2017 Saidye Bronfman Award

The Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council (NSDCC) is proud to announce the 2017 Saidye Bronfman Award winner Pamela Ritchie! The NSDCC was deeply honoured to have nominated Pamela Ritchie for the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts and would like to pass along our sincere congratulations on this amazing achievement.

Canada's foremost distinction for excellence in the fine crafts, the Saidye Bronfman Award recognizes the exceptional work of individuals who have also made significant contributions to the development of the fine crafts in Canada. Celebrating it's 40th anniversary, the $25,000 annual award is one of the largest individual prizes for fine craft in Canada. In addition to the cash prize, works by the recipient are acquired by the Canadian Museum of History for its permanent collection.

The award is adjudicated by a peer assessment committee comprised of craftspeople from across the country. Together they consider all aspects of aesthetics, including creativity, innovation and technical mastery. They also consider the nominee's contribution to the development of the fine crafts in Canada over a significant period of time. The award-winning artists represent the country’s best and most influential craftspeople, including masters in ceramics, glass, furniture, textiles, book binding, and metalwork/jewellery.

"People think of jewellery as something that is simply ornament and has very little to say. But when you start to really look at something for a long time that’s that small and detailed, you’re carried off into a place that is like a dream.” - Pamela Ritchie

Find a video of Ritchie speaking about her work here.

For more than four decades, Ritchie has been conversing deeply using the language of jewellery.  While her work is often described as cerebral, Ritchie’s work first appeals to your emotions – the initial spark of a conversation that becomes more and more layered.  She is able to seamlessly combine centuries-old techniques with cutting-edge technology to create works of exquisite beauty laden with meaning.
Ritchie’s jewellery brings together traditional craft processes, contemporary ideas of science and culture, and the language of materials. Her work celebrates the concentrating effect of detail, and the paradox that an abundance of ideas, form and pattern can be encapsulated in small objects.
Ritchie brings a long-standing and broad interest in body adornment to her jewellery.  She initially combined her jewellery education at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (BFA 1975) with theatre studies at Dalhousie University.  From 1974-76, she worked as a supervisor and instructor in Dalhousie’s Theatre Department, and for several years thereafter she combined her jewellery practice with costume creation for professional theatre.
However, her passion for jewellery soon dominated, and in 1979 she decided to seek fresh inspiration with an in-depth investigation of a particular body of complex, historically significant work: bunadsylv, a traditional type of Norwegian filigree that incorporates intensely decorative surfaces
Ritchie seems fearless in her approach to materials and process, and allies that boldness with her superbly rigourous technique. As an educator – leading the NSCAD Jewellery Department for more than 30 years – she has also encouraged that same sense of exploration in her students. Ritchie was the first to champion the use of CAD/CAM and rapid prototyping in jewellery education in Canada, and she continues to advocate for curriculum innovation her field.

Ritchie’s award-winning work has been shown in 100+ exhibitions throughout North America, Australia, Asia and Europe, and featured in books, catalogues and periodicals, including the Mary E. Black Gallery with an exhibition titled “Worlds You Can Wear”, May-July 2015 and more recently she was a part of the Xl/Excel Master Artisan Exhibition in 2016. The Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Kunstindustrimuseum, Norway, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and the Nova Scotia Art Bank are among the major institutional collectors of her work. She is represented by Montreal’s Galerie Noel Guyomarc’h, which is presenting a retrospective of her work in spring 2017.