Great-grandfather inspires poster

October 9, 2018 by Stephen J. Thorne
One of the winning posters in the senior categories, by Emma Cervinka of London, Ont.

Meghan (Maria) Singson is heading to York University this fall to study philosophy. It’s only natural, then, that the graduate of Francis Libermann Catholic High School in Scarborough, Ont., brings depth and impact to her art.

A self-described casual artist, Singson, 18, won the senior black and white poster category in the Legion’s 2018 national poster and literary contests with a complex 56-by-71-centimetre charcoal drawing that speaks eloquently to the costs and futility of war.

Inspired by her great-grandfather, Arthur (Bob) Blomfield—a Second World War air force veteran and long-time member of the Legion’s Highland Creek Branch in Scarborough—Singson has entered the annual contest three times.

It was her first win in the competition that rewards outstanding tributes to Canada’s wartime sacrifices through posters, poetry and prose, and it was especially significant to her personally because her great-grandfather died in 2015. “I wanted it to have a focus; more than just having everything about the war and remembering, I wanted to make a statement,” said Singson.

One of the winning posters in the senior categories, by Maria Singson of Scarborough, Ont.

She called the piece “Behind the Wall.” In it, she sought to convey the emotions and pain associated with war, while at the same time creating a memorial to her great-grandfather and those with whom he served.

The piece is set in a border of what appears to be a blast-damaged wall, as if the viewer is looking through a shell hole. Judges said it also looked like punctured ice, which dovetailed with some of the marine scenes depicted around its perimeter.

A diversity of small images depicting wartime scenes, old and new, draw the viewer in. At the bottom is a mother nuzzling a baby, almost as if she’s inhaling that newborn scent, her face a study in distracted concern.

At the top, the featured images almost burst from the border—of a soldier crying out in pain and protest and a veteran wearing a beret with his head bowed in sombre reflection and remembrance.

While the intermediates often produce the contest’s best work, the senior category was particularly strong this year, said Jennifer Morse, one of the competion’s three judges and general manager of Canvet Publications.

“The black and white poster was powerful,” she said. “It’s one of those pieces that you can find things in. It has longevity; it has legs.”

One of the winning posters in the intermediate categories, by Alastair Capstick of Bloomfield, N.B.
One of the winning posters in the intermediate categories, by Richmond Dakay of Mississauga, Ont.

Open to all students in schools across Canada, the competition produced a broad geographic representation of winners, runners-up and honourable mentions chosen from representatives from all 13 provinces and territories.

Eight Ontario artists placed in the 14 categories (eight art; six literary) across four age groups; they included four first-place winners.

British Columbia had seven placements and Alberta had six.

Emma Cervinka from Catholic Central High School in London, Ont., won the senior colour poster competition with a lovely depiction of the National War Memorial surrounded by representations of the home front and different services over different conflicts, all in black and white.

In the foreground, a colourful and diverse array of Canadians look on, the reds in their variety of dress blending with the reds of the poppies among which they stand. Only a lone soldier is dressed in green, offsetting the green poppy stems and leaves.

“The artist really tried to bring in all wars—the silhouettes of the soldiers…trudging along,” said Morse. “And then they juxtapose that against remembrance.”

Hannah Christensen of Ponteix School in Saskatchewan won the senior poetry competition with her poem “The Scarlet of Remembrance,” which begins:

The scarlet of remembrance
For those who’ve gone before,
The purple light of freedom
Gleams forevermore,
Brilliant orange laughter
Ends the salty blue of tears,
The white of peace that blotted out
The raven shade of fear.

Sadie Vogel of St. Albert Catholic High School in Alberta won the senior essay competition with a piece entitled “Remembering the Past and Reflecting on the Present.”

In it, the 15-year-old writes, “remembering our past is a big part of our future and acknowledging the thousands of men and women who sacrificed their lives.”

She describes how she grew up on stories of her paternal grandparents growing up in wartime in the Netherlands, hearing the sounds of bombs exploding and going without food. “It is hard to imagine that this happened and continues to happen in other war-torn parts of the world.”

The competition’s initial judging takes place at the community level by volunteers at local Legion branches. Winners progress to the provincial level, whose winners are then forwarded to Ottawa for national judging.

Winning posters are framed and displayed at the Canadian War Museum for a year. Senior winners receive a Legion-sponsored trip to the national Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa, where they place a wreath at the National War Memorial on behalf of the youth of Canada and visit with the Governor General.

Second place and honourable mention finishers are displayed on Parliament Hill during the week of Remembrance.

The contest never ceases to surprise, said Morse. “I think what surprises all of us is how remarkable the kids are,” she said.

Senior

Colour poster
First: Emma Cervinka, London, Ont.
Second: Eric Park, Calgary
Honourable mention: Krizia Ramilo, Winnipeg

Black and white poster
First: Meghan (Maria) Singson, Scarborough, Ont.
Second: Chengyun (Melody) Xu, Vancouver
Honourable mention: Mikayla Woodcock, Devon, Alta.

Poem
First: Hannah Christensen, Ponteix, Sask.
Second: Krixia Mae S. Padilla, Chetwynd, B.C.
Honourable mention: Samantha Holloway, Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L.

Essay 
First: Sadie Vogel, St. Albert, Alta.
Second: Anika O’Neill, Belleisle Creek, N.B.
Honourable mention: Callie Thomson, Shamrock, P.E.I.


Intermediate


Colour poster
First: Richmond Dakay, Mississauga, Ont.
Second: Linda He, White Rock, B.C.
Honourable mention: Tedi Pollak, Calgary.

Black and white poster
First: Alastair Capstick, Bloomfield, N.B.
Second: Daniel Kang, Foothills, Alta.
Honourable mention: Jonathan Ge, Waterloo, Ont.

Poem
First: Sara Pluta, Port Hawkesbury, N.S.
Second: Dylan Sletten, Hazlet, Sask.
Honourable mention: Teresa Borlé, St. Albert, Alta.

Essay
First: Morgan Flint, Nanaimo, B.C.
Second: Darcie Brohman, Clinton, Ont.
Honourable mention: Hunter Paranuik, Avonlea, Sask.


Junior


Colour poster
First: Sonja Csik, Thornhill, Ont.
Second:Titus Stahl, Camrose, Alta.
Honourable mention: Kali McDermott, Kamloops, B.C.

Black and white poster
First: Connie Liu, Markham, Ont.
Second: Cora Laporte, Castlegar, B.C.
Honourable mention: Karolane Massicotte, Hemmingford, Que.

Poem
First: Marcus Hodelet, Oyama, B.C.
Second:Eleonora Mustafa, Orillia, Ont.
Honourable mention: Jade Whyte, Hemmingford, Que.

Essay
First: Addison Chandler, New Haven, P.E.I.
Second: Cora Campbell, Lloydminster, Sask.
Honourable mention: Caroline Goveas, Brantford, Ont.


Primary


Colour poster
First: Owen McClay, Calgary
Second: Brianne Ziyue Cao, Waterloo, Ont.
Honourable mention: Violet Sage Moore, Burton, B.C.

Black and white poster
First: Abriel Hart, St. George, Ont.
Second: Sidney Riddle, New Westminster, B.C.
Honourable mention: Cameron Milbrandt, Estevan, Sask.


This information was corrected Sept. 12, 2018. Incorrect information for the Intermediate poem and essay contests appeared in the print issue of the magazine.

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