Diana Thorneycroft is the 2016 Manitoba Arts Award of Distinction recipient. The recognition comes with $30,000 for the artist, and is the Manitoba Arts Council’s award for the highest level of excellence and long-term achievements of an artist in Manitoba.
“Congratulations to Diana for this well-deserved recognition. It is a remarkable achievement to be recognized by your peers and awarded this honour. It speaks to Diana’s innovative work which continues to provoke thought and expand our understanding of the world that surrounds us.”
Aimée Craft, Chair of the Manitoba Arts Council
Known for making art that hovers on the edge of public acceptance, Thorneycroft has pursued topics that often challenged her viewing audience. She arrived on the national art scene in the early 1990s with her highly charged black and white self-portraits photographs that explored issues around sexual identity and the body in pain. In 1999 her installation Monstrance, which involved the corpses of rabbits, became a flashpoint for conversations around government funding. From 2005-2015 Thorneycroft’s interest in Canadian identity emerged as she completed four different bodies of work that investigated and subverted notions of “Canadian-ness”.
“For many Manitoba artists, Diana is a mentor. She is continually giving of herself as an investment towards the success of others. As a teacher and advisor, she has fostered values that reflect her own: professionalism, artistic excellence and risk-taking. In many ways, the arts community benefits from her support, resourcefulness, volunteerism and engagement. This award not only recognizes her artistic achievements, but also represents a full community of artists and patrons’ appreciation for everything she does.”
Yvette Cenerini, Nominator, and Chair, Award Committee, Mentoring Artists for Women Artists
Thorneycroft’s most recent body of work is an installation entitled Herd. A major component is the presentation of 150 plastic toy horses (half of which have been altered), ascending a 40 foot ramp. The transformed horses transgress boundaries pertaining to beauty, vulnerability and the grotesque. Herd opened at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound on April 3rd, 2016, and will subsequently tour to several other venues in Canada.
“Receiving this award is a validation of the risks I have taken as an artist. Although it sometimes gets me into trouble, I have always endeavored to make work that is authentic and honest. As a feminist and teacher, I hope to be a role model to younger artists seeking to express – without censorship – their own voice. I am deeply grateful to be nominated by MAWA, and to my peers who selected me for this honour. As always, I feel fortunate to live in such a vibrant and supportive community.”
Diana Thorneycroft, 2016 Manitoba Art Award of Distinction Recipient
Thorneycroft is the recipient of numerous awards including an Assistance to Visual Arts Long-term Grant from the Canada Council, several Senior Arts Grants from the Manitoba Arts Council and a Fleck Fellowship from the Banff Centre for the Arts. She has exhibited various bodies of work across Canada, the United States and Europe, as well as in Moscow, Tokyo and Sydney., and was a sessional instructor at the University of Manitoba’s School of Art for 25 years. Since 2010 she has been focusing on her studio practice full time, and has gallery representation in Paris, Los Angeles, Detroit, Calgary, Winnipeg, London (Ontario) and Montreal.
Thorneycroft lives in Winnipeg with her partner artist Michael Boss.
More information about Diana Thorneycroft and her work is at www.dianathorneycroft.com
Previous Award of Distinction recipients include: Robert Archambeau (2014), J. Roger Léveillé (2012), William Eakin (2009), Roland Mahé (2008), Dr. Robert Turner (2007), Aganetha Dyck (2006), Guy Maddin (2005), Grant Guy (2004), Robert Kroetsch (2003), and Leslee Silverman (2002).