The first modern Canadian silversmith
Art is an expression of one’s creative self. Lois Betteridge is one of Canada’s most influential silversmiths and began her craft in the mid-1950s. Her pieces are primarily made from silver, gold, and copper, and reflect functional objects in your everyday life.
Betteridge was born in 1928 in Drummondville, Quebec, and raised in Hamilton, Ontario. She attended the Ontario College of Art (now knwon as OCAD University), then transferred to the University of Kansas, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art in 1951. Between 1954 and 1956, Betteridge settled in Guelph and attended the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan where she completed a Master of Fine Arts degree. In her early career, Betteridge taught weaving, design, and metal arts at the MacDonald Institute (one of the three founding colleges that formed the University of Guelph). Over six decades, Betteridge mentored generations of Canadian metalsmiths.
In her artist statement, Betteridge says: "Although there are times when my ideas are expressed in sculpture, I am primarily concerned with the functional object. For me, it is a way to celebrate the many “rituals” of our lives; rituals we may not be aware of but which, when celebrated, become meaningful, beautiful and formal, extending the role of objects far beyond mere function." This quote expresses how she modernized and inspired Canadian silversmithing by presenting everyday objects in contemporary and aesthetic forms.
While the field of traditional metalwork was mostly dominated by male artists, Betteridge achieved excellence in her craft and "has been referred to as the first modern Canadian silversmith to attain international stature in the studio craft movement."
Betteridge received 14 awards between 1955 and 2014, including membership in the Order of Canada in 1997, the WM/WYCA Woman of Distinction Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2002, two Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee (Golden and Diamond) Medals from the Government of Canada in 2002 and 2012, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society of North American Goldsmiths in 2010
Lois Betteridge is a celebrated artist who left a legacy in the Guelph and across Canada. She passed away in February 2020 at the age of 91. She is remembered for her metalcraft and for her contributions to family and community: "Beyond the silver was Lois the loving and laughing wife, mother, grandmother, house-remodeller, swimmer, wine-taster, party lover, Jack Russell devotee, aquafit enthusiast, scooterist extraordinaire and ‘neighbourhood matriarch'."
Photograph of Lois Betteridge teaching at Mcdonald Institute. The photo is in black and white and she is wearing a smock.
Lois Betteridge "Brandy Snifter" 1983