STERLING – an exhibition by the Jewellery/Metal Arts Studio of the NB College of Craft and Design

Closing post-secondary institutions and students having to learn online have been the norm in New Brunswick for over a year. But we have found an exception. And it is literally a shining example.

The Jewellery/Metal Arts Studio of the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design (NBCCD) is a hands-on program which prepares graduates in advanced and complex silversmithing techniques. And they really would not be able to learn these skills online. So, the administration carefully weighed their options last summer and a smaller group of students were permitted to participate with a new, clever, strict operational plan in adherence with Public Health requirements.

If you ever get a chance to visit the studio, you will be struck by the machinery and many tools and benches for creating, but there is a lot of sharing required. But even with a stringent cleaning protocol and masks in their shared space, the students flourished.

Carrie Nowlan, Director of the NBCCD, particularly enjoyed this year’s program, “Watching the students in the jewelry/metal arts program shape, cast, and refine metal into pieces that delight the eyes has been heartening. That learning in action, in person, in our studios with such a dedicated group of learners continues to occur during such a challenging year is something to be celebrated.”

The benefits of a class of six that would normally be twelve cannot be overstated. The students were fully engaged, anxious to work hard and learn and they had so much more focused time with their teachers. I spoke with 1st year Jewelry/Metal Arts student Kaitlyn Derrah (who is receiving her Bachelor of Applied Arts this year), who was enthusiastic about the opportunity to be challenged by new techniques. Her favorite was using the hydraulic press, which typically is not part of the curriculum until well into year 2. Her sterling silver and brass creation entitled “Lotus Seed Pod ring” shows this learning to advantage. She is grateful for this year and summed it up well, “we just want to keep learning”.

If you were not aware, the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design’s Jewellery/Metal Arts program has an incredibly glowing and far-reaching reputation. Kristyn Cooper, Brigitte Clavette, Erica Stanley and Kristen Bishop are award-winning metalsmiths and exceptional teachers. Like other outstanding teachers, they go above and beyond, are patient and are solidly invested in the development of their students. And the students desire to excel. The resulting pieces have a pleasing, balanced design aesthetic and are always expertly finished. I have clients from across Canada that visit us regularly (and will again after COVID) who seek out the excellent work of these students and declare it to be the best of any program in Canada.

But it is not only the attention to detail and the focus on excellence that sets the program apart. Students’ exploration and use of other tools is encouraged. “New technology is so exciting.” says Brigitte Clavette. “It would have taken her (Jo Haley) days to carve the wax for her lost-wax casting of her “Jackalope skulls” which she has now designed and printed using 3D modelling”.

The student’s end of the year exhibition entitled “Sterling” has been generously hosted for a decade at the Lieutenant Governor’s house, which provided such an elegant, stately space. But this year there is some work being done at the Lt. Governor’s house and we offered to hold it at Gallery 78.  For over a decade, we have been a proud sponsor of the exhibition and every year, I am amazed at the work that is produced. The craftsmanship, originality and unique “voice” that is evident in the creations always impresses us. In addition to the “Best Collection” that we award to one student, we are thrilled to offer a public component this year. We welcome all to visit the exhibition in person or online at and vote for their favourite creation. The piece with the most votes will win the “People’s Choice” award.

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all the graduates and other students in this show, which is a pleasure to behold. I am excited to see where all your careers will take you. You make New Brunswick so proud!

Germaine Pataki-Thériault, Managing Director, Gallery 78

Gallery 78 helps sponsor the NBCCD STERLING exhibition each year. This article appeared in the Daily Gleaner in April 2021 when Gallery 78 hosted STERLING.

In 2022, Gallery 78 was proud to continue selling students' available works online, while the works were exhibited at Fredericton's Government House, their original exhibition home.

Stay tuned in April 2023 for the latest STERLING exhibition!

This article appeared in the Daily Gleaner in April 2021.