I have to start by saying that I love #doingmyjob here in Toronto. I get to learn about and collaborate with some amazing people, products and “people products” in our city and I have spent a long time designing my life in to be able to do so. On March 19th we here at PRODUCT got to participate in what I think is an incredible example of the power of collaboration. The Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize have sponsored more than 90 artists since its inception in 2002. Canadian artists include Daniel Barrow (2013), Jillian Mcdonald (2012), Helen Cho (2011), Damian Moppett (2010), Arabella Campbell (2009), Dave Dyment (2008), Jonathon Kaiser (2007), Annie Pootoogook (2006) and Myfanwy Macleod (2005).
The artistic team of Winnipeg-born, self-proclaimed nomad, Rhonda Weppler and Calgary-born, Toronto-based Trevor Mahovsky, has been awarded the 2014 Canadian Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize for their collaborative work which takes an innovative sculptural approach to still life. By combining handmade craft and improvised materials, their inventive work is an artistic translation of the complex identity of everyday objects as cultural artifacts.
The Weppler and Mahovsky shared-win makes the pair one of only ten recipients in the world awarded the art community’s coveted 2014 Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize – to live and work at the distillery in Dufftown, Scotland. While in Dufftown the artists live in crofts and are encouraged to find inspiration from the pastoral setting in the Scottish Highlands. One of the specific benefits is to work in an international artists’ community, to share in a dialogue with one another and to foster cross-disciplinary ideas. The Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize covers the cost of travel, living expenses and working materials during the residency. The three-month residency, valued at $20,000 per artist, (or collaborative pairing), represents the Glenfiddich commitment to the arts and the communities it serves.
Andy Fairgrieve, curator of the Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize was first to share the news from Dufftown, “We are excited to have our first collaborative pairing from Canada. Weppler’s and Mahovsky’s use of materials, tied so closely to those that are central to the crafting of Glenfiddch (copper and wood) promises to provide an outcome significantly tied into the unique opportunity that is the Glenfiddich experience.”
Weppler and Mahovsky issued a joint statement, “We are so honoured to be selected for the Glenfiddich residency. It gives us a much appreciated chance to connect with other artists from around the world in a unique location. The Glenfiddich Prize is such a huge reward. We are so grateful that this program exists, not just for ourselves but for what it means to artists in general.”
Glenfiddich hosted an amazing evening at The Spoke Club here in Toronto, where guests were able to meet and mingle with the Prize Winners, past and present as well as a good majority of the Prize jury, including Toronto’s own Dr. Sara Diamond, president of OCAD University. We were all treated to some lovely Glenfiddich cocktails as well as a tasting of three sensational products – including the Glenfiddich 18 Year Old, the Glenfiddich Malt Master’s Edition and one very unique “Not Scotch Whisky”. Selected by Glenfiddich Art Curator, Andy Fairgrieve, this special “Not Scotch Whisky” was created by the 2007 Spanish Glenfiddich Artists in Residence Prize recipient, Luis Bisbe. Bisbe laid down a cask of Glenfiddich but before doing so placed a broom through the middle of the cask. Because of this broom being placed inside the cask we cannot call this Scotch whisky due to regulations put in place by the Scotch Whisky Association. The spirit itself is quite typical of Glenfiddich for this age – light and floral, with youthful cereal notes. This is beautifully complemented with subtle aromas of pine and citrus. It is sweet on the palate with a lovely finish. The audience was the first in the world to taste Glenfiddich’s “Not Scotch Whisky”. It is an artist’s expression and will never be available for sale. Truly a special treat!
Thank you to everyone involved in this wonderful evening celebrating art and culture and everything in between. It is truly an honour to witness this collaboration and support for art and Canada held here in Toronto.
Check out our photo gallery with photography by the darling Tara Noelle as well as PRODUCT TV’s coverage of the event, we got to sit down and talk with Rhonda and Trevor as well as Beth-Anne Thomas (National Brand Manager, Glenfiddich Canada) and Dr. Sara Diamond.
WORDS: KYLE KOFSKY
PHOTOS: TARA NOELLE
VIDEO: BRAD SILVERBERG