Craft Awards

Mary Diamond Butts Award in Embroidery and Needlecraft
          

 

Mary Diamond Butts was born Olive Mary Diamond in the village of Kingston, Kent, England (between Canterbury and Dover). She came to Canada as a war bride, having married the Rev. William E. Hitchens before leaving England. The couple settled in London, Ontario, and had two daughters. Olive, as she had been called until then, left her first husband in about 1969, and started to use her second name. From then on, she was Mary - or Bunty to close friends.

Since she married for the first time, Mary had always had a full-time job in addition to being a wife and mother, but her second husband, Robert E. Butts (then Head of the Philosophy Department at the University of Western Ontario) decided that she should now have time to devote to an activity that she really loved. Mary and Robert spent the academic year 1970-1971 in Faro, Portugal - and there Mary discovered embroidery. She made, among other things, a number of beautiful naive wall-hangings of her own design. Later, she was able to accomplish her ambition of studying at the Royal School of Needlework in London, England, from where she returned to Canada bringing an entire suitcase full of silk and metallic embroidery threads.

In the years before her sudden death in 1983, Mary turned to machine embroidery on silk which she dyed herself. Some especially memorable pieces were inspired by the reflections in the mirror windows of new high-rise buildings, and were composed of myriad tiny scraps of silk stitched together in beautiful but seemingly random patterns reminiscent of those formed in a kaleidoscope.

Images: Top detail: Lily Yung, SHArings. Laser cut acrylic, 2006. Variable dimensions, 3 cm - 8 cm h x 2 cm - 3 cm w.

   

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