Mather Award for Lifetime Achievement

John and Barbara Mather Award for Lifetime Achievement

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.


The 2024 call for nomination is now open! The deadline is June 3, 2024, 11:59 PM

Recipients of the John and Barbara Mather Award receive recognition, a medal to commemorate their achievements and $500. 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.

Craft Ontario Organization Members, past Mather Award recipients, and leaders from Ontario-based craft sector organizations and educational institutions are eligible for submitting a nomination.

Nominations must be received by the Craft Ontario office by the submission deadline, and must include:

    • A two page letter of nomination, written by an authorized representative, that outlines why the individual is worthy of the award and recognition for lifetime achievement.
    • The letter of nomination must also include a description of the nominee’s involvement in supporting craft, and a brief explanation of the nominee’s connection to your organization, if applicable.
    • A current CV of the nominee's professional background.

Should your nominee be chosen by the jury for the Award, you will be required to submit a high resolution photo of the nominee and a current biography.

You may submit nominations as printed or digital documents. If you are submitting a print package, please mail to Craft Ontario at 1106 Queen Street West, Toronto ON, M6J 1H9, and include the heading attn: Craft Awards Program. If you are submitting your nomination in digital format, please send as either PDF or word documents, and email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you have any questions about the process or requirements of nomination, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2023 Recipient

Rachel MacHenry

Rachel MacHenry has been a tireless leader in textile arts, craft, and design in Ontario, in Canada, and internationally. As an artist, designer, curator, teacher, researcher and community leader, her work spans over thirty three years. She recieved an MA in TextileAs an artist, designer, curator, teacher, researcher and community leader, her work spans over thirty-three years. She received an MA in Textile from Central Saint Martin’s in 1998 and was an artist-in-residence at Harbourfront Centre. Her work is part of the permanent collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, UK), and she has exhibited internationally (most recently the BAAG: GARDEN embroidery installations with the Indus Heritage Trust for UNESCO, Pakistan) and nationally at venues such as Harbourfront Centre (1994, 1995, 1999 2005, 2014 and 2018), the Toronto Offsite Design Festival (2014, 2016, 2017), Ontario Craft (2015), and the Royal Ontario Museum (1997).

Her textile design practice focuses on sustainable and innovative processes, and she has worked extensively with community-based co-operatives in South Asia and South America to develop functional textiles using local materials for oversea markets, with clients including catalogue companies, museum shops and high-end retailers. Her textile lines have been featured in the New York Times Magazine and Selvedge magazine. Currently, her Botanica Tinctoria line provides naturally dyed cloth and embroidery threads from India to the North American public. In her collaboration with Munira Amin through Handwork Studio, she works with weavers, traditional block printers and dyers in Pakistan to develop naturally dyed block-printed home textiles. In her design projects with 7Weaves in Assam, India, she works with local female textile makers using locally produced Eri silk and natural dyes to create high-end textiles. In the recent past, she has worked with local and indigenous textile communities in Peru, Chile, Rwanda, and Nepal.

Rachel’s textile design and production work intertwines environmental care, social development and social justice. She works tirelessly to make it possible for textile communities to achieve economic gains and stability by fostering ways to reinvent traditionally produced textiles through contemporary collaborative design processes, enabling the strengthening of communities as they showcase to the rest of the world their traditional techniques and sustainable practices of working with local materials. Rachel’s work is therefore profoundly engaged in decolonization, engaging with fair trade practices as well as the valorization of traditional textile knowledges as central to addressing the immense damages of the mainstream global textile industry. Her collaborative artistic work in that regard has turned to focus on collaborative, community-engaged design processes, most recently through a series of Ontario Arts Council-funded collaborative embroidery projects with embroiders in Pakistan and from the Middle East and South Asian diaspora in Toronto that will be shown at the Daniels Launchpad and at Harbourfront Centre in the fall of 2023. Rachel’s vision for creating networks and communities that are both local and global is unique in its commitment to breaking down invisible barriers that typically prevent craft-makers from being fully recognized in the creative process.

Rachel’s curatorial work focuses on showcasing artists working with natural dyes, local materials and fabric upcycling and recycling. She curated the exhibition for the Natural Dyes in Northeast America Conference in 2020 (moved online due to the pandemic) and the Chromatic Geography: Natural Dyes in the 21st Century at the Craft Ontario Gallery (Toronto, summer 2017). She has published her research into natural dyes, sustainability and fair trade collaborations in Cocoa and Jasmine Magazine and Selvedge, and presented it in professional (Botanical Colors, Toronto Offsite Design Festival) and artistic venues (Royal Ontario Museum, Harbourfront Centre).

Rachel has been tirelessly teaching the textile community about sustainable textile production practices throughout her career. She has taught for many years at OCADU and was Studio Head -Textiles for the Craft & Design Program at Sheridan College.  She has also created curriculum for textile workshops with the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees in 2019. She has taught many classes for textile artists, professionals, enthusiasts and the general public. Notably, she was one of the founding members of the Contemporary Textile Studio Co-op in 2006 and has been its president for over ten years. The Contemporary Textile Studio Co-op has established itself as a hub for both established and emerging textile artists, engaging in textile arts, craft, and design creation; teaching and community outreach; and research and innovation. Under her leadership, CTS has become a place for both textile artists and the general public to gain affordable in-depth textile knowledge and practice. Its programming has seen many local and international artists (e.g. Sandra Brownlee, Dorothy Caldwell, Rowland Ricketts) teaching workshops over the years. Rachel’s expertise has been central to developing CTS’ vision, organization, and curriculum, particularly regarding mentoring and supporting emerging artists, fostering a diverse community, innovating on sustainable textile processes, and promoting traditional and indigenous textile practices from across the world.

2022 Recipient

Susan Card

Susan Card is an accomplished and internationally recognized artist in her own right, and a driving force in the clay community since she embarked upon her career in 1989.

After her initial education (B.F.A., University of Manitoba; Sheridan College, B.H.Ec; Metchosin International Summer School for the Arts-Glaze Chemistry), Card worked as part-time faculty at Sheridan College (1996-2003), while also teaching pottery classes for the City of Toronto and Cedar Ridge Creative Centre (1994-2005).

Susan’s range of ceramic work reflects her interest in art history: exploring forms, motifs and processes, from functional domestic pieces to expressive abstract sculptures. Her ceramic work has been recognized with awards from the Potters Guild of Hamilton and Region and the Art Gallery of Burlington. She has created numerous private commissions and her work can be found in many permanent collections.

Susan’s has participated in, curated, or acted as a juror for over 150 exhibitions. She is also a prolific writer, with numerous articles that can be found in a wide range of publications. She works tirelessly: writing grants and applications in support of the clay community, advocating for funds or support for exhibitions, facility development, artist recognition, and more.

In 2006 Susan Card opened “DISH GALLERY + Studio” in the Distillery Area of Toronto. This permanent location allows Susan to teach as well as serve as a crucial resource for retailing the work of many clay artists from across the province.

One of Susan’s long-time volunteer commitments was to FUSION: The Ontario Clay and Glass Association, from 1989 to 2011. Her primary focus every year was to organize and deliver a conference where clay artists from around the world would come to demonstrate their technical skills and share their life stories and knowledge. Susan worked closely with guilds in various regions of Ontario, using facilities at Colleges and Universities throughout Ontario, in order to serve the larger population of ceramic artists throughout the province. These conferences were no small undertaking with demonstrations, exhibitions, vendor rooms, preconference workshops, as well as opportunities to socialize and network with artists from all over Ontario. Her volunteer work with FUSION was recognized with a Lifetime membership in 1998.

Her generosity and enthusiasm for teaching and mentorship, in addition to her community-building expertise, gave her the energy and commitment to establish a permanent facility for the Toronto Potters Association. In 2017 Susan spearheaded a group to locate a facility and set up a clay studio to serve as a ceramic community hub in the heart of downtown Toronto. Not only were the logistics demanding, but sourcing equipment, teachers and managing all of the financials were a colossal undertaking. When COVID hit, she did not back away from the challenges of keeping this enterprise financially sound. Today there is a waiting list for classes and the studio is a beehive of purposeful activity.

Susan continues to be an extremely active volunteer. She is the Director of Programming for both the Toronto Potters Association and the Burlington Potters Guild. She further coordinates a community booth at the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair to encourage and support individuals interested in learning more about the craft fair experience, including mentoring new artists. With her generosity of spirit, boundless energy, and dedication to creating enriching opportunities for the craft community, Susan can be counted on to make things happen. Her leadership and commitment to advancing the craft is widely respected in the ceramic’s community, and she is a strong advocate for clay artists across Ontario.

2021 Recipient

Jayne Nevins

Jayne Nevins is an exceptional advocate and role model for the craft of rug hooking, and the community of rug hookers throughout the province.

When Jayne first took a rug hooking class and saw what the craft was all about, she was “hooked”. After completing several pieces, she realized that she wanted to teach others, and enrolled in the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild Teachers Training program, graduating in 1999. She then attended the Southern McGowan Teachers’ workshops in West Virginia and received U.S. accreditation in 2006. This experience was a watershed moment for Jayne. All the while, she was teaching workshops throughout Canada and the U.S. The more Jayne learned about rendering shapes, texture and colour within the media of wool fabric, yarn and other alternate materials, the more she became involved in the community and the promotion of rug hooking as a craft. To learn more about fibre arts, Jayne enrolled in the Fibre Arts program at St. Lawrence College and received her certificate in Fibre Arts – Rug Hooking in 2014.

Jayne’s leadership in the rug hooking craft community was quickly recognized when she joined the Ontario Hooking Craft Guild,, Board in 2006. Jayne has held every position on the Board over the last 14 years. She became President of the OHCG Teachers Branch in 2010, has been the Director of the Ontario Teacher Training program from 2012 to present, and in 2017 became Rug Hooking School Director and the OHCG Annual Advisor. Because Jayne has such a wealth of experience on the OHCG Board she mentors new Board members and helps them evolve successfully in their roles.

Although Jayne retired from the Board in 2020, it did not take long for OHCG members to seek out her advice, knowledge and unlimited skill set. She is a true supporter of the craft of rug hooking and is continuing her extensive involvement in community projects. She deeply believes that it is important to be visible and share the craft of rug hooking with the general public. She has demonstrated in museums, libraries, schools and community centres, and as part of the OHCG ‘Outreach’ committee, she furthers the mandate to demonstrate the joys of rug hooking at fleece and yarn festivals throughout the province in order to entice and recruit more young people into the craft. In Jayne’s own words: “It is important to educate everyone of the new possibilities in rug hooking and it is important to volunteer your time on the Board or on committees as well, to keep our rug hooking community together and growing!”

During this difficult past year when in-person gatherings were not permitted, Jayne again immediately stepped up and organized 48 very successful virtual workshops that were attended by 500 members from all over the continent and beyond. In addition, the Annual Rug School will be held virtually, and Jayne has volunteered to be on the organizing committee.

Not only does Jayne continue to teach extensively throughout North America, but she also continues to design and sell her own rug hooking work. Jayne continually shares her knowledge and skills with others and is always ready to provide mentorship to those who request it. Jayne is a consummate fibre artist who has earned great respect from the Rug Hooking community.

2020 Recipient

Denis Longchamps

Dr. Denis Longchamps has been a supporter and collector of craft since his early 20's while working in the floral industry and retail management. Through his 20+ year career supporting and advocating for craft, Denis has been unwavering in his commitment. He earned a BA in Visual Arts at York University in Toronto, before moving home to Montreal in 1999 to complete first a master's in art history, followed by a Ph. D at Concordia University. Throughout his curatorial work, teaching, writing, advocating, and mentorship, he has made outstanding contributions to Ontario and Canada's craft scene, contributions that deserve significant recognition.

Denis started to work on curatorial and writing projects in 2000. The first solo craft exhibition he curated, Looks on the Future: a Retrospective of the François-Houdé Awards, was first presented in Brouage, France (2003), then Montréal (2004) before touring various venues until 2006. The previous year he curated the critical exhibition 50 years of the Salon des métiers d'art du Québec, which celebrated 50 years of craft in Québec with more than 250 objects from as many makers covering the period of 1955 to 2005. The exhibition first presented at Place Bonaventure, adjacent to the Salon, followed by an encore presentation at the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec until the end of March 2006. 

Later that year, he co-curated Re-crafting Tradition with Elaine Cheasley Paterson, a recently appointed Craft historian faculty at Concordia. Together, they organized a symposium on the same subject for which they were hoping to publish the proceedings. Recognizing that there were not many avenues to publish on Canadian Craft, in 2007, he decided to launch Cahiers métiers d'art: Craft Journal, which he continued to publish until 2016. 

Denis taught the history of ceramics at Concordia University and contemporary craft at York University (2015-2016). He writes and publishes extensively on craft for exhibition catalogues, books, magazines, journals, and web publications and presents at and chairs many conferences and symposiums throughout Canada and Europe.

In 2016, Denis co-founded the Canadian Craft Biennial that launched the following year. Developed in partnership between Craft Ontario and the Art Gallery of Burlington, the Biennial included makers and writers' residencies, four exhibitions (international, national, provincial and regional), a 2-day conference, a publication, as well as a workshop lead by Anton Reijnders, from the Netherlands. The opening of the national exhibition was presided over by The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Through Denis's passion, the 2017 Canadian Craft Biennial was born, a national event that advanced public discourse and dialogue on craft in Canada. 

In addition to Denis curatorial and educational work, he has sat on many juries, including the Saydie Bronfman award in 2018 and the Salt Spring National Award in 2017. He has also served the arts and cultural sector more broadly in a voluntary capacity as a member of many Boards and Committees including the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery (2008-2009), the Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, the Centre de céramique Bonsecours, the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec, the Musée de Joliette, and Studio Magazine. He is a Research Fellow at NSCAD University and an Associate Member of the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art at Concordia University. 

From 2013 until 2018, Denis was Artistic Director and Chief Curator of the Art Gallery of Burlington, an institution that is home to seven guilds with studios mostly focused on craft mediums. During his tenure, Denis helped shape the strategic plan of a public art gallery with a strong focus on craft. In 2018 he became the Executive Director of the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo, Ontario and, over the past two years, has reinvigorated the organization, excelling its mandated focus as a center of excellence for glass, ceramic and enamel art on a national level. 

Denis's generosity of spirit and his enthusiasm for craft are evident in equal measure through his leadership as a Museum Director, his prolific writing and speaking engagements, active mentorship of emerging makers and his voluntary services. He thrives in a rich cultural environment, an environment in many ways he has fostered throughout his career. As an active member of Ontario's dynamic craft community, his contributions are more deep-rooted than any list of achievements and awards can express.

2019 Recipient

Volunteer Committee

With over forty years of supporting the craft community, the Craft Ontario Volunteer Committee has had a profound impact on the careers of individual craft artists across the province, as well as the overarching longevity and vibrancy of Craft Ontario.

The Volunteer Committee’s roots extend to the early 1900’s, when a dynamic group of craft enthusiasts founded the Canadian Handicrafts Guild in order to support the careers of craft artists who strive to make a living from their work. As public support for local craft grew in the following decades, an Ontario chapter group was established in 1931, called the Canadian Guild of Crafts. Shortly thereafter, a key initiative took place when Lady Eaton supported Jean Chalmers and her volunteer friends by opening a space at the Eaton’s College Street store to sell craft to the public. This marked the beginning of The Guild Shop, or the Craft Ontario Shop, as we know it today. In addition to retail support, the Guild worked to connect craft artists with materials that were otherwise difficult to secure by purchasing them wholesale, particularly during a time of economic depression.

By 1969 the Canadian Guild of Crafts became known for programming an expansive roster of juried exhibitions. 1974 marked a significant achievement through an exciting partnership with the World Crafts Council to deliver the internationally acclaimed “In Praise of Hands” exhibition at the Ontario Science Centre. This successful endeavour not only created a nest egg of funds for the Volunteer Committee, but also encouraged the prospect of organizational growth – particularly that the Guild should join with the Ontario Craft Foundation. The merger of these two organizations in 1976 became the Ontario Crafts Council, which now operates as Craft Ontario.

With a drive to support the development of professional craft practice, and aligning with the organization’s new Dundas Street location, Joan Chalmers brought in support from the Junior League of Toronto to renew the focus and organization of the Volunteer Committee. With Mary Corcoran serving as the first President, the Committee increased their membership and level of engagement, with many volunteers from the original Guild recommitting their efforts to support craft.

At the heart of the Volunteer Committee is a love of beautiful handmade objects, the corresponding desire to learn more about craft artists, and drive to promote their skilled techniques and processes. As such, the Volunteer Committee has a long record of organizing presentations and workshops.

At the same time, the Committee found that there was a need for financial aid to support the careers of craft artists, and decided to augment their volunteer contribution of time each month towards raising funds for awards. With sound investment of their funds in the 1980’s, and continued fundraising through events, the Volunteer Committee’s ability to support the careers of craft artists through awards over the past four decades has been substantial. The Volunteer Committee is the reason that the Craft Awards Program exists today, and they were among the first to launch and sustain an annual financial opportunity for professional craft artists at a time when few such awards existed. Hundreds of craft artists have benefitted from the Committee’s efforts, with many tens of thousands of dollars awarded.

The Volunteer Committee has been at the heart of countless Craft Ontario outreach and education initiatives, and has likewise engaged audiences throughout Toronto by giving presentations to various groups to educate them about craft practice. With the support and promotion of craft artists as an ongoing inspiration, the Volunteer Committee further developed the coordination of bus trips and studio tours to connect with and learn about craft artists across the province.

Overall, the Volunteer Committee has left an indelible mark on the Ontario craft community. The Committee not only has roots in the earliest provincial efforts to organize and promote craft, but in the very formation and continuity of Craft Ontario itself. Furthermore, countless craft artists can thank the Volunteer Committee for financial support in developing their careers, and for opportunities to present and share their work.

In June 2016, the Craft Ontario Volunteer Committee wrapped up operations as an official association, with a commitment to continue supporting the Awards Program until 2019. As such, the Volunteer Committee is being recognized during the final year in which the Volunteer Awards will be presented.

Honouring the Volunteer Committee for their decades of hard work and dedication is not only fitting at this time, but long overdue. There is no other group more worthy of recognition through the John and Barbara Mather Award for Lifetime Achievement.


Leslie Adamson*
Jane Allen
Marg Baker*
Mary Brebner
Jane Bright*
Dorothy Burton
Mary Comi*
Elsie Cooper
Mary Corcoran*
Sharon Court*
Cherie Daitchman*
Louise Dimma*
Jacqueline Elton
Michèle Fordyce*
Alice Fournier*
Mary Lou Gilchrist
Barbara Goldring
Airdrie Thompson Guppy
Marcia Hays
Fern Hellard
Sandra Hore
Ona Humphreys*
Judy Kennedy
Merle Kerr*
Mary-Patricia Kielty
Ingrid Laidlaw
Kathy Lakatos*
Helen Lavine*
Katalin Lawford


Eva Lorinc 
Margaret Little
Sue McCoy
Cynthia Macdonald 
Adrian Mann* 
Pat Marshall 
Sharon McLeod
Phyllis McTaggart 
Pat Marshall
Joan Milburn* 
Jane Moore*
Edith Nerlich* 
Carol Paine 
Helen Paul 
Monica Peel* 
Rosiane Read 
Margaret Reid*
Damaris Robinson 
Kay Saunders
Margaret Smith 
Donna Stradiotto*
Judith Strauss 
Jane Tilley*
Tommia Vaughn Jones
Mary Wemp
Penny White
Jennie Wilson 
Frances Wright

*Served as Committee President

2018 Recipient

Rosalyn Morrison

Nominated by Robert Jekyll, founding President of the Canadian Crafts Federation

In her leadership roles in the arts and culture sector over two decades, Rosalyn Morrison focused on strategy development for provincial and national organizations and establishing partnerships. She began her craft career as the first Assistant Curator of the Ontario Crafts Council’s Gallery. She went on to co-found the Institute of Contemporary Canadian Craft and led the collaborative effort to produce the Making and Metaphor: a discussion of meaning in contemporary craft and Common Ground: contemporary craft, architecture and the decorative arts ground-breaking conferences and publications. She led the first cross-province survey for the evaluation of Craft Programs, supported by the Ontario Arts Council. She extensively researched and wrote about the Contemporary Canadian Glass Movement and curated Canadian Glassworks and The Passage of Light exhibitions, presented at the newly opened Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC, and supported by the OCC. She also was a Guest Editor for the Canadian edition of New Work Magazine, published by the New York Experimental Glass Workshop.

In 1997, she took on the challenge of being the Executive Director of the Ontario Crafts Council, when they had lost all government funding. Working with staff, the Board of Directors, and a large number of volunteers, Rosalyn guided a reorganization of the business model, the launch of a new brand and website, and the delivery of provincial and national initiatives.

Her community involvement has included serving as Vice Chair, Board of Governors, Ontario College of Art and Design University; Chair, Ontario Summer Games Legacies Committee; and Chair of the Playing for Keeps collaboration, a social legacy inspired by the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games. In addition, she has served on advisory committees for ArtReach, Metcalf Foundation, George Brown College, Community Foundations of Canada and the City of Toronto.

She is also passionate about the power of community. As the recently retired Senior Advisor to the CEO at the Toronto Foundation, she was involved in connecting philanthropy to community needs and opportunities. In her final project, she led the Foundation team and a large collaboration of major organizations on a survey project to benchmark Social Capital – Trust, Social Networks, Civic Connections, and Neighbourhood Support.

Previously, as Vice President of Community Initiatives, she led the development of Toronto’s Vital Signs®, an annual quality of life Report, Community Knowledge Centre, an online portal of over 200 community organizations working on solutions to city issues; and Vital Toronto Fund grant programs and collaborative projects. During this time, she worked closely with the arts community to ensure that arts and culture data was gathered and highlighted.

Currently, she serves as Chair of the Board of Directors, Institute of Southern Georgian Bay and as a Board member of the Blue Mountain Village Foundation. The Institute is launching a new Speaker Series and the first event will be Arts & Culture: a significant driver for economic growth and creative and healthy regions.

2017 Recipient

Laura Donefer

Nominated by Melanie Egan, Director Craft & Design at Harbourfront Centre

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.

2016 Recipient

Michael Fortune

Nominated by Haliburton School of Art + Design

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.

2015 Recipient

Beth Alber

Nominated by Anne Barros, Mary Corcoran, Melinda Mayhall,
Wendy Shingler and Lois Betteridge

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.

2014 Recipient

Lois Etherington Betteridge

Nominated by the Craft Ontario Board of Directors

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.

2013 Recipient

M. Joan Chalmers C.C. O.ONT.

Nominated by the Ontario Crafts Council Board of Directors

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.

2012 Recipient

Alan Elder

Nominated by Melanie Egan, Head of the Craft Department at Harbourfront Centre

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.

2011 Co-Recipients

Andrew Goss and Sandra Noble Goss

Nominated by the OCC Board of Directors

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.

2010 Recipient

Lily Yung

Nominated by *new* gallery

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.

Lily Yung accepts her 2010 Mather Award from Ontario Crafts Council on Vimeo.

Past Recipients

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: Dorothy 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 Frances Gregor C.M., Dr. Franc Joubom, Yvonne Williams
1981: Tommia Vaughan-Jones, Hero Kielman, Donald McKinley

Who We Are

Formerly the Ontario Crafts Council, Craft Ontario is a not-for-profit service organization that works to have craft recognized as a valuable part of life. We promote and celebrate professional craft through providing member opportunities, and advocate for craft practice by educating and empowering diverse audiences.