By Dee Dwyer
On my studio wall is a print by the artist Kath Kornelsen Rutherford. “Celtic Blanket” (1981) is a landscape of overlapping fields of different Celtic interweavings, each in various muted shades of yellow, pink, and green. Superimposed over these rich and abundant fields are three very tall stalks of thistle. The effect is a beautiful play of colours and images.
Kath Rutherford is a printmaker and painter who weaves her artistic and crafty skills through her work, which include mosaics, Ukrainian style Easter eggs, marvelous hooked rugs, and complex knitting projects—and she also plays the fiddle with a group called Cole’s Notes.
Music, she says, is “messing about, for fun” but she is a dedicated artist. “I like making things,” she volunteers as she and I talk in her treasure-filled studio built thirty-one years ago, when her son Brendan was born. On one wall are framed lithographs, mezzotints and other artworks. Another is completely packed with unframed artworks created since she came to Musquodoboit Harbour almost forty years ago.
In one corner of the room is a large collection of tiles for mosaics. Another corner is filled with a collector’s dream of seashells, feathers, and other objects, which often show up in a print or series of prints. Also in the room are tables filled with expensive oil-based pencils (she has 75 shades of green), works in progress, a filing cabinet, copper plates, books of photographs of her works, and a tall etching press.
Kath started painting at a young age, as did her mother, who still paints. Kath remembers painting a Mars landscape on the laundry room wall. Kath studied art at Mount Allison in Sackville, New Brunswick, where she “did tons of life drawings.”
She had two teachers who were influential in her artistic development. David Silverberg, a printmaker, was a good and hard-working teacher who showed her that artists had to work seriously to make a living. In 1983 at the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, she studied with Ed Porter, from whom she learned to make mezzotints and intaglio. Porter was an encouraging professor who provided one-on-one support.
I asked Kath about her choice of subject matter. Her collections of butterflies, crabs, and shells show her love of nature; motifs of musical instruments show her love of music, and her titles, plays on words and proverbs and weather sayings, show her love of language
Kath Rutherford is now preparing for a group show that opens on May 6 at the Visual Voice Fine Art Gallery in Truro. She is also creating a proposal for a mosaic project and she shows me drawings relating to that project, and then picks up an amazing dragonfly she created from a Q-tip.
You can find Kath’s mosaics at four schools, including Oyster Pond Academy and Musquodoboit Rural High. Four galleries in Halifax exhibit her work, and she has shown in other maritime galleries as well. She will be teaching mezzotint engraving at Sunbury Shores in New Brunswick later this summer.
There are many related threads that Kath knits together in a beautiful play of colours and images. Kath work weaves together her many artistic interests in a superb knit and ‘pearl”: treasures which we can all enjoy. You can find Kath Rutherford’s studio at 544 West Petpeswick Road in Musquodoboit Harbour. Her website is www.originalprintsns.com.