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Light A Candle To Curse The Dark

September 23, 2023 @ 8:00 am - February 4, 2024 @ 5:00 pm

Amid the pomp and plump of Canada’s sesquicentennial, fifteen metalsmiths from across the country marked the occasion by crafting new sculptures from melted-down post-Confederation silver. Each piece is an expression of form and function – art object and candleholder – that, together, nod to the past and offer a glimpse of the future.

The original silver came from two Canadian families, who had used it over five generations but increasingly less often. They recognized that their tea and coffee sets, serving dishes, and cutlery had greater material value to the artists. They imagined something beautiful could be made from the old metal.

The metalsmiths transformed the silver into candleholders, each inspired by the accomplishments of Canadian women in the arts. Known as the “Illuminations” series, each piece includes a recognizable element from the source silver.

At Guelph Civic Museum, the candleholders are displayed within an exhibition that considers the local Victorian-era, when the fledgling colony aspired to silver service status. The exhibition looks frankly and truthfully at the colonial period, positioning “Illuminations” as its centre, and drawing from the artifacts, archives, and images in the museum’s collection.

Featured artists: Beth Alber (Toronto), Jackie Anderson (Calgary), Mary Anne Barkhouse (Kwakiutl First Nation), Anne Barros (Toronto), Brigitte Clavette (New Brunswick), Lois Etherington Betteridge (Guelph), Fiona Macintyre (Merrickville), Charles Funnell (Coburg), Chantal Gilbert (Ville de Québec), Elizabeth Goluch (Halifax), Mary K. McIntyre (Toronto), Kye-Yeon Son (Halifax), Myra Tulonen Smith (Almonte), Anne-Sophie Vallée (Montreal), and Ken Vickerson (Toronto).

Thank you to Laura Brandon (retired curator, Canadian War Museum) and Ann Malone-Bianconi (manager, interior design and crown collection, National Capital Commission) for loaning the “Illuminations” series to Guelph Museums. We also acknowledge key contributions from Keith Betteridge (photography), Rob Brandon, and Anne Greenlay.


September 23, 2023 @ 8:00 am
February 4 @ 5:00 pm
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Guelph Museums


Guelph Civic Museum
52 Norfolk Street
Guelph, Ontario N1H 4H8 Canada
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