National Bank Place: Six new works of art to enrich Montreal’s cultural landscape

Montreal, September 15, 2023

National Bank [1] is pleased to announce the winners of its art competition. These pieces will be installed by the end of the year at National Bank Place, the Bank’s new head office at 800 Saint-Jacques in Montreal.

“I am proud of the selection committee’s choices. The works of art selected address important topics such as protecting the environment, the role of individuals in the community and our human ability to create connections. We look forward to sharing them with our employees, our clients, the Montreal community, and everyone who visits the park next to National Bank Place,” said Laurent Ferreira, President and Chief Executive Officer. 

“It’s wonderful that the Bank is helping democratize art by installing a number of works at its new head office. We received many high-quality proposals, and I’m proud of each of our winners. The selection committee did some great work. These sculptures will directly contribute to enriching Montreal’s artistic landscape, while raising the profile of Canadian artists,” said Jo-Ann Kane, Curator of the National Bank Collection.


Selection committee
The selection committee was responsible for nominating artists, evaluating preliminary proposals and projects presented by finalists, and selecting winning projects. The committee was made up of three recognized Canadian visual art experts, with knowledge of public art, along with the architect and the landscape architect responsible for designing the surrounding spaces:

  • Sophie Beaudoin, Landscape Architect and Co-President, CCxA Landscape Architecture (for the park)
  • Lesley Johnstone, Director, Exhibitions and Research, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
  • Jo-Ann Kane, Curator, National Bank Collection
  • Julie Morin, Partner Architect, Menkès Shooner Dagenais Letourneux Architectes (for the interior spaces)
  • Naomi Potter, Curator, Esker Foundation in Calgary


National Bank Collection
As an active witness to the evolution of Canadian art, the Bank has been acquiring works from the nation’s most influential professional artists since 1971. With over 7,000 original works of art, this collection reflects the history of Canadian art from 1895 to today.

By purchasing artwork, displaying it and lending it to museums, the Bank directly supports artists and creators across Canada, year after year. It helps promote Canadian artists while enriching the environment for thousands of employees and clients.


National Bank Place
The new head office building is 200 metres tall. It has 40 floors and covers an area of over 1,000,000 square feet. It is connected to Montreal’s underground city. It will welcome more than 12,000 employees of the Bank and its subsidiaries over the next year. The building will include a branch, a daycare facility, a training centre, 400 bike parking spots, 100 charging stations for electric vehicles and an outdoor garden on the 40th floor.

It is designed to take advantage of natural light and promote collaboration in user-friendly spaces while blending seamlessly into its surroundings. To obtain LEED v4 Gold and WELL certification, the building was designed to meet the strictest global standards in terms of sustainable construction.


[1] National Bank is acquiring these works of art through National Bank Realty Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank.

About National Bank of Canada
With $426 billion in assets as at July 31, 2023, National Bank of Canada , together with its subsidiaries, forms one of Canada's leading integrated financial groups. The Bank has approximately 30,000 employees in knowledge-intensive positions and has been recognized numerous times as a top employer and for its commitment to diversity. Its securities are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: NA). Follow the Bank’s activities at or via social media.


Marie-Pierre Jodoin

Senior Manager, Public Affairs and Corporate Social Responsibility
National Bank of Canada




Name of artist Myfanwy MacLeod
Title of work: The Song of the Dodo
Location of artwork: Park next to National Bank Place


Image of the work of art

Photo Credit: Cam Farn - Carvel Creative


Description of work:

The Song of the Dodo is a memorial to the species we have lost through ignorance or prejudice; it is a cautionary tale. The iconic image of the dodo as a fat, clumsy and not particularly smart bird was made famous in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It is believed that the dodo's lack of intelligence, accentuated by its odd physical appearance, led to its extinction and tragic demise. Unfortunately, the bird’s openness, curiosity, and fearlessness likely made it easy prey. Coupled with the destruction of its natural habitat by humans, this led to its eventual disappearance. In 1662, a Dutchman briefly marooned on the island of Mauritius gave the last credible eyewitness account of a living dodo. Since then, the song of the dodo, if it ever had one, has been lost to human memory. Inspired by Montreal’s historic Square Victoria and the landscape designed by CCxA Landscape Architects, this sculpture of a dodo—part of the same family as the common pigeon—invites us to reflect on this loss and celebrate nature’s diversity. It encourages us to consider those marginalized by intolerance and discrimination. Situated in front of National Bank Place, The Song of the Dodo underscores the organization’s commitment to protecting the environment. A portion of the amount allocated to this artwork will be donated to Bird Protection Quebec, an organization dedicated to education, conservation and the protection of bird species. The Song of the Dodo will therefore help preserve wildlife habitat for the future.


Biography of the artist:

Of Welsh and Scottish descent, Myfanwy MacLeod (born 1961) lives and works in Vancouver, Canada, on the traditional unceded territories of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh speaking peoples, the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Her artistic practice has resulted in a substantial body of nationally and internationally recognized work, which is held in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery, and private collections.

MacLeod’s work uses pathos and humour to address assumptions around gender, privilege, and value. By engaging with art historical conventions as both influences and foils, she offers a feminist critique of notions of mastery, creative genius, and power by introducing qualities such as awkwardness, emotion, and doubt. Through public commissions, she examines public space and its relationship to gender, class, and the marginalized by rethinking orthodoxies, hierarchies and overlaps between “high” and “low” art forms.

She has exhibited her work throughout Canada, Australia, the United States and Europe. Solo exhibitions include Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, Wales (2023); Canada House, London, UK (2019); Or Gallery, Vancouver (2015); Vancouver Art Gallery (2014); Museum London, London, ON (2013); Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver (2012); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2006). Selected group exhibitions include the Biennale Gherdëina, Ortisei, Italy (2020) Polygon Gallery, Vancouver (2017); Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto (2013); National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA, USA (2012); Vancouver Art Gallery (2010); Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, Toronto (2008); Kunstverein Wolfsburg, Germany (2004); The Power Plant, Toronto; Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburg; Gasworks, London, UK (2002); Canadian Pavilion, Melbourne International Biennial, Australia (1999); and the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver (1998). 



Name of artist: Shary Boyle
Title of work: Scentime
Location of artwork: St-Jacques Main Lobby 


Image de l'oeuvre Scentime

Photo Credit: Alexander McLeod


Description of work:

Scentime, a play on the words for fragrance and the smallest unit of currency in old France, represents a 26’ tall perfume bottle clad in ceramic and Byzantine coloured glass mosaics, capped with a golden head. Embodying a gourd vase silhouette with an Alice-in-Wonderland-style stretched neck, Scentime reimagines the miniature containers popularized in Paris and London in the 18th century as decorative vessels for precious scents. These tiny porcelain masterworks contained the divine feminine, connecting our senses to memory, water and the earth. Evocative of historical porcelain painting, Scentime is adorned with images of endangered plants and animals native to this land, specifically the eastern regions.

Situated at the entrance of National Bank Place, the sculpture questions what we value and what we do to keep it safe.

Ceramic vessels are among the earliest technologies of many ancient cultures, enabling societies to preserve food and carry water so they could move across the land. The vessel is a symbol of childbearing, caretaking and communal life. Encircling the bulb of the vase, images of our natural world are rendered at eye-level from the artist’s original watercolours, translated into Byzantine glass smalti by artisans at the Montreal-based company Mosaika. Personification and guardian of the vessel’s imagined contents, a cast-metal golden head seals the “body” in a nod to classic perfume bottle-stopper design. By merging the container with a mythological, figurative presence, the sculpture connects function to narrative, provoking dialogue between the artwork and the viewer.

Scentime is intended as a looming yet grounded touchstone, encouraging all who pass by to reflect on earth’s common treasury.


Biography of the artist:

Shary Boyle is the recipient of a 2021 Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Ontario College of Art and Design University. She graduated from that same university in 1994, before dedicating herself to a multidisciplinary practice centred on drawing, sculpture and performance. Boyle’s work considers the social history of ceramic figures, animist mythologies and folk-art forms to create a symbolic, feminist and politically charged language uniquely her own. Boyle activates her practice through collaboration and mentorship, engaging other creative communities and disciplines with a characteristically inclusive spirit. Shary Boyle received the Gershon Iskowitz Prize in 2009 and the Hnatyshan Award in 2010. She also represented Canada at the Venice Biennial in 2013. Boyle’s work can be found in private and public collections internationally and has been featured in the Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennialle (South Korea, 2017) the Kaunas Biennial (Lithuania, 2021), as well as in the National Gallery of Canada’s 2010, 2014, and 2017 Canadian Biennials. Her solo touring exhibition Outside the Palace of Me organized by Toronto’s Gardiner Museum was presented by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2022 and will travel to the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Museum of Art and Design in NYC in 2023.



Name of artist: Beth Stuart
Title of work: Les Tendresses
Location of work: Atrium 


Image de l'oeuvre Les Tendresses


Description of work:

Les Tendresses are three monumental sculptures that animate the architectural forms of three adjacent columns through a lively transformation of stone into the suggestion of clothed figures.  Each posture and “costume” is distinct from the others; one upright and elegant, one soft and flowing, one ornate and whimsical. The molded sculptures are made using a centuries-old architectural plaster technique called scagliola, which authentically imitates marble, creating a double trompe l’oeil: architecture come to life, and cloth turned to stone. These works are inspired by the delight that emerges from the unexpected transformation of the inanimate into the animate; the hard into the seemingly soft; the inorganic into the organic. The stacked forms of the three figures echo the ascending architecture and the superposition of the marble and granite slabs lining the walls and floor. The sculptures introduce a playful distortion of these regular geometries, contrasting the calm, sober look of the grey stone and concrete against bright, lively columns made of the same materials. This juxtaposition suggests a bridge between the architecture of the space and the humans who move through it—recognizing the role of individuals within the community and the capacity of the imagination to draw connections.


Biography of the artist:

Beth Stuart works in an expanding range of media including writing, painting, ceramics, performance, textiles, and sculptural installations. Picking up on overlooked historical moments, characters, and material techniques, she creates alternative plot points in the narrative of modernist abstraction in order to examine the physical and metaphysical implications of dissolving the figure-ground relationship. Her material research has led her to discover bizarre Victorian bathing customs, interstitial meiofauna, the politics of stretching, time travel, melting rocks with her bare hands, pizza, and contemporary art as a site of ritual sublimation. Les Tendresses represent a playful offshoot of a longer artistic passage through the history of the relationships between architecture, garment construction, modernist abstraction, queer embodiment, and feminist practice.

Beth Stuart holds a graduate degree from the University of Guelph, an undergraduate degree from Concordia in Montreal, and was a 2019 alumna of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Notable presentations include solo projects at the Power Plant (Toronto 2018), the Esker Foundation (Calgary 2014), the Painting Project at the Galerie de l’UQAM (Montreal 2013), and the exhibition An Assembly of Shapes at the Oakville Galleries (2018). She is the recipient of numerous residencies, grants, and awards, including the RBC Painting Prize, the Canada Council for the Arts Paris Residency and the Canada Council’s Long-Term Grant for Visual Artists. Her work has been written about in such publications as Frieze Magazine, Mousse Magazine, Canadian Art, and Border Crossings. Among her critical writings are published texts in C Magazine and Canadian Art, and exhibition texts for artists Sandra Meigs and Sameer Farooq. She is represented by Susan Hobbs Gallery and is Assistant Professor in Visual Arts at the University of Victoria, where she lives and works on the unceded land of the Lekwungen and WSÁNEĆ peoples. 



Name of artist: Fabienne Lasserre
Title of work: Bruits-couleur
Location of artwork: Lobby, Rue Notre-Dame 


Image de l'oeuvre Bruits-couleurs


Description of work:

A large, oval fiberglass disk painted in colourful sections intersects with circular coloured-glass panels, a cast concrete base and vibrantly-hued tubular steel legs. With its striking colours and elegantly playful form, Bruits-couleur activates the space and engages the public through multiple points of view and shifts in perspective.

In a fast-paced site full of bustling crowds, Bruits-couleur relies on our senses in movement. From the park and the street, the mezzanine above, or different positions in the atrium, each viewpoint creates a new sense of form and composition. Metaphorically, Bruits-couleur is a mirror, window, or lens through which viewers (re)envision their surroundings.

Standing on sinuous, steel pipe “legs”, the sculpture also becomes a playful creature. Lasserre’s abstract yet anthropomorphic work places the Body outside of traditional dichotomies such as male/female, self/other, inside/outside, individual/group. As conceptions of gender become increasingly porous yet a woman’s right to control her own body is curtailed in parts of the U.S., Lasserre engages with the politics of the body implicitly through form, shape and colour. Her approach to abstraction as a way to ground inclusive and fluid forms of thinking is informed by Quebec’s unique history of abstract art: radical, open, interdisciplinary, socially and politically engaged, and set in the public sphere.

Some viewers may engage with Bruits-couleur’s references to Quebec’s history of abstraction or notice its relationship with the flowing rhythms of the building’s materials. Some might relate to the sculpture’s striking form and colour. Others may see the humour in this creature-like sculpture, standing exaggeratedly large on its pedestal. These differences gently imply that our understanding of the self and the world are always shaped by history and place. Indeed, Bruits-couleur activates a poetic and expansive relationship with the world: imaginative, political, playful, intuitive, analytical, physical, emotional—all at once.


Biography of the artist:

Fabienne Lasserre grew up in Montreal and currently lives and works in Brooklyn. A 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, she is Director of the Interdisciplinary MFA in Studio Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). She received her BFA from Concordia University (1996) and her MFA from Columbia University, New York (2004).

Lasserre has exhibited her work consistently in Canada, the U.S. and internationally. Her upcoming 2024 solo exhibition at the Athenaeum (Athens, GA), Listeners, has been awarded substantial financial support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Recent solo projects include With What Eyes, (2023, Zalucky Contemporary, Toronto), Eye Contact (2021, Turn Gallery, New York), Make Room for Space (2018, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, Buffalo, NY); Les Larmes (2018, Parisian Laundry, Montreal). Her work was exhibited in group shows at Essex Flowers and White Columns (both 2022, New York); the Tang Museum (2021, Saratoga Springs, New York); CPM Gallery (2021, Baltimore); Ceysson de Bénétière (2017, Luxembourg); C.Ar.D Palazzo Costa Tretenerro (2015, Piacenza, Italy); the Contemporary Arts Museum (2013, Houston, TX); the Museo de Antioquia (2013, Medellin, Colombia); and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2011), among others.

She is the recipient of a Saint-Gaudens Memorial Fellowship (2017) and a Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program Award (2016). In 2013 and 2014, she received Project Grants to Visual Artists from the Canada Council for the Arts. Her work appears in numerous private and public collections such as the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec (MNABQ), the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Claridge Collection of Canadian Art.



Name of artist: Jen Aitken
Title of work: Almost Seen
Location of artwork: Lobby, Rue Notre-Dame 


Image de l'oeuvre Bruits-couleur


Description of work:

Almost Seen is a three-dimensional drawing made of bronze segments arranged together as if frozen mid-movement. From a distance, the sculpture describes a distinct volume of negative space, held within its contours. This spatial volume appears to transform, however, as you move around it. Up close, the sculpture’s cohesiveness as an image breaks apart as you observe its materiality—reinforced joints with exposed hardware, differing thicknesses of metal bands, a variety of brushed and raw surfaces. When you focus on this material information, the bronze bands are no longer the edges of an imaginary volume, but independent lines on a trajectory through space. A sculpture’s three-dimensional form is typically made of material, but here, material and volume are mutually exclusive.

In addition to the tension between line and volume and between material and space, the sculpture’s transparency introduces ambiguity between object and environment. Looking at the work also always involves looking through the work, onto the surrounding architecture and out into the park through the window.

The title of the sculpture describes a form that can only ever be almost seen: it merges with its surroundings; it seems to change from one view to the next; its overall form is an absent one. As a metaphor, Almost Seen describes the feeling of knowing something intuitively, but not being able to articulate it into language. This sculpture evokes a number of art historical, architectural, and infrastructural references, but ultimately resists language, instead privileging embodied and intuitive perception.


Biography of the artist:

Jen Aitken (born 1985) makes sculptures and drawings that combine perceptual ambiguity with structural clarity. Based in Toronto, she received her MFA from the University of Guelph, Ontario in 2014 and her BFA from Emily Carr University, Vancouver in 2010. Aitken received a Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Award in 2021, and the Hnatyshyn Foundation and TD Bank Emerging Visual Artist Awards in 2017. She was the inaugural participant in the RBC Emerging Artist Residency at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in 2022. Aitken’s first major institutional solo exhibition, The Same Thing Looks Different, is on view at The Power Plant in Toronto during the summer of 2023. Her work is in public collections across Canada including the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Aitken’s piece Almost Seen, commissioned by National Bank in 2023, will be the artist’s first large-scale public artwork.



Name of artist: Rochelle Goldberg
Title of work: Monkey, Monroe
Location of work: Third Floor Common Area 


Image de l'oeuvre Monkey Monroe


Description of work:

Monkey, Monroe is a sculptural installation cast in bronze, which depicts a hamadryas baboon facing a figure reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe or an iconic 1950’s pin-up across a varied terrain. The intent is to create a visual riddle in celebration of the twentieth-century’s continued project of self-awareness. Who are we in relation to what we know?  Although these iconic images are situated in a passage used every day, where assumptions and fleeting impressions unravel and generate ongoing historical complexity, Marilyn is no longer the immaculate incarnation of glamour she was once perceived as. She instead emerges as a fragmented hybrid figure, an ideal frozen in time that appears to have accumulated layers of patina and sediment over several subsequent eras. The work’s seeming ability to exist in several temporal layers simultaneously poses questions about the evidentiary power of historical objects, artworks, and ideas. The sculptural depiction of a hamadryas baboon provokes a parallel inquiry. These animals were revered by the Ancient Egyptians, who interpreted their habit of basking in the dawn sun as an act of worship toward the Egyptian sun god. Although now often seen as a cunning pest, the baboon was then given a mythological status. In sculpture, it was frequently represented as a symbol of conservation, memory and written records. Cultural depictions of primate/human relations and the body type associated with 1950s pin-ups are linked to deeply paradoxical powers. By working with these specific predetermined images, the sculpture asks viewers to consider which bodily representations they themselves might accept as legitimate agents of knowledge and meaning. 


Biography of the artist:

Rochelle Goldberg was born in Vancouver in 1984 and now lives and works in Berlin. Her work questions how we can extrapolate beyond the assumed boundaries between living entities and objects. In her work, the material and conceptual distinctions between natural systems and the built environment collapse, synthesize and reform. Goldberg’s notion of “intraction” represents an in-between space where the boundary between one entity and another is destabilized and where the remains of encounters between multiple material and conceptual realities are articulated.

Rochelle Goldberg received an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College in Annandale-On-Hudson, NY, USA and a BA from McGill University in Montreal. Significant solo exhibitions include Kunsthalle Lingen, Germany (2022); Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York City (2020, 2017); Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver (2019); The Power Station, Dallas (2019); Casa Masaccio Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea, San Giovanni Valdarno, Italy (2018); GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy (2016); and SculptureCenter, Long Island City, USA (2016). She has also been included in numerous group exhibitions including at Gallerie delle Prigioni, Treviso, Italy (2022); Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, University of California (2021); Centre international d'art et du paysage de Vassivière, Beaumont-du-Lac, France (2021); Oakville Galleries, Canada (2019); A plus A Gallery, Venice (2018); Fondation d’Entreprise Ricard, Paris (2017); Whitney Museum, New York (2016); Dortmunder Kunstverein, Dortmund, Germany (2016); The Artist’s Institute, New York City (2016); and Swiss Institute, New York City (2015). She was Artist in Residence at The Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas (2018); previous residencies include Atelier Calder, Saché, France (2017) and Thun Ceramic Residency, Bolzano, Italy (2016). In 2018, she was awarded the Battaglia Foundry Sculpture Prize #03 by the Fonderia Artistica Battaglia in Milan. Her work was also selected for the first Frieze Sculpture at the Rockefeller Center, New York City (2019).