Kelowna born artist Erin Shirreff wins top Canadian photography prize

Shirreff, who now lives and works in New York, has been named this year's recipient of the $50,000 Aimia-AGO Photography Prize.

Kelowna born and raised artist Erin Shirreff is was named winner of the Aimia-AGO Photography Prize

Kelowna born and raised artist Erin Shirreff is was named winner of the Aimia-AGO Photography Prize

A photographer from Kelowna has won Canada’s leading photography prize.

Erin Shirreff, who now lives and works in New York City and whose work has gained international recognition for its unique interweaving of photography, video and sculpture, was awarded the Aimia-AGO Photography Prize at the Art Gallery of Ontario last night. The prize includes $50,000 and a fully funded, six- to eight-week residency in Canada next year.

Her work has been the subject of recent solo exhibitions in Vancouver, London and  Kingston, Ont. and is in the collections of prestigious internationally recognized museums such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Shirreff was selected by public vote after a record 25,000 votes were cast during the 10- week voting period, which closed on Nov. 5. Runners-up included Edgardo Aragón (Mexico), LaToya Ruby Frazier (United States) and Chino Otsuka (Japan/United Kingdom). Each runner-up received a $5,000 stipend dedicated to the research, creation and production of new work and they will also be offered six- to eight-week fully funded residencies in Canada next year.

Voting began on Aug. 27, 2013, at and on the Prize’s Facebook page. The public also had the opportunity to vote at the AGO, inside the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize 2013 exhibition, or to view at the gallery until Jan. 5, 2014.

The exhibition features two of Shirreff’s long-duration videos, Lake and Moon, both of which extend and explore the act of looking. Constructed from hundreds of individual photographs captured in her studio, these works collapse time and place as they fluctuate between natural and artificial effects, stillness and motion. Lake features an image of the Okanagan Valley, near her hometown of Kelowna.

“There was an incredible amount of talent among this year’s shortlisted artists and we were thrilled to see the enormous response from the public, who voted by the thousands, in record numbers,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, director and CEO of the AGO prior to the public announcement of the winner. “In partnership with Aimia, the prize is truly innovative in its accessibility and broad support of Canadian and international contemporary photography.”

“We offer our sincerest congratulations to Erin Shirreff and all of the shortlisted artists,” said Vince Timpano, president and CEO of Aimia in Canada. “Supporting the arts is a key pillar of Aimia’s social purpose, and through our partnership with the AGO, we are honoured to be able to recognize such talented contemporary photography artists here in Canada and around the world.”

Previous winners of the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize, formerly known as The Grange Prize, include Jo Longhurst of the U.K. (2012), Gauri Gill of India (2011), Canadian photographer Kristan Horton (2010), Marco Antonio Cruz of Mexico (2009) and Canadian photographer Sarah Anne Johnson (2008).

The Aimia | AGO Photography Prize is Canada’s leading photography prize and one of the largest arts and culture prize programs in the world. The prize awards more than $85,000 directly to artists working in photography each year, and is comprised of an annual exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, an online exhibition at, international artist residencies, public programming, as well as an extensive national scholarship program.


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