Critically acclaimed sound sculpture opens new NGC@WAG program

On February 1 the Winnipeg Art Gallery will present the inaugural exhibition of the NGC@WAG program. A brilliant sound sculpture, Janet Cardiff: Forty-Part Motet, reworks Spem in Alium by 16th century English composer Thomas Tallis. Involving 40 separately recorded choir voices played back through 40 speakers positioned specifically around the gallery, the 14-minute work creates a deeply moving effect on visitors. “Most people experience this piece in their living rooms in front of only two speakers,” says Cardiff. “Even in a live concert the audience is separated from the individual voices. I wanted to be able to climb inside the music.” The public is invited to attend the official opening at 7pm, Friday, February 15, which will be attended by Marc Mayer, Director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada.

Janet Cardiff: Forty-Part Motet is part of NGC@WAG, a three-year partnership between the WAG and the National Gallery of Canada that will see the two institutions co-organize  and co-present a series of exclusive exhibitions in the WAG’s  spaces, drawn from the NGC’s exceptional collection. These will include the presentation of single works, new acquisitions or full-scale exhibitions designed to complement the WAG’s existing programming.

Translated as “hope in any other,” Spem in Alium is believed to have been composed in honour of the 40th birthday of Queen Elizabeth I in 1573. Cardiff’s version features the voices of the Salisbury Cathedral Choir. Editions of Janet Cardiff: Forty-Part Motet are owned by the Tate Gallery (London), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), and the National Gallery of Canada.

“We are very excited about this partnership with the National Gallery of Canada,” says WAG Executive Director Dr. Stephen Borys. “NGC@WAG allows the WAG to bring to Winnipeg the best in historical, modern, and contemporary art from our country's premiere art collection, giving visitors an opportunity to see some incredible pieces from Canada and around the globe." After the Forty-Part Motet, NGC@WAG will be presenting a summer exhibition, followed in September by The Clock, an ode to time and cinema by the internationally-acclaimed artist Christian Marclay.”

The WAG is the third partnership of this kind for the NGC, the others being the Museum of Contemporary Art in Toronto (2010) and the Art Gallery of Alberta (2009).

"We are enthusiastic about inaugurating the NGC@WAG program with Janet Cardiff's acclaimed installation," says NGC Director and CEO Marc Mayer. "It is only the first of a series of famous works from the national collection that we will present in Winnipeg so that the Manitoba public can experience them first hand."


Art for Lunch • 12:10pm
Wed, Feb 27 • Curator’s tour
Wed, Mar 6 • U of M music professor, Dr. Gordon Fitzell, an award-winning composer,  explores the historical evolution of sound art and presents some of his own improvised experimental compositions.

Presenting sponsor for Janet Cardiff: Forty-Part Motet is Scotiabank.


The Winnipeg Art Gallery is celebrating its Centennial year with an unparalleled series of exhibitions, programs, and events promoting the power of art in life. As Manitoba's leading art museum, the WAG is home to over 26,000 works of art spanning ten centuries, including the world's preeminent collection of contemporary Inuit art.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is grateful for the support of the following Centennial sponsors: BMO Financial Group, The Winnipeg Foundation, the Department of Canadian Heritage, TD Bank, James Richardson & Sons Ltd., MTS Allstream, Johnston Group, Air Canada, RBC Royal Bank, PACART, Great-West Life, Friesens, Manitoba Culture Heritage and Tourism, City of Winnipeg, Investors Group, Scotiabank, Volunteer Associates of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Storm Bistro, Manitoba Lotteries Corporation, Ernst & Young, Fort Garry Hotel, KPMG, Lawton Partners, Loewen, Parrish & Heinbecker, Aikins Law, AON, Cambrian Credit Union, Manitoba Blue Cross, National Leasing, CP Loewen, North West Company, NRG Management. Media sponsors: Winnipeg Free Press, CTV, CBC, Pattison Outdoor Advertising, 103.1 Virgin Radio, 99.9 BOB FM, Doowah Design, Visual Lizard, Esdale Printing, Radio-Canada, Travel Manitoba, Tourism Winnipeg, Midcan Production Technologies. 

For the latest WAG updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. To do so, it maintains an extensive touring art exhibition programme. For more information, visit

– 30 –


For more information, please contact:

Debra Fehr
Manager, Communications and Marketing

Heather Mousseau
Communications Coordinator
204.786.6641, ext 211

Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Media and Public Relations Officer
National Gallery of Canada




Share This

This should be hidden