is given to a candidate recommended through the Plaskett jury process. Here we are thrilled to announce the recipients for 2015 and 2016. Please find more on the generous artist Nancy Petry at the bottom of this page.

The 2017 Nancy Petry Award Recipient is Gillian King

Gillian KingGillian King completed her MFA in 2016 at the University of Ottawa. Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba she is currently based in Ottawa. Her work is firmly grounded in extensive research that connects “ancient art practices with our changing geographical landscapes” and the concept of the Anthropocene has led her to explore relationships between humans and animals. Gillian makes abstract paintings that emphasize material process, using cold wax medium, oil paint and powdered pigment to explore her visual methods. The jury was impressed by Gillian King’s formally inventive paintings that show “ambition and exuberance in her sense of scale and materiality. The physical traces of material in her paintings embody the very qualities of the cave paintings she is referencing. Her strongly affective works present a unique approach to both landscape painting and lyrical abstraction.”
Gillian plans to visit the Lascaux caves in France as well as geologic volcanic Eifel sites in Germany between Bon and Trier. Themes in her work will be furthered by seeing “some of the first European Western cave paintings that depict nonhuman animal and human animal interactions” and advance her understanding and exploration of Paleolithic art histories and contemporary methods of painting. The jury was grateful for a strong support letter for Gillian from Andrew Wright, Director of the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Ottawa.

Along with receiving the 2017 Nancy Petry Award, Gillian King is the recipient of the RBC Emerging Artist Award for Ottawa (2017) and was selected as the Ontario representative for the Robert McLaughlin Gallery's 50th Anniversary Exhibition, 'Ab NEXT' (2017) in Oshawa that features five emerging abstract painters from across Canada. Recent shows include “Becoming Animal” (solo 2016), Ottawa Art Gallery; La Maison des Artistes in Winnipeg, University of Marinette Wisconsin, PDA Projects, Ottawa and Karsh-Masson Gallery, Ottawa. Gillian also completed residencies at The Banff Centre for the Arts and Sparkbox Studios in Canada.

  • GillianKing_Aska_Cold Wax Medium, Oil, and Raw Pigments on Canvas_96 x 120 inches_2017
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The 2016 Nancy Petry Award Recipient is M.E. Sparks

M.E. SparksThe Nancy Petry Foundation is pleased to announce that M.E. Sparks is the Nancy Petry Award recipient for 2016. On the foundations behalf, Joseph-Richard Veilleux, President of the Royal Academy of Arts (RCA), presented the award in Vancouver in May 2106. Her speech and thanks to Nancy Petry is bellow.
The jury/expert panel said they admired Sparks for her “transformations of the historical still-life genre into a subject for ambitious contemporary painting and recognized the depth and integrity of her research which, while clearly indebted to modern art history has brought a new multiplicity of approaches and outcomes to painting and abstraction. Through shifts in scale and the flattening of pictorial space, her depictions of slabs and objects take on a new architectural monumentality.”

M.E. Sparks holds a BFA from NSCAD University in Halifax and a Master of Applied Arts from Emily Carr University of Art + Design (2016). She has received numerous awards including the Gordon and Marion Smith Painting Scholarship, BC Arts Council Scholarship, the Juror’s Choice Award at Saltspring National Art Prize (2015) and the Arts Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Talent Trust Award.

Her paintings have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across Canada including See Level at the Charles H. Scott Gallery, Vancouver, Still Here, (solo) at artist-run Point Gallery on Salt Spring Island and in 2016 Fresh Paint/New Construction at Art Mûr in Montreal. Sparks was Artist in Residence at the New Glasgow Studio Residency in Nova Scotia (2013-14). In 2017 she will be an artist at the Arteles Creative Residency in Hämeenkyrö, Finland, and Institut für Alles Mögliche in Berlin, Germany.


  • M.E. Sparks responds to award presented by Joseph-Richard Veilleux, President of RCA
    M.E. Sparks responds to award presented by Joseph-Richard Veilleux, President of RCA
  • Installation of M.E Sparks work in 2016
    Installation of M.E Sparks work in 2016
  • Resting Obstruction
    Resting Obstruction, 2015, oil on canvas, 84" x 72”
  • Grid and Grit
    Grid and Grit, 2015, oil on canvas, 84" x 72"

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It is an incredible honour to receive the Nancy Petry Award. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the The Nancy Petry Foundation, the Joseph Plaskett Foundation, the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, and, of course, to the celebrated Canadian painter, photographer, performer, film and media artist, Nancy Petry, for making this opportunity possible. Thank you as well to Emily Carr University and to the dedicated professors who have provided never-ending support during my master’s. I am also forever thankful to NSCAD University and the professors there who guided me through my undergraduate degree. NSCAD is where I fell in love with painting. While understanding that the path of a painter may be a difficult one, it became evident that this is the path I was meant to be on. To develop your own voice through painting, to remain authentic, critical, reflexive, while pushing boundaries and breaking new ground, all while putting your work out into the world - these are the challenges we face. It is awarded opportunities such as this that remind us our voices are being heard, our work is being recognized, and to continue following this path we are on, even while it leads into the unknown.

This award demonstrates the utmost importance of travel and exploration for emerging artists. It is a rare and life-changing opportunity to have the financial assistance to travel to Europe, and I am confident this experience will significantly transform and propel my practice forward in new and unforeseen ways. To see art in person, both historical and contemporary, is crucial to every artist’s development. Engaging with international art communities, building networks through residencies and galleries, and having the chance to produce work in a new context - these opportunities are pivotal, and I am so thankful and excited for the adventure to come. Thank you again, to Nancy Petry, for her ongoing contributions to Canadian visual arts, and for continuing to make difference in the lives of emerging painters.

– M.E. Sparks

The 2015 Inaugural Nancy Petry Award Recipient is Rachel Crummey!

Rachel CrummeyThe Joseph Plaskett Foundation and RCA congratulate Rachel Crummey – the very first Nancy Petry Award recipient! The senior artist Nancy Petry was on hand at the Musee d'art contemporain for the Plaskett/Petry Award Reception to congratulate Rachel herself.

This Inaugural prize was selected by the 2015 Plaskett/Petry Jury based this year in Ottawa. The chair of jury, Jennifer Lefort spoke on behalf of her colleagues, Jonathan Shaughnessy, a curator at the National Gallery of Canada and Carol Wainio, painter and Governor General Award in Visual Arts recipient as she told the crowd how Rachel's work and docier had appealed to the jury for its rigour and freshness.

Rachel gave a speech in front of the 100 guests, and thanked the jury and Ms. Petry and her gallery for their support. She is pleased to be able to plan a trip to work in Europe for this coming year.

Bio: Rachel Crummey is a visual artist based in Toronto. She has been an artist in residence in Vienna, Austria as part of their Kulturkontakt program, at the Salzburger Kunstverein in Salzburg, Austria (both 2015), and at the Vermont Studio Centre (2011). She has participated in solo and group exhibitions in Canada and Europe. Recent venues include Millington Marriott (London U.K), the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre (Guelph), and the Olga Korper gallery (Toronto). Her work is in corporate and private collections, including TD Canada Trust. She received her MFA from Guelph University in 2014.

Rachel Crummey painting
The Cut and Slender Joint Alone
Rachel Crummey painting
Sore Sore Sore
Rachel Crummey painting

Nancy PetryNancy Petry is a visual artist who divides her time between Montreal and London, England. A graduate of McGill University Fine Arts, she studied painting, printmaking and film in Paris and London. As Vice-Chairman of Véhicule Art from 1977–80, she represented the gallery at the Arte-Fiera, Bologna in 1977 and 1978 and was instrumental in introducing many international artists to Montreal and the rest of Canada.

She has exhibited widely in both Europe and North America with group and solo exhibitions, and her work is in many public and private collections. Her artistic output includes painting, printmaking, photography, film and new media. She has traveled extensively in both Europe and the Far East. These trips have inspired her work.