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    Shell seeks artists to capture story of Scotford’s ‘turnaround’
  • 27Aug

    Shell seeks artists to capture story of Scotford’s ‘turnaround’

    EDMONTON - Refining crude oil into gasoline may be mostly science, but there is always room for a little art in the process.

    And Shell Canada hopes a project called “Art Refined” will capture the humanity behind the steel and steam at the Scotford Refinery near Fort Saskatchewan.

    Shell is undertaking a shutdown for repairs and maintenance this fall, and is seeking local artists to spend time at the site and tell the stories of the “turnaround” through their art.

    The 10 “artists-in-residence” chosen will each spend a shift at Scotford, and have full access to the site.

    As well, Canadian photojournalist Tim Van Horn will be there for a week to capture as many as 2,013 individual portraits of the “many people from many backgrounds with different skills coming together to complete one job,” according to Shell.

    His photos will form a huge mosaic of “Team Scotford,” which will be shown along with work from the other artists at the Art Gallery of Alberta later this year in an exhibit celebrating the tradespeople employed by Alberta industries.

    “We want to share information about what a turnaround is with the public, and we thought if we bring in someone external, like an artist who is creative and has a different way of looking at things, we can share these stories,” said Scotford spokesman Stephen Velthuizen.

    “We have not heard of this approach happening anywhere in the world, so it would be first. But I don’t think it will be the last,” he added.

    The 10 artists will represent different mediums — fine art, three-dimensional art, ceramics, sculptures, print making, alternative art, graphic design or photography — and will be able to select one of three shifts at Scotford starting the week of Sept. 15 — a weekday day, weekend evening or weekend shift. For safety reasons they will all have a Shell escort at the busy site.

    The local artists will be asked to focus on one of three themes — profile, craft or industry. A profile would tell the story of an individual or group who delivers the turnaround, a craft angle would interpret the connection of an individual or group to their craft or trade, while an industry approach would interpret the overall effort that it takes to keep an industrial site like a refinery running safely and efficiently through a turnaround.

    Artists will receive a $1,000 honorarium and have their work entered in an art contest with prize money based on the categories. Shell and the contractors will vote on the submissions.

    Velthuizen said the impacts of a turnaround — something major operations like refineries, chemical plants and upgraders undergo regularly — is little known by the public.

    “These turnarounds are 24/7 operations which can last weeks at a time, and are essential to the operation of the plant,” he said. “They also have an effect on the local economy, and it shows that with the number of facilities in the Edmonton region there are lots of opportunities for these tradespeople here and they don’t have to go up north.”

    Like all refiners planning a shutdown, Shell has stored extra fuel and made purchases so that its customers will not notice any change in supply during September, Velthuizen said.

    The deadline for artists to apply to Shell is Friday, Aug. 30. Details are available at


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