John Mather was the founding treasurer of the Ontario Crafts Council, now Craft Ontario, and in 1972, was President of the Ontario Crafts Foundation. Prior to the Foundation’s amalgamation with the Canadian Guild of Crafts, he foresaw the need for a common voice for craft in the province and believed that, “A single organization acting on behalf of craftspeople could exert considerable influence”. As president of Indusmin Limited, John Mather established the company’s unique collection of craft. After his death in 1977, Indusmin Ltd. honoured John Mather through the establishment of the John Mather Fund, which is administered by the Executive Committee of Craft Ontario.
Throughout the last thirty-three years, Barbara Mather, John’s widow, has continued to support the award as an important marker of distinction. With her passing in March of 2013, the Mather family has again committed to the future of the award. Our deepest thanks to the Mather family for their dedication to recognising exceptional achievement in support of the craft community. As of 2014, we are pleased to announce that the award will be officially continued under the name of the John and Barbara Mather Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Award Recipients are truly outstanding in their fields and have displayed exceptional commitment to the further development of craft in Ontario and throughout Canada. On behalf of Ontario’s craft community, and through the generous support of Barbara Mather, we are pleased to recognize and celebrate them with this great honour. The Award has been celebrating distinguished contributors to craft since 1981, and it is one of the highest markers of exceptional commitment to the development of craft in Ontario. Please see below for a full list of recipients.
Born in Ithaca, NY and raised in Québec, Laura now lives and works in Harrowsmith, Ontario. She studied sculpture in the early 1970s at the Escuela Nacional de Arte Cubanacan, in Havana. She went on to graduate with an honours BA from McGill University in1979 and continued her artistic training at Sheridan College School of Craft and Designgraduating in 1985, majoring in glass.
She has had significant solo and group exhibitions, (Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery, Waterloo; Galerie Elena Lee,Montréal; Habatat Gallery, Millville, NJ; The Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, the Museo del Vidrio, Mexico; and the Shanghai Museum of Modern Art), and her work resides in major international institutions, (Museum of Art & Design, NYC; Corning Museum; Tacoma Museum of Glass; and the Canadian Museum of History). As well, Laura has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants (Art Alliance of Contemporary Glass; Glass Art Association of Canada: Lifetime Achievement Award; Glass Art Society of America: Honourary Lifetime Membership Award; Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council grants).
She has taught generations of Canadian glass artists while on staff at Sheridan College and as a permanent part-time faculty member at Espace Verre in Montréal. She has helped mold curriculum and mentor students with her dynamic teaching style, boundary pushing mentality and considerable knowledge. Laura has spent decades instructing at the prestigious Pilchuck Glass School, Penland School of Crafts, the Corning Museum of Glass, and Red Deer College. She has been invited to teach, lecture and jury extensively throughout North America, Japan and Australia. She recently become an advisor to Harbourfront Centre artists-in-residence.
When Laura was president of the Glass Art Association of Canada, she was instrumental in uniting glass artists across Canada by publishing a quarterly magazine, The Glass Gazette. She was founding editor and went on to serve in that position for seven years; developing the publication into the major voice of the Canadian glass community.
One of Laura’s crowning glories is as founder and artistic director of the legendary Glass Fashion Show. Inaugurated at Harbourfront Centre in 1989 during the Glass Art Society conference, this fashion show invites artists from Canada and around the world, to create and wear unique costumes; Laura presents this extravaganza at glass events worldwide.
Michael Fortune is an internationally recognized designer and master furniture maker who maintains an active studio near his residence in Peterborough Ontario. Since receiving his diploma in furniture design from Sheridan College in 1974, Fortune has been designing and creating innovative one of a kind objects in wood, commissioned residential furnishings and items in limited editions. His reputation and outstanding craftsmanship has attracted an international clientele. Nationally, Fortune's work can be found in the public collections of the Craft Ontario, Museum of Civilization (Ottawa), Royal Ontario Museum, Claridge Collection of Canadian Art and Craft (Montreal), Massey Foundation Permanent Collection, Fleming College – Haliburton School of Art + Design, and The National Capital Collection at Rideau Hall, as well as numerous private collections.
In addition to Fortune’s incredible studio practice and reputation as one of Canada’s most talented furniture makers, he is also an outstanding teacher and mentor to many aspiring designers and makers across the globe. In the classroom, he openly shares his talent, knowledge and experiences with the students. His enthusiasm and passion for design and the handmade is contagious. He is inspirational and has been instrumental in enticing others into the tradition of making and doing with their hands.
Fortune’s talent for teaching is internationally recognized. He has taught at many schools and craft centers including; Sheridan College School of Crafts and Design, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute, the Rochester Institute of Technology (NY), Worcester Center for Crafts (Massachusetts), Anderson Ranch Arts Center (Colorado), Australian National University (Canberra Australia), Sturt School New South Wales (Australia), Centre for Fine Woodworking (Nelson, New Zealand), Savannah College of Art and Design (Georgia) and the Marc Adams School in Indiana where the fellowship program for advanced students has been named in his honor. In 1996 he accepted an invitation to become the first Chair of the new Wood Products Design program in Nelson, British Columbia. This two year contract saw the installation of all the facilities and the development of the core curriculum.
Fortune also believes in the importance of giving back and contributing to the social economy. He has been working with governments, international aid agencies and private investors to create wood based manufacturing opportunities for developing economies such as Trinidad, Belize, Mexico and Guyana. Identifying local and sustainable source materials, then designing wood products that would use the source materials, and finally providing onsite training by Michael himself, means that underdeveloped countries can learn to be self-sustaining through the act of making.
With over 40 years of making, teaching and mentoring, Fortune has accumulated a number of awards including the Award of Distinction from the Furniture Society (2007), Queens Jubilee Award (2003), Induction into Royal Academy of the Arts (2000), and the Prix Saidye Bronfman (1993) to name a few Additionally, he has participated in numerous exhibitions, been showcased in a variety of publications, provided consultations to many organizations and institutions around the world, and served on a variety of important craft related boards such as Craft Ontario across North America.
Beth Alber began her commitment to craft in 1970 when she entered Sheridan College School of Craft and Design. There she focused on metal work and immediately after graduation, took up part-time teaching in the metal studio at Mohawk College. In 1979, she moved to the Ontario College of Art and Design from which she has just retired as Professor Emerita. During these past four decades, Alber has been a teacher and mentor, a recognized artist and silversmith, a curator and promoter of the best in the fields of fine craft and public art.
Alber continued to pursue advanced study at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design where she received an MFA in 1994. There she absorbed NSCAD’s approaches to conceptual art, feminism and craft history. She returned to OCADU to invigorate the Jewellery Department where she was known for a certain strictness in her demand for design integrity and conceptual development. Alber has also been an active member and President of the Metal Arts Guild where she helped organize numerous exhibitions, catalogues, workshops and an international conference.
As a craftsperson her work has been recognized internationally. In 2007, she completed a beautifully wrought mace for the University of Ontario institute of Technology. Her best-known work is the commission of public art for the Women’s Monument Project in Vancouver, BC. The design and installation of this memorial to the 14 students killed at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique in 1989 bear witness both to her aesthetic and feminist sensibilities.
Alber is currently part of a silversmithing collective that exhibits regularly across Canada. In a series of themed shows the group promotes innovation in the traditional craft of silversmithing. She is also one of the founders of the *new* gallery collective, and Alber contributed enormously to its success as a venue for exhibiting craft based art from 2003 to 2011. In both her writing and lectures, Alber is enthusiastic about craft – searching out the work of historic craft movements and recording the current practice of Canadian jewelers.
Alber’s professionalism and dedication have helped to raise the level of craft not only in Ontario, but in Canada. Both her students and her peers acclaim her worthiness to be honoured for these exceptional qualities.
Lois’s professional achievements have been at the forefront of Canadian silver and goldsmithing for more than half a century. Gail Crawford, in her history of Ontario studio craft claims that Lois has been “accorded more distinctions than almost anyone in the arts field.”
Lois is a celebrated master maker, and absolutely instrumental to the development of Ontario Craft through her commitment to the crafts community—serving as board member or advisor to numerous crafts and arts organizations over the years—and through her teaching and mentorship of generations of makers, many of whom have spread out across the country and themselves worked as leading makers and teachers.
A major figure in the Canadian studio craft movement since its inception in the 1950s, Lois was one of a small number of women active in the Canadian movement at a time when the field was dominated by male artists and designers, many of whom had immigrated to Canada from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe. She has been referred to as the first modern Canadian silversmith to attain international stature in the studio craft movement.
In 1978, Lois became the second recipient of the annual Saidye Bronfman Award, Canada’s foremost national award for fine craft. In 1997, she was made a Member of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honour, bestowed for a lifetime of distinguished service to the community. In 2010, Lois’ impact in the metalsmithing community was recognized when she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society of North American Goldsmiths. These three honours reflect Lois’ significance in Canadian arts and culture, and in North American metal arts.
Born in Toronto, Joan Chalmers is a Canadian philanthropist and supporter of the arts. In 1972, she joined with her parents, Jean and Floyd Chalmers, to found the annual Chalmers Awards which recognize achievement in craft, dance, film, music, theatre and visual arts (from 1974 – 2002). In February 2002, two grant programs were introduced to replace the Chalmers Awards: the Chalmers Arts Fellowships and Chalmers Professional Development Grants.
Joan has distinguished herself not only by her financial support, but also by the energy she has devoted to the development of the arts through her leadership. She has sat on numerous boards including the World Crafts Council, Aid to Artisans (USA), the Glenn Gould Foundation, Harbourfront Centre and the Ontario Crafts Council, to name a few. Joan’s efforts have been recognized with the Governor General’s Award for Visual and Media Arts for Outstanding Contribution and through several honourary degrees. Additionally, she is a member of the Order of Ontario and is a Companion of the Order of Canada.
As the founding President of the Ontario Crafts Council, and through her involvement with the Canadian Handicraft Guild and the Canadian Crafts Council, Joan has been a visionary leader, a passionate advocate and committed supporter of craft in Ontario. Joan also recently received the inaugural Joan Chalmers Award that was established by the OCC to celebrate the spirit of community and giving, and which was presented at the 35th Anniversary dinner and gala in 2011.
For many years Joan has demonstrated great leadership and courage through her wide-ranging support of the Crafts and Arts communities in Ontario and Canada. She is truly a bright light which continues to shine in our hearts.
I strongly believe Alan Elder epitomizes the intention of this award. With a career spanning over three decades, Alan’s contribution to Ontario and Canadian craft is outstanding. He has held numerous roles within the field of contemporary craft in Ontario and Canada and has earned an esteemed international reputation. He is the only national curator for craft and design
mandated by a major Canadian cultural institution.
In 1997, Alan earned a Bachelor of Arts with distinction from the University of Victoria (BC) and his Masters of Art at the University of British Columbia in 2000. He studied Canadian art, art history, visual art and theory.
Alan Elder’s relationship with the Ontario Crafts Council began in 1986. He devoted seven years to the OCC and held various positions including: Curator, Associate Director and Interim Executive Director. Most notably as the Interim Executive Director he was responsible for daily management and direction, as well as, restructuring the Board of Directors, staff and programs. He curated and organized over 50 exhibitions for the OCC and steadfastly advocated for craft and craftspeople.
Alan is currently the curator of craft and design at the Canadian Museum of Civilization/Musée canadien des civilisations (CMC). Alan has increased the collection of craft including the prestigious Saidye Bronfman collection and initiated the CMC’s national design collection that now includes over 200 works of Canadian design. This makes it the largest collection of such works in Canada. As well as aiding his own study and exhibition activities, the CMC now has the foremost research collection of 20th and 21st century Canadian craft and design available to students, curators and scholars.
Alan’s curatorial practice at the CMC has been significant and includes: the Saidye Bronfman recipients’ solo exhibitions, accompanying texts and videos – Walter Ostrom and Kai Chan deserve particular merit; Unique! 30 Years of Outstanding Crafts the thirty year retrospective of the CMC’s collection of craft and Cool 60s Design, which in lieu of any national design policy in this country represents a vital contribution to the design legacy of Canada. Alan’s most recent curatorial project, Japan: Tradition, Innovation, was an exhaustively researched and ground breaking exhibition highlighting craft and design, tradition and innovation in the Edo Japan and post World War II eras. Without wanting to appear too effusive, this was a remarkable exhibition and achievement.
Alan Elder possesses a collaborative spirit and has worked with many of the country’s cultural institutions to realize exhibitions, collection loans, publications and projects such as: The Royal Ontario Museum, the Ontario Crafts Council, The Design Exchange, Harbourfront Centre and the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal. This strength extends to international partnerships as well, including; the National Museum of Japanese History and the Museum of Arts + Design, New York City [American Craft Museum]. The culmination of many lively conversations with Alan resulted in the major symposium, Crafting New Traditions: Innovators + Influences at Harbourfront Centre.
Alan is a consistent and enthusiastic participant at myriad craft and design events across Canada – often seen at exhibitions, conferences and cultural functions; talking and exchanging ideas with colleagues, artists, designers, patrons, students and curators alike. His unwavering dedication and support for the field of contemporary craft is exemplary. That is why Alan Elder continues to enjoy the utmost respect and appreciation of his colleagues and peers.
Andrew and Sandra Goss have been actively involved in Ontario’s craft community for 37 years; through this time they have shared a business, a studio and a life together. Andrew and Sandra are successful entrepreneurs, nurturers of local craft activities, and act as advisors and mentors to a vast number of students.
The Goss’s graduated from George Brown College's Jewellery Arts program in Toronto in the early 70’s, followed by a year studying jewellery at Hornsey College of Art in London, England. They moved to the Owen Sound region in 1976.
The Goss’s work is sold across Canada and in several cities throughout the United States. Their work has been shown in Canadian collections in London, Paris and Germany; and they are the recipients of many awards including ones from the Ontario Crafts Council, the Ontario Arts Council, the Metal Arts Guild and the Canada Council for the Arts.
Since 1970, Andrew Goss' jewellery and metalwork has been shown in over 100 exhibitions, ranging from solo to invitational group shows. He’s had solo shows at the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery in Owen Sound, David Kaye Gallery and Prime Gallery in Toronto, Harbinger Gallery in Waterloo and Karsh-Masson Gallery in Ottawa. He has been in 10 two-person shows with Sandra Noble Goss. Invitational shows have included the Electrum Gallery in London, England (1988), Schwabisch Gmund in Germany (1988), Galerie Aurus in Paris, France (1995), Velvet Da Vinci Gallery in San Francisco (2005) and many in Toronto, Canada.
Andrew’s sculptural work is in the collections of the Rolex Watch Company of Canada, UBS Bank (Canada) and the Department of External Affairs (Canadian Embassy, Berlin). He is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy (RCA), Society of North American Goldsmiths, Ontario Crafts Council, and Metal Arts Guild
Sandra Noble Goss's work in both jewellery and garden sculptures has been shown in many gallery shows since 1970, including a solo shows at Prime Gallery in Toronto in 1991, Harbinger Gallery in Waterloo in 2001, and Lefreniere & Pai Gallery in Ottawa in 2009. She has been in 10 two-person shows with Andrew Goss, including Lynda Greenberg Gallery in Ottawa in October 1994 and May 1996, and Prime Gallery in 1993. Her work has been part of invitational shows in the Electrum Gallery in London, England (1988), Schwabisch Gmund in Germany (1988), Galerie Aurus in Paris, France (1995) and many in Toronto, Canada.
Sandra teaches part-time in the Jewellery + Metals Program at Georgian College in Barrie which allows her to mentor young jewellers. She is a member of the Society of North American Goldsmiths, Ontario Crafts Council, and Metal Arts Guild.
Originally from Hong Kong, Lily Yung now lives and works in Toronto. While completing her Ph. D. in Immunology at the University of Alberta, she also studied printmaking. She began making jewellery in 1986, specializing in non-precious materials, but it wasn’t until 2004, through an Artist in Residence for Research project grant (supported jointly by the Canada Council for the Arts and the National Research Council of Canada), that her exploration into the design and fabrication of objects and jewellery through Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided
Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) began. Her main focus has been the creation of unique and limited edition jewellery using Rapid Prototyping (RP) systems. The aim is to integrate the skills of the craft artist and the technologies of manufacturing to fabricate unique jewellery while maintaining a relatively high level of output.
Beside RP systems, other CAD/CAM technologies utilized in Yung’s designs include die cutting, laser cutting, CNC milled molds for casting and water jet cutting. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally.
Lily Yung is a leading figure and key player in the fine craft, art, and design communities in Toronto and Canada. She ignores borders and boundaries that limit creativity but finds interest and stimulation in all areas of the arts and beyond.
Her involvement in the crafts community has been wide ranging. She held a seat in the Artists Health Centre Steering Committee, was one of the founding members of *new* gallery, was one of two partners in the production of the new vIews Talk Craft lecture series and a contributor to Craft + Ideas + New vIews, volumes I & II.
Yung has also given back to the community through her work in mentoring the next generation of practitioners. Her interaction with emerging designers has included giving workshops and lectures on her own work as well as taking on student interns and assistants. Her high standards, endless energy and quest for perfection set an example for all to emulate.
2009: David Kaye, Lillian Forester, Jonathon Bancroft-Snell
2008: Anne Chambers, Peter Fleming, Carolynn Pynn-Trudeau
2007: Melanie Egan, Alice Fournier, Kent Farndale
2006: Herbert O. Bunt, Gilles Latour, Rosemary Swan
2005: Judy Donaldson, Ruth Haig, Brian Truscott
2004: Bruce Cochrane, Pat James, Robert Têtu
2003: Keith Campbell, Doug Farndale, Ann Roberts
2002: Aggie Beynon,Winifred Shantz, Harold Takayesu
2001: Paulus Tjang, Melinda Mayhall, Susan Jefferies
2000: Jan Waldorf, Donn Zver, Jonathan E. Smith
1999: Anne Sneath, Gail Crawford, Peta Hall
1998: William Hodge, Judith Tinkl, Ann Suzuki
1997: Joan Francis, Edith Pierce, Mary Walker
1996: Eric Poschmann, Bill Corcoran, David McAleese & Alison Wiggins
1995: Scott Barnim, Anne Barros, Alison Vallance
1994: Heather Daymond, Wendy Shingler, Adrienne Van Riemsdijk
1993: Ron Roy, Shelagh Smith, Frank Tucker
1992: Barb Bolin, Mary Corcoran, David Wilde
1991: Susan Eckenwalder, Elizabeth Kantor, Ruth Markowitz
1990: Eunice Anders, Suzann Greenaway, Steve Irvine
1989: Robert Jekyll, Ted Carson, Leta Cormier
1988: Paula Letki, C. Kennedy May, Alice Peck Slavin
1987: Ankaret Dean, Joan Foster, Ann Mortimer
1986: Barbara Mather, Donald A. Stuart, Vincent Tovell, Susan Willoughby
1985: Dorthy Burnham C.M., Stephen Hogbin, Walter Sunahara
1984: Jean Johnson, Richard LaPrairie, Karen Smith
1983: Jean Burke, Elizabeth Dingman, Mary Eileen Hogg C.M.
1982: Helen Francis Gregor C.M., Dr. Franc Joubom, Yvonne Williams
1981: Tommia Vaughan-Jones, Hero Kielman, Donald McKinley