Sculptor Ruth Abernethy

Ruth Abernethy grew up on a farm near Lindsay (ON) in an inventive and musical family. Working backstage at the Kawartha Summer Theatre lead to further technical training at Malaspina University in Nanaimo, British Columbia, (1978).

At the age of 20, Ruth was hired as Head of Props at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, MB and later at the Stratford Festival (ON), she refined her method of 3D mapping to sculpt large figures. Unveiling of her first bronzes outside the Festival Theatre brought the invitation to sculpt renowned pianist Glenn Gould, which began a definitive career change.

The National Portrait Gallery acquired Ruth’s portrait bust of Al Waxman (2005) and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II unveiled Ruth’s portrait of Oscar Peterson at the National Arts Centre (2010). She was the first Canadian artist selected to exhibit with Sculpture-by-the-Sea in Sydney, Australia (2004). For this she was awarded a bursary from the Canadian Consulate in Sydney and invited for a return to the Casuarina Sculpture Walk, in north Queensland Australia (2006). Ruth was the first Canadian juried into Sculpture in Context, Dublin, Ireland (2007) and the only Canadian artist short-listed for the Beijing Olympic Sculpture Contest (2008).

Sculptor Ruth Abernethy In addition to bronze portraits, Ruth’s studio works combine textiles, hand-made lace and stainless steel. Ruth began her Canadiana Collection in 2005, to expand the narratives on gender roles, heritage crafts and notions of nation-building. Pieces from this collection were selected for The Canadiana State Collection (Ottawa, ON), exhibited with Crossing Borders (Lockport, NY, 2005), and acquired by the Royal Ontario Museum (5 pieces, Toronto, ON, 2009).

Ruth is author of Life and Bronze, A Sculptor’s Journal (2016). She was presented with an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University (2018), and inducted into the Waterloo Region Museum Hall of Fame (2019). She’s currently authoring In Form, Life & Legacies in Bronze, and in November 2023 she will be inducted as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society, Ottawa. Ruth continues to seek opportunities for constructive dialogue, and to present her observations of our evolving culture through the art of sculpture.