Nova Scotia

Halifax jewelry artist wins Governor General's Award

Pamela Ritchie has won a prestigious national award, but you'd be hard-pressed to find her work in your local store.

NSCAD University Prof. Pamela Ritchie says she's thrilled to win prestigious award

Halifax jewelry artist Pamela Ritchie has won a Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts. (Courtesy Canada Council)

A Halifax jewelry artist has won a prestigious national award, but you'd be hard-pressed to find her work in your local store.

NSCAD University Prof. Pamela Ritchie is the winner of the 2017 Saidye Bronfman Award, part of the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

"I was thrilled. It is a tremendous acknowledgement of your peers," said Ritchie. "There's a lot of people who deserve it, there's a lot of very fine craftspeople out there."

Ritchie said her work isn't well-known locally, as it is shown largely in other cities, and appears mostly in galleries, not stores.

"The work that I do is generally called art jewelry," she said. "That means that the work has more of an interest in the changes and development and statement and the poetic side, or emotive side, of jewelry."

Three hair ornaments created by Ritchie. (Submitted by Pamela Ritchie)

Ritchie's work often explores a wide variety of materials, processes and techniques. Her current work is based on scientists who have made a huge difference in human lives in the last century.

She is focused on Joseph Lister, a British surgeon who pioneered using antiseptics in surgery, particularly carbolic acid.

"The work … is developing an image of him and some of the scientific formulas used in carbolic acid," she said. "It is made with sterling silver and wood."

This brooch is from 1985. (Submitted by Pamela Ritchie)

Ritchie said the vertical piece is of a larger scale than would normally hang from a small necklace. But it can still be worn.

"There are pieces that are made in the art jewelry field that are meant to question the wearability of it," she said. "But something I have maintained in my work is the ability to wear it. Nothing is too heavy. I definitely feel it is important to make work that is wearable.

"Because I like to draw attention to a triad, that is the maker, the wearer and the viewer."

Ritchie will receive her Governor General's Award March 1 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

"I feel very lucky to have followed this career. It isn't as well-known as it should be but it's a tremendously creative field."

Another brooch created by Ritchie. (Submitted by Pamela Ritchie)

With files from David Burke

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