On Saturday May 2, 2009, the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (NLAC) held its 24th annual Arts Awards Show and Gala at the Reid Theatre in St. John’s. The annual Arts Awards honour the accomplishments of Newfoundland and Labrador’s artists.
NLAC Chair Camelita McGrath said, “This year’s winners represent artists who are achieving excellence in their fields both at home and away."
The winner of the Rogers Arts Achievement Award was Uncle Jim Anderson of Makkovik.
James Anderson of Makkovik has been taking pictures for over six decades. Last May an exhibition of his work, James Anderson: Over 50 Years of Taking Pictures, was presented at The Rooms Provincial Archives. It consisted of 80 large colour photographs along with numerous sound recordings of Anderson.
His photographs are a legacy of a lifestyle now gone; they capture candid moments, everyday work activities, and the special events of Makkovik. Church services, jamborees and get-togethers; buildings, industry, and the passing seasons; men and women fishing in boats, working on wharves, and riding snowmobiles.
The complete collection contains some 297 black and white photographs; 1700 slides; 75 hours of VHS cassettes, and 84 hours of 8mm and Hi8mm tape analogue recordings.
Known to many as “Uncle Jim”, he has long been a central part of life in Makkovik: as the dog-team mailman, a fisherman, the post master, an elder at the church, and a musician. For 40 years he helped his late wife Susie run a boarding house.
He was introduced to photography as a teenager, when an English missionary taught him how to develop black and white photos. He bought a Kodak Jiffy 35 mm camera from the Eaton’s catalogue and started to capture the moments he thought important. Self taught and intuitive, his use of angle, perspective, contrast, focus, composition, and framing have evolved by trial and error, experimentation, sensitivity, and perseverance.
He says he never gets tired of looking at his pictures. “They comfort me,” he says, “It’s a contribution I hope will give joy to my viewers.”
His relentless artistic drive and the resulting collection of photographs are unmatched. It’s an outstanding contribution to the cultural life of this province.
Photo of Uncle Jim getting his award here:
CBC Radio Podcast of Weekend Arts Magazine's Angela Antle introducing Uncle Jim, and his thank you speech: