Who’s in the news

Wow, it’s been a busy month for Fine Arts in the news. Not only did we already run this media roundup earlier in November, as well as a post about the fantastic reviews the latest Phoenix show has been getting, but there’s also been a flurry of new media activity well worth blogging about.

Visual Arts alumna Erin Shirreff's winning video

Visual Arts alumna Erin Shirreff’s winning video

First up is the big news that Visual Arts alumna Erin Shirreff has won the Art Gallery of Ontario’s prestigious $50,000 Aimia Photography Prize (formerly known as the Grange Prize). According to the AGO, more than 25,000 public votes—a record number―were cast during the contest’s 10-week voting period. In addition to the cash prize, Shirreff will receive a six-to-eight week fully funded residency across Canada, to commence in early 2014.

Shirreff—who graduated from UVic’s Visual Arts program in 1998 where she sculpture with Roland Brener and Robert Youds—now lives and works in New York City, where she has earned widespread praise for her blending of photography, video and sculpture. As the Aimia Prize organizers note, “Her work raises questions about the often-paradoxical relationship between time and space and the image.”

Erin Shirreff (photo: Tony Smith)

Erin Shirreff (photo: Tony Smith)

When she was longlisted for this year’s prize, Shirreff—the only Canadian nominated—told Canadian Art magazine in this article that she was surprised to be included. “I work very much in sculpture as well as video,” she explained. “The videos I make are photo-based, and I suppose you can also have that discussion about my sculptures. So I was happy that they had expanded their definition of the kinds of artists they wanted in the Prize, as opposed to more conventional photography practice.”

Recent solo exhibitions include Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery, London’s White Cube; and Kingston’s Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Shirreff’s work is also in the permanent collections at New York’s Guggenheim Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts, among others. Runners-up in this year’s Aimio Prize included Mexico’s Edgardo Aragón, America’s LaToya Ruby Frazier and Japan’s Chino Otsuka.

From Sandra Meigs's current exhibit (photo: Francis Sullivan)

From Sandra Meigs’s current exhibit (photo: Francis Sullivan)

In other Visual Arts news, the current exhibit by painting professor Sandra Meigs was recently reviewed by Canadian Art magazine’s John Luna. Running through to December 14 at Victoria’s Open Space, Meigs’ The Basement Panoramas earned Luna’s praise, with the respected local art writer noting, “Meigs’s basement is a metacognitive space, a set of generative coordinates in which—as in Matisse’s clock face without hands—the explicit depiction of action (past-present-future) is withheld.”

The Meigs exhibit was also featured in this article in the UVic community newspaper, The Ring.

Enterprising BFA Kelly Dunning

Enterprising BFA Kelly Dunning in New Zealand

Visual Arts graduate Kelly Dunning has earned praise as one of “21 Location-Independent Women” by Worldette.com for her work as a travel writer with her own blog, Global Goose. Dunning, who graduated with a BFA in 2008, focused on visual arts, art history and art education while at UVic, and is typical of many of our graduates who combine their academic training with their own creative passions to carve out a place in life.

Over in the Writing department, the Toronto debut of The Valley—the latest play by Writing professor and noted playwright Joan MacLeod—has been getting good notices. Originally mounted earlier this year at Alberta Theatre ProjectsplayRites Festival of New Canadian Plays, the remount currently running at Tarragon Theatre has Toronto Star critic Robert Crew saying, “few Canadian playwrights are as acutely tuned to contemporary issues as Vancouver’s Joan MacLeod.” (We’ll forgive that little geographic gaffe, even though it’s been over a decade since MacLeod has lived in Terminal City.)

Susan Coyne & Colin Mercer in Joan MacLeod's The Valley (Cylla von Tiedemann photo)

Susan Coyne & Colin Mercer in Joan MacLeod’s The Valley (Cylla von Tiedemann photo)

Saying the show is “not to be missed,” Crew’s four-star review says her script “could not be more topical: mental illness and the challenges that police face in dealing with situations involving those suffering from that illness . . . as always, MacLeod is clear-sighted and even-handed, unsentimental yet huge of heart. It’s a wonderful piece of writing – as good as any you will see all season.” Meanwhile, J. Kelly Nestruck of The Globe & Mail gave The Valley 3 1/2 stars out of 4 and described it as being “relentlessly topical” while noting “MacLeod is equally interested in character here . . . there’s a lot of empathy in the writing and between the characters.”

bradleyTCnov222013It’s been a busy couple of weeks for Writing professor and filmmaker Maureen Bradley. Not only did she speak about cinematic representations of transgender people ahead of the screening of the Israeli film Melting Away for the Transgender Day of Remembrance at UVic’s Cinecenta (presented by UVic’s own Transgender Archives), but she was also profiled in the local Times Colonist about her own upcoming bittersweet romantic-comedy Two 4 One. Describing the rom-com as being “in the tradition of Woody Allen and Billy Wilder, but with a modern twist” in this article, Bradley explained the story focuses on “two oddballs” . . . who both wind up pregnant. “I think audiences are ready to see more transgendered people as three-dimensional people with lives,” she says.

You can also help support Two 4 One, which will be shooting in Victoria in early 2014, by donating to this Indiegogo campaign. Just $75 gets you an on-camera walk-on as an extra, or you can pony up $10,000 for an executive producer credit—but donations start at $5. (Update: Bradley did raise the needed $20,000!)

But Bradley isn’t the only filmmaker in the Writing department to attract some attention. Fine Arts digital media staffer and Writing alum Dan Hogg‘s film Floodplain (produced with support from National Screen Institute and BravoFACT) won Best Cinematography and Best Use of Location at the recent Vancouver Short film Festival. Floodplain was also directed by Writing alum Jeremy Lutter and based on a short story by fellow alum D.W. Wilson—we’ve been following the development and success of the film on this blog for some time now, and you can find out more about it on this post.

'Til Death is another outstanding Writing-created short film project

‘Til Death is another outstanding Writing-created short film project

And the short film ‘Til Death—directed by current Writing graduate student Connor Gaston—won Best Student Film and Best Screenplay for alumni Ryan Bright at the same Vancouver Short film Festival. ‘Til Death will also screen at the Whistler Film Festival from December 4 to 8. The insider word is that the WFF has grown in prominence and is now seen as the key industry festival on the Canadian landscape—which is good for Bright, Gaston and assistant producer and UVic alum Amanda Merritt, will be attending the Whistler screening.

Bradley & Hogg in the Torch

Bradley & Hogg in the Torch

‘Til Death was produced as the 2013 Writing 420 project and was created by over 20 students from Writing, Theatre and Music—that’s the same course that created the award-winning Freshman’s Wharf web series back in 2009, as well as three other films now. (Class mentor Bradley describes it as “a fantastic, chaotic and inspiring experience.”) Be sure to check out this making-of video, created through a directed study with current student Lachlan Ross. Gaston also launched a successful Indiegogo campaign to raise $2,500 to finish the film after the class ended. Finally, Bradley and Hogg were both profiled, alongside Gaston, for their work with Writing 420 in UVic’s alumni Torch magazine. Click here to read the article, and flip ahead to page 32.

Donovan Bailey champions Esi Edugyan

Donovan Bailey champions Esi Edugyan

More Writing news for both current students and alumni: Fourth year student Benjamin Willems was recently named a winner of EVENT magazine‘s annual creative non-fiction contest; big-deal alumna Esi Edugyan‘s Giller Prize-winning novel Half-Blood Blues is one of CBC’s 2014 Canada Reads contenders—championed by no less than stellar runner Donovan Bailey; and alumnus Arno Kopecky recently appeared on CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition talking about his new book Oil Man and the Sea, which tracks his journey sailing the same routes as the tankers will take if the Northern Gateway pipeline goes ahead. Click here to listen and scan ahead to timecode 01:29:58. And the fall launch of the Writing department spawned Concrete Garden magazine and the annual Writing faculty reading night were both featured in this September 26 segment from the CFUV radio show, U in the Ring.

Patrick Lane at November Convocation

Patrick Lane at November Convocation

Former Writing professor Patrick Lane was given an Honourary Doctor of Letters by UVic at November’s convocation, and his convocation speech “An Open Letter to All the Wild Creatures of the Earth” was such a hit that the Times Colonist printed it here—and it became a viral sensation! You can also listen to it as a iTunes U podcast here.

And the Lorna Crozier Literary Celebration earned some good media attention, with Amanda Farrell-Low of CBC Radio’s All Points West focusing her new column “Creative Class” on the event which you can hear by clicking here, and the Times Colonist running this short piece on it. UVic’s community newspaper The Ring also featured this article on the event as well.

Legacy Galleries art book exhibit 24Nov2013 Page C9UVic’s Legacy Art Galleries earned some attention from the Times Colonist in this article about their current Art of the Book exhibit in the McPherson Library’s Maltwood Gallery. “These artists are kind of challenging what our expectations of a book are,” says Legacy curator of collections Caroline Riedel. (Take that, Kindle!) Organized by the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild, this will be the third time the exhibit will be hosted at UVic. The exhibit runs through to March 14.

EDGE_Sept2013History in Art professor Carolyn Butler-Palmer and her work with the Big Button Blanket project was recently profiled in the Times Colonist in this UVic knowlEDGE piece. Butler-Palmer and her students have been busy creating the world’s biggest button blanket this semester, which will debut in January 2014 as part of a featured exhibit at UVic’s Legacy Galleries  Downtown. The blanket will also receive its inaugural dance by no less than Governor General’s Award winning aboriginal artist Rebecca Belmore, who was a past Audain Professor for the Department of Visual Art.

History in Art alumna Lindsay Anderson is also featured in the most recent issue of the Torch, for her work as both a busy food writer and the official food blogger for the City of Richmond. Click here to read the article, and flip ahead to page 34.

Mares TCSchool of Music professors and instructors Anne Grimm, Alexander Dunn, Michelle Mares and the Lafayette String Quartet were all mentioned in this recent Times Colonist column by classical musical writer Kevin Bazzana about their collective A Britten Celebration concert.

Music instructor Michelle Mares got her own feature article in the Times Colonist for her recent concert performing the complete sets of Chopin Etudes (Op.10 and Op. 25). The TC piece focused on how a broken wrist nearly sidelined Mares’ performance career, and how the Chopin Etudes pushed her to overcome her injury.

Finally, brassy Music prof Eugene Dowling attracted a good deal of attention with the 35th anniversary of Tuba Christmas in Victoria—due in no small part to the declaration of Tube Christmas Day by Victoria’s mayor.  In addition to this Victoria News article (“It’s been a marvellous 35 years . . . They say it’s not Christmas until you’ve had Tuba Christmas”), Dowling also spoke to the Times Colonist in this piece, which noted that he’s the School of Music’s “most senior faculty member,” having been at UVic for 37 years now.

School of Music instructor Scott MacInnes on Shaw TV

School of Music instructor Scott MacInnes on Shaw TV

Dowling was also mentioned, alongside fellow School of Music instructor Scott MacInnes, as part of the Pinnacle Brass Quintet in this separate Times Colonist article. The Pinnacle Brass were also featured in a 10-minute segment on Shaw TV’s Go Island  show, which you can watch here, in advance of their Christmas concerts on December 14 (Sidney’s Charlie White Theatre) and 20 (Victoria’s St. John the Divine). Full concert details can be found on their website.

Join Us For A Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier

For over 20 years, Lorna Crozier helped shape the future of Canadian poets and writers as a professor in the Department of Writing. Now, her legacy will live on in the form of the Lorna Crozier Scholarship for undergraduate writing students—and to help kick off the scholarship, a special fundraiser is being held at UVic on November 28. Featuring a veritable who’s-who of national and local literary luminaries, A Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier promises to be one of the most memorable events of the fall arts season.

Crozier poster_Oct16Hosted by Shelagh Rogers of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter, and featuring famed Canadian writers Anne Michaels (Fugitive Pieces), Jane Urquhart (The Stone Carvers) and Brad Cran (former City of Vancouver Poet Laureate), the evening’s lineup also includes UVic writers Patrick Lane (There Is A Season), Esi Edugyan (Half-Blood Blues), Carla Funk (former City of Victoria Poet Laureate), Melanie Siebert (Deepwater Vee), Steven Price (The Year of the Ox) and a special appearance by School of Music professor Alexandra Pohran Dawkins,who will be performing her own improvisational piece on the English Horn titled, “A Musical Offering—For Lorna.”

Each audience member will also receive a special poem, written for the occasion and signed by Lorna, that will be suitable for framing. Even Crozier herself will be on hand for the event!

(Interesting campus side-note: in additional to the many awards and accolades they have garnered over the years, Anne Michaels received an honourary doctorate from UVic in 2012, and Patrick Lane is receiving one in November just two weeks before the event.)

Lorna Crozier (photo: Gary McKintry)

Lorna Crozier (photo: Gary McKintry)

“Lorna’s a brilliant poet—we all know that—but she truly was a brilliant teacher,” says acting Writing chair Joan MacLeod. “Her legacy is already in our department in some of our amazing teachers—like Carla Funk and Steven Price, who were both students of Lorna’s and have gone on to rich writing and teaching lives. When I visit their classes now, I see Lorna through their approach to the classroom.”

During her time teaching at UVic, Crozier received both the Distinguished Professor designation in 2004 and the Craigdarroch Award for Excellence in Artistic Expression in 2010, in addition to being named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2010 and receiving the Order of Canada in 2011—that’s in addition to her many, many other awards.

“I love the idea of the scholarship, just because it’ll be like having a little piece of Lorna still with us,” MacLeod continues. “She was infectious about her love of poetry—we got students into our department because of her name, but she also got students interested in poetry when it wouldn’t have otherwise been on their radar. It’s important to honour not just what she did for our students but what she did for the whole department.”

A Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier begins at 7pm Thursday, November 28, in UVic’s David Lam Theatre (MacLaurin Building A144). $20 tickets are available now at the UVic Ticket Centre, with all proceeds (and any additional donations) going to the Lorna Crozier Scholarship fund.

Fall events in Fine Arts: November

It’s another busy month for Fine Arts events, with a pair of exclusive gallery exhibitions, as well as a full lineup of readings, concerts, visiting artists, the first Phoenix Theatre mainstage production of the 2013-14 season and a special gala literary celebration in honour of Lorna Crozier. Read on to find out what’s going on!

Daniel Laskarin's "blue chair :: if this"

Daniel Laskarin’s “blue chair :: if this”

• The notion of paradox provides an apt means of curating an exhibit by seven divergent artists—thus the title of the Department of Visual Arts group exhibit, Paradox, which continues through to January 12 at UVic’s Legacy Art Galleries Downtown.

It has been nearly 35 years since UVic’s Legacy Art Galleries curated a Visual Arts faculty exhibition. Paradox aims to bring wider understanding to the particular strengths of this nationally acclaimed academic program, which is rooted in explorations of phenomenology and in the perceptual, conceptual, and interactive contexts of contemporary visual art. It also comes on the heels of the recent Department of Visual Arts retrospective exhibit, Core Samples.

As Dr. Sarah Blackstone, Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, notes in her introduction to the Paradox exhibit catalogue, “The department [of Visual Arts] has a long-standing reputation for training generations of successful Canadian visual artists . . . . Students are inspired by the accomplishments and investigations of their teachers, and faculty are inspired by the fresh ideas and questions of their students.”

You can read more about the Paradox exhibit in this separate post.

Meigs_Open Space• Also in the galleries this month is a rare local solo exhibit by Visual Arts faculty member Sandra Meigs: The Basement Panoramas. In this exhibit, Meigs studies the invisible foundations of buildings—basements and crawl spaces—and these forgotten, often neglected areas, become familiar again in Meigs’ exciting new works. “Basement spaces often hold that which we do not want to let go of and are also the foundation of the house, analogous to the psyche,” says Meigs. Many of the pieces in the exhibit relate to the idea of transformation.

The Basement Panoramas runs from November 1 to December 14 at Open Space.

• The next concert by the UVic Orchestra is Harmonious Saints. Ajtony Csaba conducts a program of Bach, Handel, Biber, Gabrieli and Tchaikovsky, with special guest soloist and UVic student Joshua Lovell—winner of the UVic Concerto Competition and fresh off his well-reviewed performance in Pacific Opera Victoria’s Falstaff.

Harmonious Saints begins at 8pm Friday, November 1 at Farquhar Auditorium. Tickets are $13.50 & $17.50 at the UVic Ticket Centre.

Ian Johnston copy• The Department of Visual Arts welcomes Nelson-based sculptor Ian Johnston as the latest in their ongoing Visiting Artist series. An architect turned sculptor, since the mid-’90s Johnston has been pursuing an interest in ceramics and, more recently, large-scale installations that often include ceramic. Prior to opening his Nelson studio in 1996 he spent five years working at the Bauhaus Academy in post-Berlin Wall East Germany, where he developed and facilitated a series of workshops around themes of urban renewal and public intervention in a tumultuous time of cultural transformation. His recent body of work Refuse Culture: Archaeology of Consumption examines our relationship with the environment in a series of installations using ceramic and mixed media appealing to multiple senses of the viewer.

Ian Johnston will speak and show slides of his work starting at 8pm Wednesday, November 6, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building.

• The music of versatile American composer David A. Jaffe is celebrated this month with a trio of events: a lecture by Jaffe himself, a Guitarworks concert, and a special musical event featuring School of Music artists Andy Schloss, Scott MacInnes and the Lafayette String Quartet, as well as past School of Music collaborator Trimpin, plus other guests. (Trimpin was most recently involved with the (CanonX+4:33=100) collaboration between Music and Open Space.)

David Jaffe (right) with Andy Schloss

David Jaffe (right) with Andy Schloss

Jaffe’s compositions range from acoustic to electronic, and the concert will encompass a broad spectrum of his output—from the old time fiddle-inspired Cluck Old Hen Variations to the Canadian premiere of The Space Between Us for radio drum, two string quartets, piano, and robotic percussion. Also in this concert, the Lafayette String Quartet will present the world premiere of the newly commissioned string quartet Fox Hollow.

The Orion Series in Fine Arts presents a lecture by David A. Jaffe at 8pm Wednesday, November 6, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall. The Music of David A. Jaffe begins at 8pm Friday, November 8, also at Open Space. Admission is $10 or $15. And the UVic Faculty Concert Series: Guitarworks features the School of Music’s Alexander Dunn with Jaffe and guests, at 8pm Saturday, November 9, in the Phillip T. Young Recital Hall.

Larry Groupe• Three-time Emmy nominee and twice-winning composer Larry Groupé will visit UVic to present a lecture titled “Film Music: An in depth look and discussion on the current state of composing in Hollywood today.” Groupé will discuss his feature film and TV projects, and his latest award-winning score for the remake of Straw Dogs for Sony pictures. As a working Hollywood composer Groupé brings to light all the requirements—be they technical, creative, and political—to be a successful film and television composer today. Presented in colaboration with the UVic School of Music, Victoria Conservatory of Music, and the Computer Music Course Union.

Hear Larry Groupé speak at 3:30pm Thursday, November 7 in MacLaurin A169—for free.

Campus Confidential• Wonder what really goes on behind the romantic scenes on campus? Join the Department of Writing for the launch of Campus Confidential, a new collection of creative nonfiction tales by UVic writers exploring the intricacies of relationships . . . by degrees. Inspired by the popular New York Times column “Modern Love,” the new book features 13 student and alumni writers, including work by City of Victoria Butler Book Prize winner and finalist—and current Writing instructor and graduate student (respectively)—Frances Backhouse and JoAnn Dionne, collection editor Liz Snell, and Fine Arts communications officer, Writing instructor [and author of this blog] John Threlfall.

Research for Campus Confidential was funded in part by the Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award, and the book was produced on the UVic Bookstore’s new Espresso book machine—which will also be in operation at the reading and launch.

Campus Confidential kicks off at 7pm Thursday, November 7, in the UVIc Bookstore—and it’s free. (But the books are not.)

FB-Coverpage-SKOOT_x972Phoenix Theatre presents their first mainstage production of the 2013-14 season, The Skin of Our Teeth. Directed by veteran Phoenix professor Linda Hardy, this 1943 Pulitzer Prize-winning satire from Thornton Wilder (the author of Our Town) takes us on a wild and raucous tour through the ages.

Enter New Jersey suburbia: home of the perfect middle class family, George, his wife Maggie, their children Gladys and Henry (previously known as Cain?), and their pet dinosaurs. George is the inventor of the alphabet, the wheel, and the multiplication tables – he’s the pick of the human race! But can the family survive the ravages of ice ages, global warming, storms, floods, depressions and war? Revolutionary when first written, The Skin of Our Teeth remains absurdly funny, very profound, and is absolutely a play for our time.

The Skin of Our Teeth runs November 7-23 in the Phoenix Theatre. Click here for ticket info.

• The UVic Jazz Orchestra, under the jazzy baton of Anita Bonkowski, will be performing at 8pm Friday, November 8 in the Phillip T Young Recital Hall. Tickets $10 & $15 at UVic Ticket Centre.

PQ17• A fitting work for the Remembrance Day period, School of Music professor Christopher Butterfield’s Convoy PQ-17 commemorates the tragic near-destruction of an Allied convoy by German forces in July 1942. This sensational requiem features the renowned dance troupe Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, the Victoria Philharmonic Choir, a stunning set and is conducted by Victoria Symphony Maestra Tania Miller.

Convoy PQ-17 with the Victoria Symphony begins at 2:30pm Sunday, November 10 in UVic’s Farquhar Auditorium. Click here for ticket information.

Denniston copy• The second Visiting Artist for Visual Arts this month is Toronto-based photographer Stan Denniston. Born in Victoria, Denniston’s considerable body of work reflects a consistent
commitment to the photographic medium—though one would never find a stand-alone
photograph. Instead, Denniston has cultivated several series of works that employ the
photographic image as a component, either to be paired with another image or
accompanied by text. His work revolves around the themes of travel, memory and
representation and has been exhibited at the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Biennale de Montréal as well as in France, the Netherlands and Frankfurt.

Stan Denniston speaks at 8pm Wednesday, November 20, in room A162 of the Visual Arts building—and it’s free and open to the public.

Carmen Aguirre copy• Vancouver-based actor, writer and playwright Carmen Aguirre is the latest author to appear at the long-running Department of Writing / Open Space collaborative series, Open Word: Readings and Ideas. Her 2011 book Something Fierce: Memoirs of a Revolutionary Daughter recounted her childhood experiences regularly moving around with her parents who were part of the Chilean Resistance against Augusto Pinochet. Something Fierce was also the winner of the 2012 edition of CBC Radio’s Canada Reads competition. Aguirre has also written over 20 stage plays to date, including her most recent, Blue Box. Her Open Space reading will be followed by a live interview with Writing professor and award-winning playwright Kevin Kerr.

Open Word with Carmen Aguirre begins 7:30 pm Wednesday, November 20, at Open Space, 510 Fort Street. By donation. She will also appear on campus, 8:50am Thursday, November 21, in room A240 of the Human & Social Development Building. Free.

Melting Away• Wednesday, November 20, is also the Transgender Day of Remembrance, and Writing professor and filmmaker Maureen Bradley has been invited to speak before the screening of the film Melting Away at Cinecenta, presented by UVic’s own Transgender Archives. Bradley is an apt speaker for this event, given that her own transgender romantic comedy Two 4 One is currently in pre-production for shooting in Victoria in early 2014. Bradley is also seeking financial support for the project via an Indiegogo campaign which has already raised over $13,000 of the needed $20,000—click here to donate to her project and help her film become a reality. You can also find out the backstory to this, her first feature film by reading about her winning the Jim Murphy Filmmakers Bursary, and about her being one of the winning teams for the NSI Features First initiative. You can also read more about Bradley and the Department of Writing’s filmmaking program in this recent article in UVic’s alumni Torch magazine (see pages 30-33).

sheila-heti copy• Acclaimed Canadian writer, editor and occasional actor Sheila Heti will be visiting UVic as our latest Orion Lecturer this month. An author who is never easily pigeon-holed, Heti’s fourth book—How Should A Person Be?—was described as being “part literary novel, part self-help manual and part bawdy confessional” and was chosen as one of the 100 Best Books of 2012 by The New York Times. Audiences are never quite sure what they’ll get at an evening with Heti, but it’s always bound to be memorable.

Sheila Heti speaks at 7pm Wednesday, November 27,  in room 103 of the Fine Arts building. It’s free and open to the public.

• Finally, one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the fall literary celebration occurs near the end of the month: A Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier, featuring a veritable who’s-who of national and local literary figures.

Lorna Crozier (Gary McInstry)

Lorna Crozier (Gary McInstry)

For over 20 years, Lorna Crozier helped shape the future of Canadian poets and writers as a professor in the Department of Writing. Now you can help us continue Lorna’s legacy by creating a scholarship in the name of this multiple award-winning and much-loved poet and writer. Join host Shelagh Rogers of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter at this special literary event featuring famed Canadian writers Anne Michaels (Fugitive Pieces), Jane Urquhart (The Stone Carvers) and Brad Cran (former City of Vancouver Poet Laureate) plus UVic writers Patrick Lane (There Is A Season), Esi Edugyan (Half-Blood Blues), Carla Funk (former City of Victoria Poet Laureate), Melanie Siebert (Deepwater Vee), Steven Price (The Year of the Ox) and other special guests . . . including Lorna herself!

Each audience member will also receive a special poem, written for the occasion and signed by Lorna, that will be suitable for framing.

As acting Writing chair Joan MacLeod says, “Lorna’s a brilliant poet, we all know that, but she truly was a brilliant teacher. Her legacy is already in our department in some of our amazing teachers—like Carla Funk and Steven Price, who were both students of Lorna’s and have gone on to rich writing and teaching lives. When I visit their classes now, I see Lorna through their approach to the classroom. I love the idea of the scholarship, just because it’ll be like having a little piece of Lorna still with us. And it’ll be fantastic for our students. It’s important to honour not just what she did for our students but what she did for the whole department.”

A Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier begins at 7pm Thursday, November 28, in UVic’s David Lam Theatre (MacLaurin Building A144). $20 tickets are available now with all proceeds—and any additional donations—going to the Lorna Crozier Scholarship fund.

Edugyan & Price at Russell’s

Good news for local literature lovers—not only is Russell’s Books expanding again, but they’re also kicking off a new reading series! In an age where independent bookstores seem to be vanishing faster than space in newspapers for book reviews, it’s great to see a local outfit like Russell’s breaking new ground.

Edugyan & Price

Edugyan & Price

As part of their latest expansion, Russell’s Books is now opening Russell’s Vintage, which collects all their antiquarian books in one handy spot—the former Fort Café location, downstairs at 742 Fort Street. Better still, Russell’s Vintage will also offer a stage which will host a new reading series. This week, the series kicks off with multiple award-winning author Esi Edugyan (Half-Blood Blues) and local poet and novelist Steven Price (Into That Darkness), plus poet Marita Daschsel, at 7pm Tuesday, May 14.

Books x 2Like Lorna Crozier and Patrick Lane for the next generation, the husband-and-wife team of Edugyan and Price both hail from the Writing program and have both taught for the Writing department. (They’ve even been nominated for the same award at the same time.) Come on out and support them on Tuesday night . . . after you vote. And you are going to vote, right?

Fine Arts at IdeaFest

IdeaFest is coming up soon at UVic and Fine Arts is all over the programming this year!

ideafestWith more than 50 ideas worth exploring, UVic’s second annual IdeaFest looks pretty exciting. Running March 4-15 in every corner of campus, this free festival connects you to experts working on the kind of ideas that really can change everything—whether you’re a rocket scientist, artist, gamer, zombie fan or something else entirely.

New and emerging research will be brought to life in panels, workshops, exhibits, lectures, performances, film screenings and tours. Ideas up for discussion run the gamut of political upheaval, creativity, heart health, Canada’s north, urban planning, big data, #IdleNoMore and whether or not English should emerge as a global language—just to name a handful.

Take a few minutes to browse through the full program on the IdeaFest 2013 website— the hardest part will be deciding which idea to start with!

Here’s a quick breakdown of what Fine Arts has on tap:

Enacting the ArtistEnacting the Artist / Researcher / Educator: Six UVic applied theatre graduate students engaged in a theatre-based PhD research project will discuss utilizing playbuilding as qualitative research, as well as a variety of theatre conventions as a way to generate, interpret and (re)present data. The result is a devised play about enacting the artist/researcher/educator with a post-show dialogue. 2-4pm Monday, March 4, in room 109 of the Fine Arts building.

Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards: Celebrate some of the outstanding research produced by the 2012 Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards scholars at this day-long presentation of their work. Here’s a list of who’s representing Fine Arts, but you can read abstracts of their research here: Sara Fruchtman, Alexandra Macdonald and Christine Oldridge (History in Art), Stewart Gibbs, Sarah Johnson and Jennifer Taylor (Theatre), Bronwyn McMillin and Willie Seo (Visual Arts), Claire Garneau and Liz Snell (Writing). The JCURA runs 11am-3pm Wednesday, March 6, in the SUB’s Cinecenta, Upper Lounge and Michele Pujol room.

Film FestMini Film Fest: Join some of the Department of Writing’s emerging filmmakers for a screening and discussion of several recent, award-winning student films—including the Leo Award-winning web series Freshman’s Wharf, and Connor Gaston’s recent TIFF and VFF-screened short, Bardo Light. 7:30 pm Thursday, March 7, in room 162 of the Visual Arts building.

Sonic LabSonic Lab: Join UVic’s contemporary music ensemble as they present two compositions that explore the sound itself as musical material. Imagine a brick wall with a human figure painted on it, which can be taken apart & rebuilt as a fence or a house—meaning the parts of painted body would show up in an unexpected context. The same happens here, where usual & unusual sounds will be taken apart and put together in a new context. 8pm Friday, March 8, in the Phillip T Young Recital Hall.

  “Have you ever had an idea?” Get in on this interactive, community-involving project aimed at enabling ideas to be more accessible and more attainable. Participants become part of Victoria’s biggest idea—a giant run-on sentence created by texting, calling or e-mailing in their ideas. It all culiminates in an installation with video & audio components of real-time projection, discussions, idea-counseling, etc. 7-10pm Friday, March 8, in room A111 of the Visual Arts building.

Games Without• “Games Without Frontiers: The Social Power of Video Games”: Join professors, grad students, undergraduates, high-school students, local game designers and curious citizens of Victoria at this mini-conference to explore, discuss and marvel at the power of video-game technology to bring people together and improve the world. Faculty and students will give demonstrations and offer a Q&A about the innovative use of “gamification” techniques in their research, including games that help to improve the lives of children with autism, teach about First Nations treaties, combat obesity and explore the ocean floor, among others.

Don't miss the Minecraft documentary

Don’t miss the Minecraft documentary

Other events will include demonstrations of new games by students and local designers, a “journalism game jam” to apply game tools to improve public-service reporting, various competitions and panels of local experts to debate the power, the pitfalls and the future of game design. The UVic student music ensemble Flipside will also be performing a selection of video game soundtracks (1:30-3pm), and Cinecenta will be hosting a screening of the documentary Minecraft: The Story of Mojang, a look behind the scenes of the popular online game, with an Orion-sponsored talk and Q&A with the Portland-based filmmakers from 2 Player Productions to follow—that’s at 7:15 pm Friday, March 8, at Cinecenta. Games without Frontiers runs 11:30am-6pm Saturday, March 9, in the David Strong building.

“Is There Still Potential for Human Creativity?” A good question, and one which promises a lively back and forth at this Fine Arts discussion panel featuring Jennifer Stillwell (Visual Arts), George Tzanetakis (Computer Science-Music), Lee Henderson (Writing), Victoria Wyatt (History in Art), Jonathan Goldman (Music). Moderated by the Times Colonist‘s Dave Obee. 7:30pm Monday, March 11,  in B150 of the Bob Wright Centre.

Fine Arts PechaKucha: Unfortunately, this event has been cancelled.

IndiaIntergenerational Theatre for Development in India: After being displaced by the 2006 tsunami, a new community in India is using Applied Theatre to reconnect its citizens. The creation of an intergenerational theatre company to perform the stories of seniors and rural youth of the Tamilnadu community has the potential to create lines of dialogue across generations by positively highlighting the life experiences of residents of Tamaraikulam Elders’ Village and students of the Isha Vidhya Matriculation School. Theatre PhD student Matthew Gusul recently visited India and will tell the story of this developing project. 4:45pm Thursday, March 14, in the Phoenix Theatre’s McIntyre Studio.

BC book prized

Esi Edugyan at the 2011 Giller Prize

Chalk up another win for long-lasting local literary luminary Esi Edugyan, who took home the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize at the BC Book Prizes on the weekend for her sophomore novel, Half-Blood Blues.

Edugyan’s novel of persecuted black jazz musicians in WWII-era Occupied Europe triumphed over Michael Christie’s The Beggar’s Garden, Frances Greenslade’s Shelter and Once You Break a Knuckle by Department of Writing graduate and next-big-thing author D.W. Wilson. Ironically, the post-earthquake Victoria novel Into That Darkness by Edugyan’s husband Steven Price—also a Writing grad and frequent sessional instructor in the department—was also nominated in the same category.

In addition to the Wilson fiction prize, the BC Book Prizes also include the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize (won by Charlotte Gill for her tree-planting memoir Eating Dirt), the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize (crawlspace, by John Pass, which beat out The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane by retired Writing department superstar Patrick Lane), the Roderick Haig-Brown Regional Prize (The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver, by the late Chuck Davis), the Sheila A. Egoff Children’s Literature Prize (Blood Red Roadby Moira Young), the Christie Harris Illustrated Children’s Literature Prize (When I Was Small by Sara O’Leary,illustrated by Julie Morstad) and the Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award (which also went to The Chuck Davis History of Metropolitan Vancouver). Previously announced was the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence, which went to Salt Spring Island poet and author Brian Brett.

Hosted by author and comic Charles Demers at a gala in Vancouver on Saturday May 12, the BC Book Prizes each carry a cash prize of $2,000, plus a certificate . . . and, of course, bragging rights.

Still pending for Edugyan? Her nominations for the £30,000 Orange Prize, to be announced May 30, and the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize, coming June 16.

U + M = Winners!

Monday Magazine‘s 10th annual M Awards were handed out on April 24 and—no big surprise—a number of Fine Arts faculty and alum were once again among the winners and shortlisted nominees! (Handed out annually to the movers and shakers in Victoria’s arts and cultural scene, these reader-voted awards were actually started back in 2002 by a pair of then-Monday editors with mighty UVic connections: Fine Arts communications honcho John Threlfall and Writing sessional instructor Alisa Gordaneer—both of whom are also UVic alumni.)

Congrats go out this year to Writing prof Lorna Crozier, whose Small Mechanics won “Favourite Book of Poetry”, as well as shortlisted nominees Carla Funk (whose Apologetic was up against Crozier in the poetry category) and Digital Media staffer Dan Hogg (for “Biggest Supporter of Local Film”).

No surprise that a number of alumni were among the winners, too, given our faculty’s ongoing presence in the local arts scene. Big-deal Writing grad Esi Edugyan‘s Half-Blood Blues swept the “Favourite Fiction Book” category (forget about the Giller or that still pending possible Orange Prize—Esi can retire happily now that she’s won an M!), and fellow Writing alum Jeremy Lutter was named “Favourite Filmmaker” (for his recent Victoria Film Festival award-winning Joanna Makes A Friend).

The UVic-heavy Ride The Cyclone

The Department of Theatre also figured prominently in the winner’s list, led by Ian Case, the just-appointed director of our own University Centre Farquhar Auditorium, who was named “Biggest Supporter of Local Theatre” (no doubt for his work with Intrepid Theatre, Victoria Shakespeare Society, William Head on Stage, and Giggling Iguana’s Craigdarroch Castle shows). Britt Small picked up “Favourite Director” in a co-win with Jacob Richmond for their Ride The Cyclone remount; Ride The Cyclone—which starred a number of Theatre alumni (Rielle Braid, Matthew Coulson, Kholby Wardell and Sarah Jane Pelzer)—also picked up “Favourite Overall Production”.

Theatre prof Brian Richmond was shortlisted in the “Favourite Director” category (which he lost to his son, Jacob) for his 2011 Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?—the star of which, Meg Tilly, also picked up “Favourite Performer”. Former Theatre student Melissa Blank was also shortlisted in that same category, for her performance in Theatre Inconnu’s A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. (Inconnu is run by Theatre grad and sessional instructor Clayton Jevne.)

Janet Munsil

Finally, the Victoria Fringe Festival won the oddly named “Favourite Non-Music Event or Festival.” The local Fringe is run by Intrepid Theatre, which is itself run by Theatre grad and noted playwirght Janet Munsil (and, until last month, Ian Case). The Victoria Fringe is a regular showcase for Phoenix talent, graduates and students both, including the likes of Fringe gods TJ Dawe (undisputed king of the solo monologue) and Charles Ross (of One Man Star Wars / Lord of the Rings fame).

Winners receive a Phillip’s growler bottle, to be filled (and refilled) with their brew of choice; shortlisted nominees receive the warm, inner glow of a job well done and a hearty round of applause for their continued efforts to keep Victoria’s arts scene healthy and thriving!

Authors, Authors!

Esi Edugyan accepting her Giller Prize last year (Tyler Anderson/National Post)

Perennial headline-maker Esi Edugyan is back in the news this week with word that she’s now on the shortlist for Britain’s Orange Prize, the prestigious writing prize for fiction by women. One of only six finalists—down from 20 on the longlist—Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues is proving to have real staying power, given its recent nomination for the UK’s Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction as well.The Orange Prize comes with a £30,000 purse, while the Scott nets a sweet £25,000.

For the Orange Prize, Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues is up against Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies, Madeleine Miller’s The Song of Achilles, Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz, Georgina Harding’s Painter of Silence and Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder. (Patchett won the prize in 2002 for Bel Canto.)

For the Scott Prize, Edugyan is once again up against Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, who was earlier among her competition for the Man Booker Prize (won by Julian Barnes), the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award (both won by, deWitt) and the Giller (which Edugyan took home). Other competitors include Sebastian Barry’s On Canaan’s Side, Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child, Andrew Miller’s Pure and Barry Unsworth’s The Quality of Mercy.

The Orange Prize winner is announced May 30, while the Walter Scott Prize winner will be announced June 16.

Lorna Crozier (Gary McInstry)

In other related Department of Writing news, poetry professor Lorna Crozier will be the featured guest at a special Canadian Club evening celebrating arts and culture on April 18, as a way of honouring National Poetry Month. Rightly dubbed a national treasure, the much-lauded and much-published Distinguished Professor will be speaking and reading at this special event, which will also feature music by singer Tim Kyle and pianist Bob LeBlanc. Socializing starts at 5:30pm on April 18, with dinner at 6pm. Tickets are $35, and you can call to register at 250-370-1837.

In other National Poetry Month news, Crozier and Tim Lilburn (as well as sessional instructor Patrick Friesen and Malahat Review editor John Barton) were mentioned in this Vancouver Sun piece about the state of Canadian poetry. And noted alum Billeh Nickerson was profiled in the Sun for his new (and timely) collection of poetry, Impact: The Titanic Poems.

Associate Dean and busy editor Lynne Van Luven will be launching her latest creation, In the Flesh: Twenty Writers Explore the Body (Brindle & Glass, $24.95). Co-edited by Van Luven and Kathy Page, In the Flesh features contributions by the likes of Taiaiake Alfred, Dede Crane, Candace Fertile, Julian Gunn, Margaret Thompson, Brian Brett, Lorna Crozier plus Van Luven and Page themselves (among others).

Described as “an intelligent, witty, and provocative look at how we think about—and live within—our bodies,” In the Flesh offers a series of candid essays that allows each author to focus on one part of the body, and explores its function, its meanings, and the role it has played in his or her life.

The local launch happens at 2:30pm Sunday, April 29, at (appropriately enough) the Fernwood Yoga Den, 1311 Gladstone. Van Luven, Page and Gunn will be on CBC Radio One’s North By Northwest arts & culture show on the weekend of April 28-29 (show airs 6-9am Saturday & Sunday), and will also be on CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter with Sheilagh Rogers on May 21, with a repeat on May 26.

Writing alum Yasuko Thanh is getting good attention for her debut collection of short stories, Floating Like The Dead. She also appeared on North by Northwest—you can listen to the podcast of that interview here—and was profiled by Adrian Chamberlain in the April 22 issue of the Times Colonist, which you can read here.

Finally, the rumour mill confirms that Giller-nominated sessional instructor and short fiction writer John Gould is involved in creating a new Victoria Writers Festival. Details are slim at the moment, but it’s being organized by Gould and local writers Sara Cassidy and Julie Paul, who describe themselves as “a collective of writers who deeply miss the International Literary Arts Festival that was the highlight of spring in Victoria for many years.” The debut fest is slated for October 12-13 at . . . Camosun College, whose English department is sponsoring it.

Voting Time

Nope, this isn’t an advance call for the upcoming fall elections, nor is it a roundup of the Super Tuesday results from south of the border. It’s simply time once again for Monday Magazine‘s annual M Awards—where a healthy crop of UVic talent can again be found among the nominees.

While there is space for write-in nominations in ever category—meaning groups like Philomela Women’s Choir could be nominated as Favourite Vocal Ensemble, busy graduate student filmmaker Scott Amos could be tagged as Favourite Local Filmmaker, or Visual Arts graduate student Dong-Kyoon Nam could be highlighted as Favourite Emerging Visual Artist—listed below are the categories and nominees who have a UVic affiliation.

Deadline for voting is 5 pm Friday, March 23, and you can vote either by picking up a copy of the paper, filling out the ballot and then returning it, or by using the infinitely quicker online ballot. Winners will be announced in April 26 issue of Monday Magazine.

Here are the relevant nominees and their categories, with some UVic-affiliated alternative choices:

• Favourite New Production
Inside — Phoenix Theatre
(Alternate: SNAFU Dance Theatre’s Little Orange Man, created by and starring Phoenix alum Ingrid Hansen)

Cobi Dayan, Genevieve Dale& Mik Byskov in Twelfth Night (photo: David Lowes)

• Favourite Overall Production
Twelfth Night — Phoenix Theatre
(Alternates: Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? directed by Theatre prof Brian Richmond; Theatre Inconnu’s A Day in the Death of Joe Egg, directed by sessional Theatre instructor Clayton Jevne; Atomic Vaudeville’s Ride the Cyclone—which is also up for Favourite Musical—co-directed by Theatre alum Britt Small and starring a whole whack o’ Phoenix alum)

• Favourite Director
Linda Hardy — Twelfth Night
(Alternate: Brian Richmond, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; Jacob Richmond and Britt Small, Ride the Cyclone)

He said, she said: Price vs. Edugyan—the literary battle that had to happen!

• Favourite Fiction Book
Half Blood Blues Esi Edugyan
Into That Darkness Steven Price
(Oooh, a husband-and-wife race! How exciting!)

• Favourite Non-Fiction Book
Come From the Shadows — Terry Glavin
(Alternate: Campie by Writing alum Barbara Stewart)

• Favourite Book of Poetry
ApologeticCarla Funk
Small Mechanics — Lorna Crozier
(Oooh, a departmental showdown! How nervewracking!)

Just a reminder that any nominated individuals must live in Greater Victoria—or have lived here for part of 2011—and performances/shows/events must have taken place in Greater Victoria in 2011. For publications and recordings, publisher/label can be outside Victoria, but writer/artist must be from Greater Victoria and the work issued in 2011.

 

Year of Edugyan

In the no-big-surprise department, former Writing instructor, celebrated alumna and 2011 literary It-girl Esi Edugyan appeared in a number of year-end best-of lists for her Giller Prize-winning and Man Booker/ Governor General/ Writer’s Trust-nominated sophomore novel, Half-Blood Blues. (Heck, my mom even got it for Christmas!)

Adrian Chamberlain of the local Times Colonist newspaper noted that “Victoria’s writerly reputation was confirmed dramatically” by Edugyan’s “astonishing year,” Mark Medley of the National Post named her one of the two Canadian authors of the year (along with fellow multi-nominated writer Patrick DeWitt) and John Barber of the Globe and Mail said that, with the collapse of publisher H.B. Fenn and its Key Porter imprint, “2011 began ominously for independent Canadian publishers and then quickly turned to roses. Rescued from the Key Porter wreckage, Half-Blood Blues became the most popular title ever published by Thomas Allen & Son, with 100,000 copies on the market and a stable perch overlooking James Patterson and Stephen King on Canadian bestseller lists.”

Quill and Quire also reports it was the most popular title in the Toronto Public Library in 2011, with Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table in second place and DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers rounding out the top three. Alas, if you were hoping to check it out of the Greater Victoria Public Library system, you’d better get in line—as of this post, there are 399 holds on 82 copies . . . but you could always reserve Edugyan’s debut novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, which currently only has 41 holds on five copies.

Edugyan also appeared on the year-end cover of local entertainment weekly Monday Magazine, where writer Reyhana Heatherington said she “learned from some of Canada’s top literary stars” while studying here at UVic.

“I studied with so many great teachers,” Edugyan is quoted as saying. “Patrick Lane was my first great teacher. I found myself following poetry because he was so inspiring. The calibre of guidance was so amazing. Jack Hodgins, Lorna Crozier, Bill Gaston—such a high level of instruction. They can’t teach you to write if you’re not inclined that way. But what [school] does is cut the apprenticeship time down. Peer reviews prepare writers for working with an editor in a professional capacity.”

And in the January 8, 2012, edition of the Times Colonist, Adrian Chamberlain ran a new interview with Edugyan, a long profile featuring insights from her former Department of Writing instructors, Bill Gaston (“You always say, ‘this one could be the next Michael Ondaatje.’ You can’t predict, but she was one of those”) and Jack Hodgins (who was “amazed at her ability to inhabit the voices of vastly different characters authentically.”) Chamberlain also mentions rumours of a Half-Blood Blues film adaptation, about which a “close-lipped” Edugyan says, while noting there is nothing concrete, “There’s some discussion—yeah, actually.”