Imagine, for a moment, the world of lamplight under which our forebears read, talked, painted, sewed, ate, and wrote. Perhaps, as dark closed in, they poured tea into a cup from a silver teapot and idly stirred in sugar with a favourite silver teaspoon. Dance, music, literature, drama and a host of other arts were a rich part of that flickering realm. In that world of light and shadow, women created and nurtured the rich cultural mosaic that we enjoy today. Inspired by Canada's 150th Anniversary in 2017, this collection of contemporary silver candleholders, made from heritage silver, honours Canadian women's creative past and inspires their future.
Two Canadian families donated the silver found in these candleholders. Before times and values changed, five generations used the original metal in the form of tea and coffee sets, serving dishes and cutlery. After learning that most of the silver had only scrap value, the families decided to make something beautiful from the metal that would reflect on Canadian women's past accomplishments in the arts and, in its modernity, inspire future achievements. Stimulated by this idea, between 2017 and 2018, fifteen renowned Canadian metalsmiths transformed the silver into new and contemporary candleholders.
Each unique creation honours Canadian women's involvement in a particular art and includes a recognizable element from the original gift. Attached to each piece is a tiny silver monogram bearing the words: Women, Arts, Canada and the number 150, a reference to Canada's sesquicentennial.
CURATOR: Laura Brandon
PHOTOGRAPHY: Keith Betteridge
Grateful thanks and appreciation for their wonderful work to all the artists especially Beth Alber, Anne Barros and Lois Etherington Betteridge. Also deserving of thanks are Keith Betteridge, Rob Brandon and Anne Greenlay for generously supporting the exhibition in so many ways.
"With unique inspiration and some old silver, an exhibit at the University of New Brunswick’s Memorial Hall put a polished shine on the efforts of female artists that were muddied during their time...”
"Inspired by Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017 and a desire to highlight women’s role in Canada’s history, candle holders were the chosen subject, partly because the light source 150 years ago would have been candlelight … it’s a metaphor for lighting the past and the future...”
by Brigitte Clavette
This candleholder combines domestic and creative life in the form of paintbrushes, drawing implements and a saucepan. A heritage silver frame encircles the rolled canvas holding the artist tools. Scratched into the canvas are areas resembling pencil shading alongside a form approximating a painting stretcher. Together the pieces form a still life, further underlining the traditional nature of artistic work in the pre-digital age.
by Charles Funnell
A woman formed from intertwining silver wire leaps into the air pushing aside the red stage curtain signifying her struggle to be free from all boundaries both internal and external. This coiled tension depicts the strength that is drawn from her core, represented by
the vaginal oil lamp. Evoking women’s creative capacity, skill and ability to express emotion whilst defying gravity itself, this is a study in joyful abandonment.
by Beth Alber
This piece attests to Canadian women's long -established role in making homes and building houses. Signifying their importance for Canada's built environment, on the base the names of Canadian women architects swirl around an arrangement of structural supports for a house. Inside, a candle symbolizes the traditional central hearthside role of women in the home.
by Ken Vickerson
Resembling the wing of a Canadian Second World War aircraft in whose construction women were involved, this candleholder focuses on the contributions of female Canadians to engineering, industrial, furniture and interior design. Their names are found on the candle bases and their designs within the wing's niches. The plywood and metal that comprise the artwork reference the materials the women used in their work. The heritage hairpin inserted in the piece denotes the need for a practical hairstyle on the shopfloor or in the design office.
by Jackie Anderson
Incorporated into this candle-holder are black and white piano keys, the suggestion of a treble clef and the form of a stringed musical instrument. Combined, the arrangement of shapes suggests a woman's torso, breasts, and her reproductive organs. Incised in the silver base are the names of numerous Canadian women composers, musicians and songwriters.
by Fiona Macintyre
This piece evokes an old-fashioned dress, the candle at the top, as a symbol of life, denoting its wearer. Hand piercing creates the collar's 'lace' and the scallop designs of the hem. The curving bodice and skirt are made from heritage silver spoons. Wire 'stitches' hold the garment in place.
by Elizabeth Goluch
Canadian women have a long horticultural history associated with botanic studies and gardening, as well as plant and flower drawing and painting. This meticulously crafted candleholder evokes the care and attention required for horticultural research and documentation. Hidden in the Morning Glory's foliage, the necessary accurate reporting of plant diseases and pests is evoked by the presence of a moth, caterpillar and pupa that might harm the plant.
by Mary K. McIntyre
Inspired by the nineteenth-century zoetropes that anticipated today's moving image storytelling, forged silver feminine forms encircle a bronze turbine. Blowing on the turbine provides a view of flickering candlelight through slits in the deerskin shade. Symbolized, as well, is the traditional scenario of a family gathered around a lamp or fire to share stories; storytelling still an integral element of much film, television and video.
by Lois Etherington Betteridge
Alluding to the shape of a corseted woman's body, this silver candleholder emphasizes the centrality of women to craft work in Canada. Surrounding the holder are examples of ceramic, glass, leather, textile and wood work. The fruit tree signifies nature's role in providing craft materials and, as a source of fire and energy, the means to form them into functional objects of beauty.
by Chantal Gilbert
This anthropomorphic candleholder combines the imagery of a peapod with that of a woman's vagina to underline reproduction as a source of life and food. Scratched and beaded on to the candleholder's exterior are numerous lines and shapes evocative of pollen, seeds and sperm. Indeed, the pod bulges pregnantly. Pearl peas lie at its base and, chained to their source of life - the pod, rest in a heritage spoon ready to be eaten.
by Anne Barros
When hung out to dry, the work of Canadian female photographers shows us women at work, at play and self-reflective. The rotary washing line evokes the domestic sphere from which much of their early practice emerged. The candle ensconced at the line's centre references photography's relationship to light. In the dark, holes in the silver 'clothes' make the images partially visible.
by Myra Tulonen Smith
Embedded in the ancient stone that supports two candleholders that also function as oil lamps (shown here) are the names of four Canadian woman scientists whose adventures have brought the past and the present to life. Like roots in the ground that transform into shoots reaching for the light, the curving tubular forms evoke the often hidden but creative nature of the labour required to bring such scientific exploits to public attention. In the form of the lamps themselves, the illumination this effort sheds on their achievements simultaneously lights the way forwards.
by Anne-Sophie Vallée
This candleholder's seven separate and interactive parts reference the stage itself, theatre props and, through the range of materials used, the actor's repertoire of character, emotion and mood. Assembled, the curves of the piece evoke the female form as a means to highlight the presence and contribution of Canadian women to theatre.
by Mary Anne Barkhouse
Two silver canoes reflective of Eastern and Northwest Coast Indigenous designs float in parallel among silver waterlily pads, the blossoms rendered as delicate beeswax candles. The linear arrangement of the component parts is designed to evoke the 1613 Two Row Wampum Treaty between the Haudenosaunee and the Dutch. Silver beaver silhouettes support the Purpleheart base, a nod to the important role these animals fulfill within North American ecosystems and history. The artwork honours the Canadian women sculptors who have depicted the intricacies of our landscape and our complex relationship to it.
by Kye-Yeon Son
An open book is illuminated by candlelight. Using a variety of fonts to honour women's different writing styles, above the book's pages float the names of Canadian women writers.
A graduate of Montreal's School of Jewellery and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, Vallée has won a number of awards and exhibited her unique artwork across the world.
A graduate of the University of Guelph and OCAD University, Macintyre apprenticed with Lois Etherington Betteridge. A recognized teacher and jewellery designer, she maintains a studio and exhibition space showcasing the work of Canadian metal-smiths including herself.
A graduate of Humber College and the Sir John Cass School of Art, London, Barros exhibits internationally, writes about metalwork and has won numerous awards. A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, her work is in public and private collections globally including that of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK.
Head of the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design's Jewellery/Metal Studio, Clavette has won numerous awards. A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, her work is in public collections globally including that of the Royal Ontario Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK.
A recipient of the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts and a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Gilbert is a sculptor, teacher and jeweller and exhibits internationally. Her work is in numerous Canadian public and private collections.
A graduate of York and Western Universities, Funnell is an award - winning sculptor and metalsmith. His work is found in a number of Canadian private and public collections. .
A multiple award-winning metal-smith, Goluch's artwork is in public and private collections across Canada. A graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, she has exhibited globally.
A graduate of the Alberta College of Art and Design and a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Anderson has exhibited globally for more than forty years. The recipient of numerous awards, her work is in private and public collections across the world.
A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Vickerson is an associate professor at OCAD University and the former chair of its Material Art and Design program. He has exhibited and written widely while also maintaining an independent design practice.
A winner of the Saidye Bronfman Award, Son is a graduate of Seoul National University, South Korea and Indiana University, Bloomington, US. She is on the faculty of the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University and is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Her work has garnered numerous awards and is in public and private collections globally.
Photo Credit: Jessica Lovell/Metroland
A studio artist since 1952, Etherington Betteridge has exhibited globally. Her commissioned works have encompassed jewellery and ecclesiastical and secular holloware, including presentation pieces for Canadian premiers and prime ministers. Her numerous awards include the Order of Canada, the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in Crafts and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of North American Goldsmiths.
A graduate of OCAD University, McIntyre studied under Lois Etherington Betteridge. A well-established curator, metalsmith, sculptor and teacher, her work has been exhibited across Canada.
A member of the Nimpkish band, Kwakiutl First Nation, Barkhouse, a sculptor and metalsmith, has exhibited widely across Canada and the US. Her work is in many public and private collections in Canada.
A graduate of Sheridan College School of Design, Tulonen Smith apprenticed with Lois Etherington Betteridge. Her commissioned work is in many Canadian public and private collections.
A former professor in the Design Faculty at OCAD University, Alber trained at Sheridan College's School of Design and Craft and at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University. She has exhibited widely and successfully in Canada and is a recipient of Craft Ontario's John and Barbara Mather Award for Lifetime Achievement.
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