Toronto Sculptor Who Uses Car Parts among Gov. Gen. Visual Arts Awards Winners

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Gov. Gen. visual arts awards honour eight

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TORONTO - Edmonton native Kim Adams' late parents were top of mind for the renowned contemporary sculptor on Tuesday as he won a $25,000 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts.

After all, it was their transient lifestyle that inspired his love of cars and travel, which he parlayed into an acclaimed career building fantastical large-and small-scale worlds with automobile parts as well as toys and model kits.

"I've gotten other awards this year. This one is just extra, extra important to me," the 62-year-old Toronto resident, whose works explore the notion of a mobile society as well as soci-economic and environmental issues, said in an interview.

"I know it's one of those things I think my mother would say that she was proud of, and it was always hard for her to say that because we weren't allowed to get full of ourselves. But it's an important award."

Adams was one of eight laureates who received this year's Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts, which recognize career achievements and are funded and administered by the Canada Council for the Arts. A peer assessment committee sorts through the nominations to choose the winners.

Other esteemed recipients included Vancouver-raised multi-disciplinary visual artist Max Dean as well as Ottawa-based painter Carol Wainio and curator Brydon Smith.

The list of laureates also includes two Montrealers: Performance and installation artist Raymond Gervais and photographer/visual artist Angela Grauerholz.

Rounding out the list is Vancouver media artist Jayce Salloum and weaver/notebook keeper Sandra Brownlee of Dartmouth, N.S.

Adams is known for creating surreal sculptures using a so-called kitbashing technique to either reinvent a car or create one from scratch using various vehicle parts as well as other items.

One of his most famous pieces "Bruegel-Bosch Bus," an orange, 1960 Volkswagen bus that's been sliced open to reveal a post-industrial universe Adams continues to build upon. It's been a permanent installation at the Hamilton Art Gallery since 1996.

Adams, whose works have also been exhibited around Canada and abroad, said his automobile adoration began as a child when engineer father built cars and his family was often on the road either travelling or moving.

His parents started their family in Peace River, Alta., then relocated to Edmonton, followed by Australia.

When Adams was about 14, they returned to Edmonton and then moved to Victoria, where his love of vehicles got him into trouble.

"I won't say what happened with cars," Adams said with a laugh. "I was borrowing cars, let's put it that way. …