Consider it proof-positive that Nova Scotia has one of the richest visual arts scenes in Canada: On Tuesday, the Sobey Award—the country's top prize for visual art—named not one but three local artists to its annual long list.
Alan Syliboy, Aislinn Thomas and Séamus Gallagher are among the 25 artists named in the national long list. (The list is sub-divided by region, with five artists repping Atlantic Canada.) Syliboy's works are inspired by the Mi'kmaq rock drawing and quillwork of his heritage, and are known for their vivid use of colour and layering of symbols. Thomas, meanwhile, is an interdisciplinary artist who works in installation, text, sculpture, performance and video—often exploring themes around disability and access. As for Gallagher? The artist is known for mixed-media and VR-based works, often fuelled by climate anxiety and pop culture in equal measure.
The winner of the Sobey Art Award receives $100,000, while the remaining shortlisted artists each take home $25,000. The short list (which comprises five names) will be announced June 7, while the winner will be named Nov. 18.
The 2023 long list marks a strong showing for our city, which has often been overlooked during the award's 22-year tenure. So far the only time someone from the east coast took home the Sobey Award was Ursula Johnson in 2017.