Canada Now photography fund fuels acquisitions and exhibitions at The Image Centre and AGO beginning this fall

Thanks to the generosity of Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas Metivier Gallery, new artworks highlight range of contemporary image-making in Canada

TORONTO, August 3, 2022 — Today, The Image Centre at Toronto Metropolitan University and the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) announce the acquisition and exhibition of new artworks, made possible by the Canada Now Photography Acquisition Initiative. Conceived in the spring of 2020 by photographer Edward Burtynsky and Nicholas Metivier Gallery and generously supported by proceeds from the sale of Burtynsky’s 2020 photography portfolio Natural Order, the Canada Now initiative is a response to the difficult economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on artists and the art market in Canada. Support from Canada Now has enabled Sophie Hackett, Curator, Photography, AGO and Denise Birkhofer, Collections Curator, The Image Centre, to each acquire artworks by 10 emerging and mid-career artists for their respective institution’s collections.

“There is no question that our arts sector was hit incredibly hard as a result of the pandemic and the two challenging years that followed, but we saw the resiliency and ingenuity of our artists during that time. Now the focus is on revitalizing the Canadian arts scene, breathing life back into our cities and ensuring resources and opportunities are close at hand for our artists. I am honoured to have contributed in this small way to help shine a light on the immense talent across this country, and I cannot wait for the public to experience the work of the Canada Now artists,” says Edward Burtynsky, Canadian photographer and filmmaker. 

“This initiative, which enables us to acquire artworks from emerging and mid-career Canadian photographers, allows us to introduce audiences to innovative artists who are challenging the definition and future of photography in Canada,” say Denise Birkhofer, Collections Curator, The Image Centre and Sophie Hackett, Curator of Photography, AGO.

New to The Image Centre Collection, courtesy of the Canada Now Photography Acquisition Initiative, are 60 works by ten Canadian artists: Zachary Ayotte (b. 1981, lives in Edmonton); Rebecca Bair (b. 1995, lives in Vancouver); Alyssa Bistonath (b. 1982, lives in Toronto); Séamus Gallagher (b. 1995, lives in Halifax); Kablusiak (b. 1993, lives Calgary); Luther Konadu (b. 1991, lives in Winnipeg); JJ Levine (b. 1984, lives in Montreal); Morris Lum (b. 1983, lives in Toronto); Isabel M. Martínez (b. 1977, lives in Toronto); and Kali Spitzer (b. 1987, lives in Vancouver). Among the acquisitions are two newly-commissioned works by Gallagher, whose elaborate photo-sculptural sets and costumes serve as a backdrop for their performative self-portrait series, A Slippery Place; and by Bair, whose mural-sized photographic work Reach and Coil placed her among the finalists for the Philip B. Lind Emerging Artist Prize in 2021.

A selection of these artworks will be featured in the exhibition CANADA NOW: New Photography Acquisitions, opening at The Image Centre on Sept. 14, 2022.

Proceeds from the Canada Now Photography Acquisition Initiative have supported the acquisition of works by ten artists for the AGO Collection. The AGO will present Canada Now -- an exhibition featuring select acquisitions -- in early 2023. Details about the exhibition and acquisitions will be announced this fall.

Located in Toronto, the Art Gallery of Ontario is one of the largest art museums in North America, attracting approximately one million visitors annually. The AGO Collection of more than 120,000 works of art ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art to significant works by Indigenous and Canadian artists and European masterpieces. The AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, including solo exhibitions and acquisitions by diverse and underrepresented artists from around the world. In 2019, the AGO launched a bold new initiative designed to make the museum even more welcoming and accessible with the introduction of free admission for anyone 25 years and under and a $35 annual pass. Visit to learn more.

The AGO is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO Members, donors and private-sector partners.

@AGOToronto | #SeeAGO

The Image Centre (formerly known as Ryerson Image Centre) exists for the research, teaching, and exhibition of photography and related media. We are an active partner within the academic fabric of Toronto Metropolitan University, the cultural network of greater Toronto, and the national and international artistic community. We develop rigorous yet inclusive programs for students, faculty, artists, researchers, and curators, as well as the general public. The Image Centre boasts three interrelated areas of activity. Our exhibition program addresses topics of social, cultural, aesthetic, and historical concern from a variety of contemporary perspectives. Our research program conducts and facilitates inquiry into primary resource materials and offers workshops, lectures, symposia, and publication programs. Finally, we maintain a collection of photography spanning the medium’s history, as well as several artist and journalism archives, including the renowned Black Star Collection of twentieth-century photo reportage. For more information, visit, and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube at @ImageCentreTO | #TheImageCentre

Conceived in 2020 by Canadian photographer and artist Edward Burtynsky, and supported by The Nicholas Metivier Gallery, this initiative is a response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on artists and the art market in Canada. It is supported by proceeds from the sale of Burtynsky’s 2020 photographic portfolio Natural Order. All funds from Canada Now were designated for the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and The Image Centre, to support the acquisition of artworks by 20 emerging and mid-career Canadian artists. For more information about Edward Burtynsky, visit For more information about Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto, visit

- 30 -

For hi-res images and other press inquiries, please contact:

Art Gallery of Ontario
Andrea-Jo Wilson; Manager, Public Relations
[email protected]

The Image Centre
Feven Tesfamariam; Marketing, Communications and Public relations Officer

[email protected]

Edward Burtynsky Photography
Alanna Joanne Smith; Media & Communications Manager
[email protected]

Be the first to find out about AGO exhibitions and events, get the behind-the-scenes scoop and book tickets before it’s too late.
You can unsubscribe at any time.