In Memoriam: Lois Etherington Betteridge (1928-2020)

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Photo: Keith Betteridge

Canada has lost a preeminent artist and educator with the passing of Lois Etherington Betteridge on February 21, 2020 in Guelph, Ontario. Internationally recognized for her exquisite sense of design and fabrication acumen with precious metals and stone, Lois was adored by family, friends, colleagues in the arts and metalsmithing community as well as collectors and students.

Born in 1928 to Dorothy and Alfred Etherington in Drummondville, Québec, Lois grew up in Hamilton and Burlington, Ontario. After a year at the Ontario College of Art, Lois graduated, BFA, from the University of Kansas in 1951, and returned to Canada to establish her own studios in Oakville and then Toronto. She later entered Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan for graduate studies, receiving her MFA in 1956 before moving to MacDonald Institute in Guelph. There she taught craft and design, rallied in her red MGA, and married Keith Betteridge, her husband of more than 59 years.

Lois practised and taught her craft fervently and without pause for 67 years. Her output of beautiful works, secular and liturgical, always meticulously made and often whimsical, was prodigious. It earned her national and international recognition and awards including the Saidye Bronfman Award for Excellence in Crafts and election to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1978, the Order of Canada in 1997 and a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society of North American Goldsmiths in 2010. Her work is to be found in private and public collections throughout the world, including those of two Canadian Prime Ministers, the Canadian Museum of History, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Royal Scottish Museum.

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Lois Etherington Betteridge: Coffee for Six Friends (left); Argosy (right). Photos: Keith Betteridge

Contemporary Canadian metalwork and public awareness of the field have been greatly influenced by Lois’ generous teaching, encouragement of all who wished to learn, and fostering of collective exhibitions. She mentored a succession of individual students in her studio, presented workshops in colleges across the country and, from 1984 to 2002, taught summer courses at the Haliburton School of Fine Arts. In 2000, an exhibition of her work, along with that of seven other Canadian silversmiths whom she had influenced, was held as a tribute to Lois at the MacDonald Stewart Gallery (now the Art Gallery of Guelph) and led the gallery to found a unique collection of contemporary Canadian silver. The exhibition also resulted in the informal establishment of “The Metal Collective”: peers, students and students-of-students of Lois, who continue to exhibit together and are carrying the discipline into the future.

A loving and laughing wife, mother, grandmother, house-remodeller, swimmer, wine-taster, party lover and Jack Russell terrier devotee, Lois was creating sensitively designed pieces right until the end. She leaves a lasting legacy in both work and inspiration for generations to come.

There will be a Celebration of Life for Lois in The Arboretum, University of Guelph, on Saturday May 2 at 2:00 pm.

Donations honouring Lois to Hospice Wellington in Guelph, Ontario or Craft Ontario would be welcome.

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Photo: Brigitte Clavette