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John Greer's Origins, 1995 stands outside the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia ((John Greer/AGNS))

Toronto architect Raymond Moriyama, who designed the Canadian War Museum, and Nova Scotia sculptor John Greer are among eight Canadians named winners of the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts on Tuesday.

The other winners, announced in Ottawa, are:

  • Nobuo Kubota, an installation/performance artist from Toronto.
  • Rita Lynn McKeough, an installation/performance artist from Calgary.
  • Gordon Smith, a painter from West Vancouver.
  • Robert Morin,  a director and filmmaker from Montreal.
  • Kim Ondaatje, a painter and filmmaker from Verona, Ont., and sculptor Anthony Urquhart of Stratford, Ont. , who share the outstanding contribution award.

Kevin Lockau, a glass artist from Bancroft, Ont., won the Saidye Bronfman Award given annually for excellence in fine crafts.

Lockau invented three hot glass casting techniques, which he uses to create sculptures that combine animal, natural and human forms.  He also developed the glass studio at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont., where he taught for 20 years.

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Toronto architect Raymond Moriyama designed the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. ((Martin Lipman/Canada Council for the Arts))

Moriyama, who also designed the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto and Science North in Sudbury, Ont., is known for buildings that encourage civic engagement.

Born in Vancouver, he was interned with his Japanese-Canadian family during the Second World War but was determined to study architecture. He formed the Toronto firm Moriyama & Teshima in 1958.

He is known internationally for work on buildings such as the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo and the National Museum of Saudi Arabia.

Key part of sculpture movement

Greer, the sculptor who created the memorial to Canadian Aid Workers in Ottawa, and Origins, 1995, which is permanently at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, was a catalyst of the 1990s Halifax Sculpture movement.

A teacher at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design for over 25 years, he is now a full-time sculptor, working out of Lahave, N.S.

Kubota is a multimedia artist who incorporates music and sound techniques into his installations and videos. He also creates minimalist sculpture and paintings.

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Calgary artist Rita McKeough is also a performer. ((Martin Lipman/Canada Council for the Arts))

His work, influenced by his study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese Shintoism, has been collected by Canada's major art institutions.

McKeough, an instructor at the Alberta College of Art and Design, is also a drummer in a rock band and performs regularly at small Calgary venues.

Her performances and installations touch on issues such as displacement, domestic abuse and ecological damage.

Morin has created more than 30 short, medium- and feature-length films that have earned him numerous prizes in Canada and overseas.

Among his works are Le Nèg, a 2003 film that won a Jutra award and was among the top 10 at the Toronto International Film Festival; Que Dieu bénisse L'Amerique (May God Bless America); La femme étrangère (The Woman from Elsewhere); and Requiem pour un beau sans-coeur.

A DVD box set of his video works, titled The Videomaker's Journey (1976-1997), was released in 2002. He is completing his latest project, Journal d'un coopérant, which is being shot in Burundi.

Smith, one of Canada's leading modernist painters, first attracted national attention for his award-winning Structure with Red Sun at the First Biennial of Canadian Painting in 1955.

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Wet Night, by West Vancouver artist Gordon Smith. ((VAG/Trevor Mills))

His work often reflects West Coast landscapes.  Now 90, he continues to work in his West Vancouver studio every day.

Urquhart and Ondaatje worked with the late Jack Chambers to establish a fee structure for visual artists similar to the one used by actors and musicians.

They travelled the country for years with CARFAC (Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens) to help raise awareness about the needs of visual artists. 

Both also maintained careers in the visual arts, Ondaatje as a painter and filmmaker and Urquhart with his box sculptures.

The awards will be presented by Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean at a ceremony at Rideau Hall on March 25.

Each of the winners receives $25,000 and a work created by printmaker Kenojuak Ashevak, winner of a 2008 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts.