Emily Pittman is a visual artist and writer based in St. John’s, NL. She earned an Honours BA (with Distinction) majoring in Studio Art and English from the University of Guelph. Emily grew up in Clarenville, NL, and moved to St. John’s, NL in May 2016. She is represented by Christina Parker Gallery and Jones Gallery. Emily was a finalist for ArtsNL’s 2019 Emerging Artist Award and has exhibited at venues including The Rooms, Eastern Edge Gallery (St. John’s) and Boarding House Gallery (Guelph), and created the mural for HOLD FAST Festival (St. John’s) in 2017. She has been featured on the cover of Visual Arts News, as well as in Newfoundland Quarterly, Riddle Fence, The Overcast, and The Telegram. Emily co-founded The Gathered Gallery, an online resource for artists.
Young, whose work primarily encompasses two mediums — oil and encaustic — created a series of works reflecting the geographic and topographical diversity of the province, embracing bays, ponds, valleys, and bogs. To create these works, Young began with a contour map of the area and developed each piece using
the lines on the map, selecting colours to represent the season of the year to reflect the feeling in time, dimension, line, and space. Each map was created by laying down many layers of encaustic medium,
painting lines for each contour, and using layers to represent the spectrum of colour for the season. The works were then sculpted using hand tools that expose lower layers and reveal the depth painted throughout the pieces. Young says her work allows her to express her understanding and expression of place in quite
different ways. Her oil painting style is “painterly” and moves between brush and pallet knife depending on the wind, waves, and movement of the piece, while her encaustic work is “much more abstract as it flows with the heating and application of the wax.”
2019 – Ingrid Percy
Ingrid Percy is a visual artist based in Corner Brook, NL. She earned a Diploma in Fine Art (Studio) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Studio) from the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, BC in 1995. Percy also graduated with a Master of Fine Arts (Painting) from the University of Victoria in 1997, and is currently studying as a PhD student researching community engagement and experiential learning in post-secondary visual arts programs in Canada, at
the same institution.
Her work has been part of exhibitions at Canada House (Home of the Canadian High Commission in the United Kingdom), the Grenfell Art Gallery and Eastern Edge Gallery in Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in PEI to name a few. She has been involved with dozens of group and solo exhibitions, both as an exhibited artist and as a curator. Percy has written for a number of publications and is the recipient of various grants and scholarships, including the Fogo Island Research Fellowship in 2016. She also teaches courses at Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus and at the University of Victoria regularly.
Percy created a new series of six serigraphs, each 22” x 30” on acid-free archival paper, which explores the theme of Flora in Newfoundland and Labrador. Each print in the series consists of a variety of images of plants, derived from her drawings. Of her work, Percy says it is “generally abstract and conceptual,” though she always maintains a representational drawing practice. Percy particularly loves drawing from life, in nature, and has done so on a regular basis during the decade that she has called Newfoundland and Labrador home.
Percy explained her inspiration for the work is tied to her ability to place herself; “Traveling around the world, I always know where I am by looking at the plants around me and under my feet. In Newfoundland and Labrador, walking on Blackhead Trail, on a boardwalk at Cape Spear, or on a gravel logging road in Western Newfoundland, the flora is small, drier, and more yellow-green. Craggy, twisted trees are deep rooted in the rocky terrain, holding on — resilient. Low blueberry bushes, red bunchberries, Pink Lady’s Slipper orchids, pitcher plants, and juniper bushes let me know I am on the most easterly coast of North America, in our province, on this land, in this place.”
Percy hopes the artwork she creates “will symbolize Newfoundland and Labrador, serving as a celebration of place and the people who live here, who are rooted here, who grow, live, and die here.” Symbolically, Percy sees the artworks as “an acknowledgement of beauty and the importance of diversity and difference as well as being a metaphor for survival, resilience, regeneration, place, life, and beauty.”
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G63IbNyWG4
2018 – Stefanie Smith
Stefanie Smith is an Ontario-born artist now based in St. John's. She earned her BFA (Visual) from Memorial University in 2007, and completed the Ceramics Certificate Program at Haliburton School of The Arts in 2011.
Stefanie’s current work explores alternative firing techniques, with a special focus on pattern, ornament, and surface treatment. She is drawn to the ceramic medium because of the intimacy it allows her in the creative process. Every step must be carefully considered and planned for, but never so much so that it compromises spontaneity or intuition. While creating with clay she keeps fully focused on her material; what it feels like, how it moves, and where it wants to go. Through this the process becomes not just an intimate experience, but a spiritual one.
To communicate this sense of intimate spirituality Stefanie explores forms that urge the viewer to hold and caress them. They’re frequently decorated with ornate imagery that’s symbolic in nature, with use of repetition and fragmentation that encourages the viewer to look more closely, and from all angles.
Her work has been a part of 15 group exhibitions, including two shows that exhibited in New Zealand. Her work has also been displayed in Ontario and Nova Scotia, as well as in a number of St. John’s galleries.
Smith has created a series of six ceramic tiles inspired by her Clearing the Ashes collection which she did a solo exhibition with at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador in the Annex Gallery in 2015. The collection of tiles interlinks to form one unified artwork to highlight the connectedness of the arts sector and the Newfoundland and Labrador cultural identity. Of the work, Stefanie says, “every artist being honoured at this awards gala is being recognized for their unique contributions to the arts sector, and through this they are being embraced by a beautiful community of highly skilled, talented, and one of a kind creators.”
2017 – Vessela Brakalova
Vessela Brakalova, originally from Sofia, Bulgaria, immigrated to Canada in 1990 with both a Masters and Bachelor of Fine Art from the Academy of Fine Arts in her native country. A few years later she established Vis-à-Vis Graphics, and keeps busy between that work and her professional art practice.
Her artwork can be found in the City of St. John’s permanent collection, The Rooms Provincial Art Gallery and bank, and in private collections in Canada and Europe. She was also a participant at the International Art and Contemporary Mosaic in Florence, Italy in 2015.
Brakalova’s contemporary mosaic pieces, being presented as awards tonight, form a collection she calls Genesis, loosely based on the narrative expressed in the biblical book of the same name. The term is also commonly associated with geology and the evolutionary history of life.
Each piece has its own name, and they include Chaus, Sky, Light, Conception, Life, and The Sixth Day. The series has exhibited at The Rooms in the past as part of The Free World exhibition which ran from May to September, 2016.
Vessela describes the body of work as a meeting point, where the fury of ceramic, stone, and metal crosses with the fragile tranquility of broken glass.
The artist’s goal is to celebrate her passion for challenging boundaries that define a traditional mosaic, contrasting aesthetics that fight for control leading to exciting things. She hopes audiences, different people, will see different things – even though they’re looking at the same image – because the meanings we assign to patterns and shapes are influenced by culture, politics, and personal experience.
The works are framed in copper and hang like a painting. The contemporary forms found in each piece are inspired by the nature, history, rugged beauty, and resilient people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
2016 – Mike Gough
Originally from Corner Brook, Mike Gough graduated from Grenfell College in 2007 with a BFA in Visual Arts. He completed his Masters in 2010 from Central Saint Martins and was a part of four group exhibitions at the Witham Gallery and Empire Gallery, among others in London, England.
In total, his work has been shown as part of more than 35 solo and group exhibitions, the most recent of which was 30 + 1 at the Christina Parker Gallery, where he has an upcoming solo exhibition soon. Also still on the horizon is a group show called Architec Tonic coming up at the 2 Rooms Contemporary Art Gallery in Duntara,NL. Michael’s work is included in many public, private and corporate collections. He’s been shortlisted for the EVA Emerging Artist of the Year in 2012 and the ArtsNL 2012 CBC Emerging Artist Award. In 2015, Gough won EVA’s inaugural People’s Choice Award.
Gough has been continually developing his potent contemporary aesthetic and his skills as a professional visual artist. He uses primal, visceral, and intuitive mark making combined with intimate thoughtful lines to explore ways of recording, responding and remembering.
For the 31st ArtsNL Arts Awards, he’s created a brand new series called AT NIGHT, a collection of nocturnal paintings designed to explore relationship between land, sky, and water – inspired by the idea that islanders always feel the ‘pull of the island’ while away. Each piece in the series is 20” x 20” on cradled birch panel done in acrylic,
pastel, and graphite with gold leaf accents.
In creating the series, Gough investigated people’s identity and where we place ourselves in landscape as we continue to grow among things that remain constant.
2015 – Elias Semigak
Elias Semigak, is an Inuit carver originally from Nain, who is now based in Clarenville. His professional art practice began having observed his father, who taught him how to carve using wood at first before graduating to soapstone. Semigak uses a combination of hand and power tools to bring his subject matter to life from within the stone.
The Inuit belief that everything possesses a spirit or soul, and the strong connection between the animal, human, and spirit realms intrigues and inspires Semigak. Often rotating between small single-subject pieces, to larger more complex ones as well as deeply spiritual works, he allows the stone to guide the lengthily artistic carving process.
His work commonly combines multiple figures posed in experimental ways, and includes different types of stone. Semigak enjoys the harmonious (and sometimes not harmonious) effect that has. Bears feature prominently in his carvings as a result of his fondness for them.
Since 2004, he has been involved with 10 exhibitions, including Labrador on Waterford at Herb Brown’s Birches Gallery and four exhibitions hosted by the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador. His work has been purchased for private collections and the provincial art gallery since 1998, and in 2008 he won the Juror’s Choice Award of Excellence presented by Devon House.
Semigak’s artistic vision is deeply rooted in the uniqueness of the natural, cultural, and spiritual world of his ancestors, while also embracing and exploring the contemporary cross-culture world of his own generation.
2014 – Scott Goudie
Scott Goudie was drawn to visual art at the age of four, drawing with pencils; by the time he was five he was telling his principal that he wanted to be an artist. At eleven Scott started studying various techniques including drawing, watercolour, and oil painting with Paul Parsons in St. John’s. Goudie would also regularly audit courses at Memorial University in printmaking and ceramics.
Privately, Scott worked with Gerald Squires, Don Wright, and Frank LaPointe who helped him further hone his abilities. He did that before and after his time as a student at the Vancouver College of Art from 1972-73. After finishing school, Goudie moved to Ottawa where he focused on his artwork, as well as his skills as a musician, before returning to St. John’s in 1977.
He created the St. John’s Series which included 21 prints of historic places while he also worked at St. Michael’s Printshop. That series toured the province and Nova Scotia in 1978. Goudie also spent time in India which later shaped an exhibit for the Memorial University Art Gallery in 1981. He held an artist residency in Berlin in 1995, and has regularly visited Labrador as well.
Much of his work features natural environments and landscapes that show his mastery of mezzo tinting and pastels among other techniques. Of his work, Goudie says, “I paint landscapes devoid of human figures because that’s what I enjoy most. It’s my quiet environmental statement. My travels in the rest of the world have given me a deeper sense of appreciation for the pristine wilderness held within the rugged periphery of this province. They are landscapes rich with light and void of human interference and that is what I want to have reflected in my work.”
Scott Goudie has done 34 solo exhibitions, and over four dozen group shows, since 1977. His work is included in numerous private collections and appears in more than fifty public and corporate collections.
2013 – Veselina Tomova
Born in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1958, Veselina Tomova graduated from the High School of Fine Art’s Illustration Program before completing a BFA in Illustration and Book Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in 1979. She moved to Germany, continuing her education with a Masters in Fine Art at the Academy of Graphic Art and Book Design,
specializing in illustration, printmaking, and book design.
By 1993 she had moved to Newfoundland and Labrador to make a second home in St. John’s, founding Vis-a-Vis graphics. She’s remained an active printmaker and illustrator, while also doing graphic design.
Veselina’s developed a substantial portfolio of fine art and illustrated numerous books in Germany, Bulgaria and Canada. As a children’s book illustrator, her work’s appeared in Maggie & Hero, A Dozen Silk Diapers, and others. Tomova also designed Patricia Grattan’s City Seen Artists’ Views of St. John’s 1785-2010 and Andy Jones’ Jack and the Manger, and Jack and Mary in the Land of Thieves.
She became an artist in residence at St. Michael’s Printshop in 2009 and is represented by Red Ochre Gallery, where she’s had solo shows. Veselina has also had solo shows internationally, with two exhibitions in her ‘first home’ at the National Gallery for Foreign Art and Gallery Paris in Sofia. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, one of the most recent being the Large Year Award, presented to her in 2011 by VANL-CARFAC.
The pieces being presented tonight come from her Ports of Call collection which uses vibrant colours and plays with collage shapes and patterns, while honouring the traditions of printmaking. Her Ports of Call are the symbols of spiritual movement, the longing to find ones place in the cosmic fabric, the delicate balance between the desire to explore and the comfort of safe refuge.
2012 – Christine Koch
Christine Koch is a painter and printmaker who has made Newfoundland and Labrador her home for the last twenty
years. She draws her inspiration and imagery from Canada’s mountain and northern environment, being especially attracted to the rugged east coast. Christine splits her time between St. John’s and Woody Point, a community surrounded by Gros Morne National Park.
Christine interprets the dramatic wild backdrops and geographic settings into her artwork, commemorating the various remote places she has travelled to. She has captured some iconic locations including northern Labrador, Baffin Island, the Yukon, and the Rocky Mountains in her work.
For the 2012 ArtsNL Arts Awards, Christine created seven varied-edition print-works that are a hybrid of linocut andcpainting. The seven pieces draw from her time spent in the Torngat Mountains, with geographers from Memorial University doing climate-change research.
Christine has exhibited across the country in many solo and group exhibitions. Her paintings and original prints are in major Canadian public collections including the Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador, The Canada Council Art Bank, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the Memorial University Permanent Collection. Christine’s work can also be found in public and private collections worldwide, including Harvard Law School.
Christine has been twice-recognized with a City of St. John’s Arts Award and is the recipient of multiple national, provincial and municipal arts grants. In the winter, Christine works in her downtown St. John’s studio, which is open for public visits by appointment. Her studio-gallery in Woody Point called Tablelands Studio is open to the public in the summer months.
2011 – Isabella St. John
Potter and ceramic artist Isabella St. John operates Blue Moon Pottery located in the Battery overlooking St. John’s Harbour.
For the Awards, she has created a series of five individual porcelain lanterns. They were thrown, altered, carved, and then glazed in “chameleon” creating highly variable colours – from smoky grey green, to golden rust, to a soft olive white. The lanterns add warmth and a sense of peace to a room; they have a quiet presence and an architectural quality that is meditative and calm.
Isabella feels the recipients of these Awards are the light-bearers of the province’s artistic community, so it’s appropriate that they be recognized by the symbol of a lantern.
Her pieces will be presented to the winners of the Artist of the Year, Arts in Education, Emerging Artist, Arts Achievement, and Patron of the Arts Awards.
2010 – Jonathan S. Green
A native of Carbonear, Jonathan Green is a recent graduate of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College where he completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Art.
Jonathan is currently attending a visual arts studio work-study program at the Banff Centre for the Arts. He is focusing
his research on North Pole exploration: taking elements from literary fiction and oral traditions, he deconstructs historical events.
For the awards, Jonathan has created a series of five black and white mixed media drawings inspired by the journeys of Bob Bartlett. He says of Bartlett: “Here was a person who went to the limits, yet retained his dignity. He was a person of a long standing tradition and history, yet he was unafraid to go to the end of the world in search of the new. These are all wonderful traits – traits that suit the arts of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
These pieces will be presented to the winners of the Artist of the Year, Arts in Education, Emerging Artist, Arts Achievement and Patron of the Arts Awards.
2009 – John Goodyear
Sculptor John Goodyear creates one of a kind wood art pieces in his studio in Torbay. He uses a variety of sculpturing and texturing practices such as the old world technique of hand carving, and the contemporary use of rotary tools, along with sandblasting and any other technique that will allow him to achieve the desired effect.
He typically works with darker hardwoods such as Walnut, Cherry and Mahogany and sometimes other hardwood species such as Osage Orange and Hickory. His choice of wood mainly depends on the look or feel he’s trying to achieve in each sculptural form. Some forms may require a species that exhibits a rich and elegant feel, while other pieces may require more of an organic or rustic appearance. To truly capture the natural beauty of the wood, he finishes each piece using a clear finish only. The level of sheen is usually satin but may be buffed to achieve a flat or high polished look depending on the esthetics required to capture either an elegant, mysterious, or a natural organic appearance.
The pieces John has created for the Arts Awards are made from American Walnut. They are a series of one-of-a-kind sculptured hollow forms, approximately six inches wide and four inches high. These pieces are based on the concept of erosion: the revelation of a lost and secret gift that has been exposed due to the erosion process. They consist of two layers, a thick bark like outer layer, which has an eroded appearance that reveals the inner form. The inner form consists of what appears to be an intricate organic web like structure.
2008 – Ellie Yonova
Artist Ellie Yonova is the creator of the beautiful photographs that will be presented to the winners in five of the award categories tonight. These photographs were part of her 2007 exhibition The Big Picture at the Christina Parker Gallery in St. John’s.
She explains that these photographic images have been created using recognizable objects that lose their “identity” when depicted to gain a new meaning, allowing the audience to make a personal discovery. The whole process happens in front of the lens, captured in the way it is designed, with no additional manipulation afterwards.
She says, “Playing with light, glass, water, natural objects and colors, I try to elaborate and define my own style, keeping the objects recognizable to a certain degree, while extracting some abstract details from them.”
The result is unique exotic images, sumptuous and lush, charged with their own energy, bursting inside out, deconstructing the reality in abstract pieces both real and unreal.
Ellie Yonova was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. She graduated from the Moscow Film Institute, majoring in cinematography for film and TV. In 1999 she moved to Canada and settled in Newfoundland. She has worked as a Director of Photography for European, Canadian and American feature films and television documentaries. Her works have been screened at festivals nationally and internationally and have brought many awards to her credit.
She says that still photography is her first love and takes pictures wherever in the world her work takes her.
2007 – Jason Holley
Jason Holley is a full-time craftsperson working in St. John’s. He started as a street vendor selling macramé and beads on Water St. in 2001. After two years Jason discovered Chainmaille. He began taking evening art and craft classes at The Anna Templeton Centre and The Craft Council clay studio to develop his general and design skills.
Jason completed the first year of the Textile Studies program of the College of the North Atlantic in 2006. These days he works almost exclusively in chainmaille, producing jewellery, clothing, and recently, ceramic “Claymaille”. His work has been shown extensively at the Craft Council Gallery (with his first solo exhibit in May 2006), in group fashion shows, and craft fairs in the St John’s area.
For this commission he has created five unique “claymaille” sculptures consisting of interconnected ceramic rings that have been raku-fired to resemble metal. In his submission statement Holley says: “I believe that these sculptures would be ideal for use as awards. They are solid and substantial in their image but they are fragile and need care and proper treatment to survive. This is how I feel about the arts community in Newfoundland and Labrador.”
2006 – Diana Dabinett
I live in the community of Shoe Cove, north of St John’s on the east coast of Newfoundland looking out over the Atlantic Ocean.
Through vibrant colour and myriad forms of life, I attempt to present a unique view of Newfoundland and Labrador, its shoreline, rivers, the rocky cliffs. The surface teems with details from the natural environment, but captures the duality of its fragility and durability under the harsh conditions on this edge of Canada. Through continuous observations of the surrounding environment, I build up a storehouse of experiences, memories that are supported by an expanding collection of reference photographs and scientific facts that, through contemplation and emotional response, provide the stimulus for my work. When the world’s natural environment is threatened on so many fronts, it is time to look at what this province still has, to delight in its unspoilt variety and to preserve in my work some of the beauty and diversity that still remains.
These works are all based on sketches I did on location in various parts of the Newfoundland. They are original, one-of-a-kind works painted on silk twill with Remazol dyes.
2005 – Reed Weir
Ceramic sculptor Reed Weir lives and works in Robinsons on the southwest coast of Newfoundland. Originally from Parry Sound, Ontario, she moved to Newfoundland in 1989. She has a fine arts degree from the Ontario College of Art and Design and her work has been exhibited in Canada, the United States, Germany, Japan and Thailand.
Her one-of-a-kind large clay art pieces are evidence of a highly personal and distinctive style. Reed passionately believes that culture is not determined by a few at the centre and that regional and rural perspectives are essential to the wholeness of Canadian contemporary art.
She gives shape and colour to social issues, like the out-migration of rural communities, and makes us understand them in terms of waiting, loneliness and reconciliation. She has the artist’s ability to take what is relevant in her life and community and show how it is universal and relevant to us all.