For the first time, two NL artists have been invited to participate in what is one of the world's premiere showcase of contemporary art - the 2013 Venice Biennale. Will Gill (St. John's) and Peter Wilkins (Clarke's Beach) have been accepted to join a very select, juried group of artists in Italy, from June - November, 2013.
Drawing on an international audience of half-a-million dedicated visitors, the Venice Biennale take place every two years, highlighting national pavilions from over 30 countries (including Canada), alongside companion exhibitions by the world's most compelling and celebrated artists.
Taking their place beside the official state pavilions, both Gill and Wilkins embrace an unprecedented opportunity to represent this province's unique, confident and contemporary culture on the biggest of world stages. Each is developing a major, collaborative installation of new work, title "About Turn"' to be presented within a prominent gallery on Venice's historic Grand Canal.
The project is being developed and realized by the Terra Nova Art Foundation (TNAF), a registered not-for-profit organization dedicated to sharing Newfoundland & Labrador's visual culture with the world. The foundation's directors are composed of volunteer curators, academics, business people and patrons, all dedicated to promoting the best of our contemporary artists abroad and to fostering enabling partnerships with individual sponsors as well as business and corporate communities. TNAF is thrilled to have its vision endorsed by Venice Biennale curators in its initial venture; the first in an ongoing, multi-year plan to present other Newfoundland & Labrador artists at future international venues.
Project co-curator Bruce Johnson heralds the ambition of the project, in light of the province's increasing visibility:
"This is a natural evolution, given the confidence, maturity and overall excellence of visual art here. In a province where writers including Lisa Moore, television shows like Republic of Doyle, and theatre innovators such as Jillian Keiley, to name only a few, garner praise nationally and internationally. It is high time our contemporary visual artists take their deserved place among their peers."
Board member Sharon Pippy agrees:
"I see this effort as the beginning of a sustainable program that will see our contemporary artists vie for the honour of representing the province at every subsequent Biennale. Toward this goal we have built into the program a scholarship that is designed to assist the next candidate(s) to be inspired to consider the 2015 Biennale, and then the 2017, and so on.”
In concert with this international exhibition, the foundation is partnering with like-minded colleagues, including those at Memorial University of Newfoundland to develop and offer to Italian audiences an educational component that highlights both the artists and the province in parallel with the show.
The foundation and the artists received a letter of invitation to participate in The Venice Biennale this week. In the days ahead, it plans to work with partners and potential supporters to raise the necessary funds to accept the invitation, and to make the work of Will Gill and Peter Wilkins a memorable presence in Venice.
In 2009 Peter Wilkins was the inaugural artist-in-residence at Memorial University in St John’s, Newfoundland. Various bodies of work have been exhibited in public and private galleries across Canada, including The Rooms, the Confederation Centre for the Arts and the Beaverbrook Gallery. The Portrait Gallery of Canada purchased the entire suite of Kinetic Portraits of 12 Canadian Writers in 2008. His portrait and landscape artworks are held in public and private collections in Canada, UK, US, Germany, France and Greece. In May 2011 new works based on the architecture of Toronto were exhibited as a featured exhibition of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival in Toronto and September 2012 a selection of portraits were exhibited at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. In 2013, Wilkins will be the subject of a solo exhibition at Canada House in London, England.
William Gill was born in Ottawa, Ontario. He moved to Sackville, New Brunswick in 1987 to graduating with a BFA at Mount Allison University, with a main focus on sculpture. An opportunity presented itself in 1997 to move to St. John’s, Newfoundland, to work as an apprentice at a bronze-casting foundry for sculpture. He has been in St. John’s ever since. Considerable attention has been paid to his work in the form of critical writing, newspaper articles and radio and tv interviews. Gill was selected to the national longlist in the 2004 and 2006 "Sobey Art Award" competitions, Canada’s premiere award for acknowledging contemporary artists under 40 years of age. Recently, Gill sculptural installation was included in Toronto’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche. His work is in private and public collections.For further information, contact: