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Arts community feeling the loss of jewellery artist Sandra Goss

Goss and her husband, Andrew owned Goss Design Studio on Clarke Street East

While she only lived for a short time in Guelph, jewellery artist Sandra Goss made her mark within the community. 

Co-owner of Goss Design Studio on Clarke Street East, with her husband, Andrew Goss, their work has been sold and featured in galleries across Canada, the United States and Europe for over 40 years. When not working on jewellery, Sandra also explored other creative outlets, including sculpting and printmaking. 

“She was a really creative person,” said Andrew. “She took some of her etchings for her jewellery and made them into prints."

Despite becoming a jewellery artist, Andrew said Sandra didn’t grow up in a creative household. Born in 1946 to parents John and Nell Noble, Andrew explains Sandra’s father was interested in politics and that began a lifelong interest for her. 

“I think he was a union guy when he was younger, and I think they talked about politics a lot around the dinner table, and think that's why she went into political science (at York University),” said Andrew.

Within her own family, her son Owen said she would have similar conversations around their table. 

“Conversations at dinner were often about, 'How was school today? What did you do?' and also what's going on in the news, especially around elections and things, there was a lot of interest and a lot of involvement in local candidates that she supported," said Owen.

"Occasionally, the conversation would drift into topics like ancient civilizations and she would bring out atlases and encyclopedias and plunk them down in between the dishes for us to look at and learn about together," said Alex Goss, also Sandra's son. 

While she has a passion for politics, Sandra would remain an artist throughout her life. She took classes at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and art classes while at York University. Her and Andrew also took a night course in Toronto, which led them both to enrol in the jewellery arts program at George Brown College in 1970.

“We both really liked doing it, we both had been fooling around making copper wire jewellery before that,” said Andrew. “We were kind of in the 'Back to the Ground' movement, so it seemed like a way of becoming self-sufficient in your career and being creative, but we wanted to do it properly, so we went back to school for three years."

Sandra first met Andrew in 1967 at the Montreal Expo. Both cared about politics, art, design, and architecture. Two years later, the couple got married and would remain married for 52 years.

After graduating from George Brown, the couple moved into an abandoned cottage between Fergus and Arthur, converting it into a studio. They began to sell jewellery right away. Andrew said he taught for a couple of years to help supplement their income.

A couple years later, they sold the studio and moved to a farm near Owen Sound and then in Owen Sound. From there, their work was featured in the Makers Gallery, the Art Town Studio Tour, the Tom Thomson Art Gallery and Summerfolk's craft area. Sandra also became a teacher and mentor at Georgian College's Jewellery and Metals program and Haliburton School of the Arts.

She also worked on political campaigns, like the New Democratic Party.

Andrew explains the natural beauty, cheap land and supportive arts community kept him and Sandra in Owen Sound for a majority of their lives. They built a solar home together which they raised two sons in. 

"We spent a lot of time doing art activities and children," Owen said about his childhood. "There was a sort of side board in the dining room in our house, which would normally be filled with dishes or pots, but was always full with craft supplies."

As renovating abandoned houses became a common thread within their lives, Andrew and Sandra bought and renovated a cottage on Big Bay in 1985. The cottage became an important part of Sandra’s life and many family vacations were held there. 

Just like her art, relationships were also an important part of Sandra’s life. In 2016, the couple decided to move to Guelph to be closer to their sons and their four grandkids. 

“She was amazing with her grandkids,” said Owen about Sandra as a grandmother. “She would have huge rolls of paper out on the table, and markers and crayons and stuff, and they would be all sitting out on the table together, making art."

"She was a very compassionate and caring person. She always had energy for her friends, family and grandchildren," said Alex.

Shortly after moving to Guelph, Sandra was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos. During her six year battle with mesothelioma, Sandra remained creative in another medium: writing. 

Prior to the pandemic, Andrew said Sandra helped form a writing group who would meet once a month. The group consisted of about 8 members, and when the pandemic hit, they switched to writing monthly postcards to each other. Last fall, Sandra, Andrew and another friend, Rose, raised $4,000 for the Canadian Mesothelioma Foundation (CMF) by selling short stories on the back of postcards.

“It was really fun to do, but it was exhausting,” said Andrew, who mentions each had to come up with 25 to 30 unique short stories over the course of several weeks.

Sandra passed away on Feb. 19, 2022, at the age of 75 at Hospice Wellington. 

Being as extroverted as she was creative, Owen said Sandra had many friends who reached out to their family before and after her passing. 

"It was really quite amazing to see that, as a child, you often don't get to see your own parents in that way, but she was important to so many people throughout her life," said Owen.