Gardiner Museum of ceramics

Monday, April 23, 2007

I finished my week of culture by visiting the Gardiner Museum on Saturday — Canada’s only museum dedicated to ceramics, from early Mesoamerican through the invention of porcelain in early Chinese dynasties to contemporary ceramics. I’ve visited the Gardiner before, but not since the major renovation that added a third floor, considerably more exhibit space and a Jamie Kennedy restaurant. This is also the first time that I’ve done a guided tour with a docent: Saturday’s visit was compliments of my professional engineering society, and we received the grand tour.

It’s not possible to have a guided tour of the entire collection in 1-1/2 hours any more, but we did see some selections from the early Chinese and Japanese porcelain works, as well as German porcelain, Italian Renaissance ceramics and English pottery, before finishing up with Mayan pottery.

We also had a chance at the end to duck into the special exhibit, “On The Table: 100 Years of Functional Ceramics in Canada”, which closed the following day. It included some amazing older stuff such as the now-defunct Blue Mountain Pottery (whose mother doesn’t have a piece of this kitsch around somewhere?) and a few pieces by Emily Carr (who I always think of as a painter rather than a potter), plus many modern pieces. Teapots, plates, bowls, decorative pieces, and one incredible ashtray from the 60’s shaped like a curling stone. I had the pleasure of seeing works by four ceramic artists whose work I also own, including Bill Reddick and Scott Barnim.

It was around 2 when we finished, and the wonderful smells from the Jamie Kennedy restaurant on the third floor drew us upwards, but unfortunately they were closing early for a private engagement and we didn’t have the chance to try them out. The restaurant is very airy and full of light, with a great view across University Avenue to the ROM — given my experiences at his restaurant down on Church Street, I’ll definitely be back.

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