This May One Of Three Canadian Photographers Will Have A Very Big Day At The Scotiabank's New SPA


Scotiabank sponsors $50,000 prize, publishing deal and a gallery exhibition for the year's best photographer. Bay Street's brand new award

By Stephen Weir

On Friday March 11th, the Scotiabank announced in Toronto the three Canadian photographers who are in the running for the nation’s newest and richest photography award.
The Scotiabank Photography Award – SPA - new this year, will not only reward one photographer with a $50,000 purse (the two runners up get $5,000 each) but will also give out a publishing contract with one of the world’s top publishing houses – the Swiss based Steidl Books – to the winner.
Vancouver’s Roy Arden, Montréal’s Lynn Cohen and Robin Collyer, (Toronto) were named to the SPA short-list at a lunchtime press event. The announcement was made in the art-filled posh 63rd floor office (think of it as an economic spa) headquarters of Scotiabank in downtown Toronto.
“Believe me, we aren’t grumpy old bankers,” said Scotiabank vice-president John Doig. “ We want to show Canadians (and the rest of the world) what is happening here in terms of photography.”
Doig explained that Scotiabank has long history of supporting the arts. The company’s investment banking division was at one time known as McLeod Young Weir Co. & Ltd., a company started by four young entrepreneurs including landscape artist, Donald Ivan McLeod. McLeod (1886-1967) was a contemporary of the Group of Seven. Many of his paintings still hang in the bank’s inner sanctum.
“We want this to be like the Scotiabank Giller Prize for photography,” said SPA Chair - photographer Edward Burtynsky.
Actually this is the largest prize in Canada for an established Canadian and is fact richer than the Giller. Both prizes give away $50,000 to the winner. SPA goes two better by arranging the publishing a book of the artist’s work, which will be printed and distributed worldwide by Steidl. As well there will be a curated photography exhibition of the winner’s work.
What was surprising on Friday was not the size of the prize but the size or lack there of, of the media covering this prestigious award. Only the Globe and Mail and the National Post came to Bay Street to learn about what could well become Canada’s most important photography award.
Although the jury has already chosen the winner, the nation’s top photographer won’t be invited into the SPA until May. There will be a May 18th gala event to announce the winner, it will be held during the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival in Toronto.


Roy Arden, Vancouver
Roy Arden has been active as an internationally exhibiting artist since the late 70s. He has played a major part in the development of Vancouver as an internationally recognized centre for the production of contemporary photo art. Regularly seen in significant local, national and international exhibitions, Arden’s work is included in important museum collections in Canada, Europe and the U.S.A., including The Art Gallery of Ontario, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart.
Lynne Cohen, Montreal
Lynne Cohen was born in Racine, Wisconsin. The 67-year old has lived and worked in Canada since 1973 and currently resides in Montréal, Québec. Cohen studied at the University of Wisconsin, the Slade School of Art, University of London, and Eastern Michigan University (MA 1969).

She has held teaching positions at universities in the United States and Canada. 

A recipient of numerous awards of merit, including the Governor General's Award in Visual Arts and Media Arts (Canada) in 2005. 

Lynne Cohen is known for her photographs of domestic and institutional interior spaces, which have included living rooms, public halls, retirement homes, laboratories, offices, showrooms, shooting ranges, factories, spas, and military installations.
Robin Collyer, Toronto
Born in London, England in March 1949, Robin Collyer immigrated to Canada in 1957. He was educated at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto, in the late 1960s. Collyer has exhibited his sculpture and photography across Canada and the United States, and in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, England and France. In 2011, Le point du Jour, in Cherbourg, France will exhibit a large survey exhibition of his photographic work.


William A. Ewing is an author, curator, professor, and museum director. He is currently Director of Curatorial Projects for the publishing house Thames & Hudson, and Curator for Special Projects at the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography (Minneapolis/Paris/Lausanne). Ewing has taught the history of photography at the University of Geneva for over a decade.
Marie-Josée Jean heads VOX Contemporary Image Centre and teaches art history at Université du Québec à Montréal. For the past ten years, her research has focused on the theory and practice of images and conceptual art
Karen Love is Manager of Curatorial Affairs at the Vancouver Art Gallery. She is also an independent curator.



TOP TOP: Scotiabank Photography Award Chair - Edward Burtynsky
Top MIDDLE: John Doig
TOP RIGHT: Jury member Marie-Josée Jean


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