Edward Burtynsky among 8 Winners of Governor General's Arts Awards

By Ahearn, Victoria | The Canadian Press, March 7, 2016 | Go to article overview

Edward Burtynsky among 8 Winners of Governor General's Arts Awards


Ahearn, Victoria, The Canadian Press


Burtynsky among 8 Governor General's winners

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TORONTO - Renowned Toronto photographer Edward Burtynsky is filled with hope these days as he continues his decades-long crusade to capture environmental issues in his work.

For one thing, he's just won a Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts, which he hopes will put a national spotlight on his environmental messages and on the importance of visual arts.

The 61-year-old, who was the subject of Jennifer Baichwal's acclaimed documentary "Manufactured Landscapes," is also encouraged by changes in government attitudes toward environmental issues.

"There's much to be hopeful for in that we've now had the COP 21 in Paris (which) has come out with a consensus to move forward with real targets, many of those to be determined yet but with a real purpose," Burtynsky said in a phone interview.

"Seeing our own government ... tackling with all the premiers some kind of a commitment to a real carbon tax or something that's going to have a profound shift in terms of a balance.

"And I just recently saw Al Gore give a talk at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference and saying that we've hit this interesting point where ... all of a sudden the cost of alternative energy is equal to or cheaper than conventional energy."

Burtynsky is one of eight winners of this year's Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts, administered and funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Independent peer juries pick the winners, who each receive $25,000.

Burtynsky is using his prize money to establish a $5,000 annual grant with the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, where he's on the board. The grant will support a Canadian artist in the creation of a photobook, a tool that had "a huge effect" on his career, he said.

Other Governor General's honourees this year include Toronto curator Marnie Fleming, filmmaker Philip Hoffman of Mount Forest, Ont. …

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