by Barbara Black
The Brucebo Fine Art Scholarship Foundation has found a new
home. Long administered by a McGill professor of Swedish origin, the scholarship
fund has moved to Concordia, where it will be administered by Brian Foss,
Associate Dean, Academic Affairs, in the Faculty of Fine Arts. The new
arrangement was cemented with a luncheon at the university on May 16.
A late-19th-century romance between a Canadian painter and a Swedish heiress
has left a lasting legacy in the form of two annual prizes for promising
William B. Bruce was a Canadian painter who married a sculptor called
Carolina Benedicks from a wealthy Swedish family. The couple wintered
in the sunny Mediterranean, but spent their summers on the island of Gotland,
off the west coast of Sweden, where they pursued their art.
When Bruce died in 1906, his widow gave his work to his hometown, Hamilton,
Ont., where it formed the basis for the Art Gallery of Hamilton.
Before she died in 1935, Benedicks set aside enough money for the Brucebo
Foundation, which awards two prizes annually.
The Bruce Travel Scholarship provides funding for a European trip of study
and research, and the Brucebo Summer Grant finances a working stay at
cottages in Gotland, where the Bruces once lived. Over the years, a number
of the winners have been from Concordia.
Retired McGill geography professor Jan O. Lundgren has been administering
the awards for some 30 years, and calls himself a Gotlander from
time to time. He said at the luncheon that every recipient has been
so enchanted with the Nordic light and general ambience of Gotland that
they ask to stay longer than the three months provided by the scholarship.
Concordia Art Education Professor Andrea Fairchild was instrumental in
bringing the Brucebo project to Concordia. She was at the luncheon, along
with a number of representatives of the university and of Fine Arts.
Among the guests were several members of the Brucebo jury, including Concordia
faculty member Kathryn Vigesaa-Lipke, plus Jan Lundgren, liaison officer
of the Foundation, and Fredrik Wetterqvist, press and cultural affairs
officer for the Swedish Embassy.