Canadian artist supports Ugandan paper bead makers

Beverley Smith

Vereinigte Staaten
Beverley Smith

She has been a professional artist since graduating from a design college (Sheridan College’s School of Design, Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and weaving college in Stockholm Sweden in the early 70’s.

She moved from Toronto to the country 2 hours from the city in 1980. Beverley’s studio is in her home, a beautiful timber frame structure in the Beaver Valley. She has become well known not only for her textile art but also for her murals; maps; whimsical illustrations of the area but also for her bead business called “Holy Crow Beads”.

She operated Holy Crow Beads as a bead shop and gave classes for twelve years until closing her doors to the public in 2014. Her shop was featured in A Beader’s Stash: Designs from America’s Favourite bead Shops, Interweave Press. Holy Crow appears as one of 3 finest bead shops in Canada.

She has also won many awards for her beaded art work and jewellery at home and abroad. Beverley had two of her beaded jewellery pieces accepted in a juried jewellery competition at the Bead Museum in Washington D.C.

In 2008 she was approached by Toni and Rick Andrews, who had just returned from northern Uganda, to design jewellery using the paper beads they had brought back with them. The Andrews were involved with the Italian Aid organization AVSI in Uganda. Beverley did designs and invited her customers to help produce this unique jewellery which was then sold through private gatherings.

In 2010 with the success of the sales AVSI invited Beverley to Uganda (Gulu) to teach the group of 34 paper bead makers the skills they would need to create this jewellery themselves.

2017 will be her sixth trip to Uganda with supplies and new designs and techniques. It turns out that Uganda has very few supplies and that Gulu is quite an isolated city to market their work and so consequently their work has continued to be sold outside Africa. But with the help of AVSI each of the members of the Lacan Kwite group have at least one child in a good school and they all have access to medical facilities. Bicycles have been provided so they can transport their children to the school.

In 2013 Beverley worked with 200 women in the slums of Kampala teaching them beading techniques. AVSI sells their craft work in Italy and this provided the women with funds so they could build a good primary and high school. Beverley has been teaching off-loom beading in the at department of the high school in 2016 and 2017.

In 2014 Beverley was invited to conduct similar workshops for artisans in Yangon Myanmar.

So, these days she divides her time between her beloved studio where she is either planning workshops for her various volunteer workshops or just enjoying experimenting with new designs.