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March 7, 2016

Mark Lewis honoured by Governor-General’s Awards


James Adams / The Globe and Mail

Canada’s most famous living photographer, the country’s representative at the 2009 Venice Biennale and a textile artist from Salt Spring Island, B.C., are among the eight winners of the 17th-annual Governor-General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts, it was announced Monday morning in Ottawa by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Each of the laureates, honoured for lifetime achievement, receives $25,000 in cash and will be recognized by Governor-General David Johnston at a ceremony March 23 at Rideau Hall. This year’s winners are evenly split between men and women, with the single largest bloc of winners, four, based in Ontario.

Filmmaker and photographer Mark Lewis, born in Hamilton in 1958, studied art in England in the early 1980s, then returned to Canada, living first in Toronto, followed by an eight-year residency in Vancouver starting in 1989. London is now Lewis’s home base but he frequently returns to work in Canada; in 2009 he was chosen to represent the country at its pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale. As the critic Nancy Tousley has noted, “Lewis works with film as if it were a sculptural material. He demonstrates its inherent difference from other kinds of picture-making and shows how it works.” Like Burtynsky, Lewis has an international following, his work collected by the Museum of Modern Art, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the National Gallery of Canada. He was the first winner of Canada’s $25,000 Gershon Iskowitz Prize in 2007.