2016 Plaskett Award Winner – Ambera Wellmann
Ambera Wellmann was born in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia and attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design starting in 2007 where she focused primarily on painting, drawing and printmaking. In 2010 she studied at Cooper Union School of Art in New York City. She graduates with her Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Guelph in 2016.
As well as winning the Joseph Plaskett Award, Wellmann is the recipient of Project grants from the Province of Nova Scotia, a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Creation Grant from the Government of Canada, and two Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Awards. Wellmann has been an artist in residence at the Arteles Centre in Finland (2013). She has exhibited work across Canada and the United States and has several exhibitions forthcoming.
The Plaskett Award expert panel was based in Vancouver. David MacWilliam, Gary Pearson and Allyson Clay (with translation support from Caroline Mousseau) enthusiastically wrote:
“The jury was struck by the difficult beauty of the subject of Ambera Wellmann’s paintings and admired her virtuosic painting abilities and her confidence in engaging the grotesque and the uncanny. Her choice to represent porcelain objects as surrogates for the human body and her low-chroma, lush chiaroscuro painting of these objects is compelling. The committee further recognizes how this award will afford her the ability to see other historical objects, art, and artifacts in Europe that will resonate intimately with her subject matter.”
Wellmann travelled to Vancouver in May 2016 where she received the Award at a ceremony at the Equinox Gallery in front of the art community. This was followed by a second announcement and celebration at the 136th RCA gala dinner at the Western Front. She expects to focus her next year in research and studio production in Paris and Berlin and the Joseph Plaskett Foundation is thrilled to grant her this opportunity.
2016 Petry Award Winner – M. E. Sparks
The 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 available in the “Testimonials” page.
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.