A nine-member jury has named Vancouver's Colleen Heslin the winner of the 2013 RBC Canadian Painting Competition. Prevailing over 14 other finalists from around the country, Heslin, 37, received the $25,000 top prize Wednesday evening at a gala in the National Gallery in Ottawa. Named as runners-up were Toronto painter Neil Harrison and Ottawa's Colin Muir Dorward, each of whom was awarded $15,000.
Heslin, a graduate of Vancouver's Emily Carr University of Art and Design who is currently taking an MFA at Concordia University in Montreal, won for Almost young and wild and free, a large work of ink, dye and acrylic paint on cotton. In a statement, the jury of scholars, critics, dealers, artists and curators said it was "very struck with the freshness [of the artist's] approach to the practice of painting, her play with surface and depth and her invocation of the time-honoured pursuit of mending and making in the medium of textiles. Moving beyond the traditional practices of painting through her use of stitchery and staining, Heslin suggests a stepping-off point for where painting can go, a formally elegant update on the medium's perennial questions."
Heslin's work, along with Harrison's Fig. 13 Knowledge and Muir Dorward's Labyrinthineon, now becomes a permanent part of the RBC Corporate Art Collection, currently numbering more than 4,000 pieces. All works by the 15 finalists are on display at Ottawa's National Gallery of Canada through Oct. 13, with another showcase set for the Art Toronto fair Oct. 24 to 28.
This year is the 15th anniversary of the competition that annually recognizes young and/or emerging painting talent across the country. To commemorate the anniversary, the total prize money was hiked to $115,000, with each of the remaining 12 finalists receiving $5,000. Since its start in 1999 more than 200 painters have been short-listed for the prize.