Winners of 2010 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts announced

Haida sculptor Robert Davidson, filmmaker André Forcier, painter Rita Letendre, video artist Tom Sherman, photographer Gabor Szilasi and painter Claude Tousignant won the awards for artistic achievement. Glass sculptor Ione Thorkelsson won the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in fine crafts, while Terry Ryan received the Outstanding Contribution Award as long-time general manager of West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative in Cape Dorset, Nunavut and director of Dorset Fine Arts in Toronto.


“I salute these artists who, through their unique vision and immense talent, open our eyes wide to all those things, in us and around us, that we look at without really seeing,” said her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada.


“These prestigious career awards celebrate creativity and excellence,” said Canada Council Chair Joseph Rotman. “The extraordinary talent, imagination and accomplishments of these eight individuals show us how the arts contribute to the vitality of Canadian society.” 


The Governor General of Canada will present the 2010 Awards at a ceremony at Rideau Hall on Wednesday, March 31 at 6:00pm. In addition to a $25,000 prize, the winners will each receive a work created by Tony Urquhart, winner of a 2009 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.


The Awards, funded and administered by the Canada Council for the Arts, were created in June 1999 and awarded for the first time in March 2000. The awards recognize distinguished career achievements in the visual and media arts by Canadian artists, as well as outstanding contributions to the visual and media arts through voluntarism, philanthropy, board governance, community outreach or professional activities.


The Saidye Bronfman Award, which recognizes excellence in fine crafts, is part of the Governor General’s Awards. It is funded from the proceeds of a $1.5 million endowment given to the Canada Council by The Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Family Foundation in 2006. The support of the Foundation to the Canadian Museum of Civilization has also helped the Museum acquire works by recipients of the Saidye Bronfman Award.


To be nominated for one of the artistic awards, candidates must have created an outstanding body of work and have made a significant contribution to the development of the visual or media arts over a significant period of time. Nominees for the Saidye Bronfman Award must have made a substantial contribution to the development of crafts in Canada over a significant period of time.

This year’s independent peer jury for the Governor General’s Awards consisted of artists Bruce Elder (Toronto), Garry Kennedy (Halifax), Peter Krausz (Montreal), Shelley Niro (Brantford, Ontario), Michka Saäl (Montreal) and Renée Van Halm (Vancouver). The peer assessment committee members for the Saidye Bronfman Award were Lee Brady (Saskatoon), Steven Heinemann (Richmond Hill, Ont.) and Sylvie Lupien (Montreal).


For more information on the artists, please visit