Exhibition pays tribute to famous Canadian women

A jewellery exhibition that celebrates some of Canada’s most notable women will be making a stop in Orillia, Ont., next month.

Thirty-nine framed necklaces make up ‘Homage,’ each designed by Order of Canada recipient Donald A. Stuart. The one-of-a-kind pieces honour Canadians, such as Margaret Atwood, Diana Krall, Belinda Stronach, Kim Campbell, Laura Secord, and ‘queen of diamonds’ Eira Thomas. Since first introducing the collection in 2011, Stuart has added Supreme Court justice, Bertha Wilson, five-time Olympic medalist in hockey, Hayley Wickenheiser, and others.

“I created ‘Homage’ to celebrate and honour Canadian women, past and present,” Stuart says. “As a contemporary jewellery artist, I have used the familiar form of the necklace to explore history from a fresh perspective. This exhibition connects the arts with business, culture, and heritage.

“Necklaces are archetypal symbols of power and importance, and are a fitting vehicle to represent seminal women in Canadian history. The choices of materials for each necklace are as varied as the women themselves, each infused with meaning and significance.”

‘Homage’ runs from July 23 to Sept. 25 at the Orillia Museum of Art & History. The museum is home to thousands of artifacts from Orillia and its surrounding area. Sketched portraits of each of the women by Susan Benson accompany the neckpieces.

“The exhibition has an obvious educational component, as it offers particular insight into Canadian history from an atypical vantage point,” Stuart says. “Patrons of all ages comment that, visiting the exhibition, they are fascinated not only with learning about many of the women, but also seeing the diversity of the pieces.”