Clay Culture: Toronto City Guide

Toronto, Canada, and its surrounding areas provide a great ceramic-lovers’ travel destination. While you’re visiting, you can see both local and international work in galleries and museums, visit potters guilds, and get to know some of the 2000 ceramic artists living in the region.

1 Exterior of the Gardiner Museum, sculpture by Jun Kaneko in the foreground. Photo: Rachel Weiner.

2 Figure of dancer with pastillaje headdress, 23 in. (58 cm) in height, earthenware, red on cream slip, asphalt paint, Mexico, Veracruz, on view at the Gardiner Museum. Gift of George and Helen Gardiner.

Top Ceramic Attractions

1 The Gardiner Museum (www.gardinermuseum.on.ca),
111 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C7.
Canada’s premiere ceramics museum, housing both historic Asian, European, and pre-Columbian work as well as a strong and rotating collection of contemporary works. Also home to the Gardiner Museum Shop (www.gardinermuseum.on.ca/shop).

2 The Royal Ontario Museum (www.rom.on.ca),
100 Queens Park, Toronto, ON M5S 2C6. Visitors should check out their phenomenal collection of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese ceramics.

3 Art Gallery of Burlington, (http://artgalleryofburlington.com),
1333 Lakeshore Rd., Burlington, ON L7S 1A9. This gallery in Burlington has the largest collection of contemporary Canadian ceramics on view.

4 Carnegie Gallery (www.carnegiegallery.org) in Dundas:
10 King St. W, Dundas, ON L9H 1T7, Canada
a commercial venue and modest, yet impressive, gallery of local and regional ceramic artists.

5 The Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery (www.theclayandglass.ca),
25 Caroline St. N, Waterloo, ON N2L 2Y5. This is a stunning and spacious gallery that showcases top tier Canadian talent, and boasts a wide selection of work made by Canadian glass and ceramic craftspeople in its shop.

6 The Aga Khan Museum (www.agakhanmuseum.org), 77 Wynford Dr., Toronto, ON M3C 1K1. Toronto’s newest cultural institution opened in 2014. It houses His Highness the Aga Khan’s collection of Islamic art from around the world. Notably the Bellerive Room contains the ceramics collection of His Highness’ late uncle Prince Sadruddin’s Geneva home, reconstructed—it’s breathtaking, with treasures spanning nearly a millennia.

Commercial Galleries

7 David Kaye Gallery (http://davidkayegallery.com)
1092 Queen St. W, Toronto, ON M6J 1H9. Craft Ontario Shop (www.craftontario.com), 1106 Queen St. W., Toronto, ON M6J 1H9. Both galleries are conveniently located in Toronto’s hipster arts neighborhood, Queen Street West.

8 Clay Design Studio (www.claydesign.ca), 170 Brunswick Ave., Toronto, ON M5S 2M5.

9 MADE Design (madedesign.goodsie.com), 70 Geary Ave., Toronto, ON M6H 2B5.

10 Centre Shop at Harbourfront Centre (www.harbourfrontcentre.com/shop), 235 Queens Quay W., Toronto, ON M5J 2GB.

11 Sandra Ainsley Gallery
(
http://sandraainsleygallery.com), 100 Sunrise Ave., North York, ON M4A 1B3.

12 Petroff Gallery (www.petroffgallery.com), 1016 Eglinton Ave. W, Toronto, ON M6C 2C5.

13 Ardith One (www.ardithone.com), 3311 Yonge St., Toronto, ON M4N 2L9. Yonge Street is famously the world’s longest street.

14 Dish Gallery (http://dishgalleryandstudio.com),
15 Case Goods Lane #112, Toronto, ON M5A 3C4. This little shop is in the heart of the funky East End Distillery District.

3 David Kaye Gallery front. On view in window (left to right): Donna Boyko’s painting, Léopold L. Foulem’s ceramics.

4 Jordi Alfaro’s Alenink, Cloud Maker, Aggregate, Stele, Skookum, Companion, Clenched Tooth, to 4 ft. 5 in. (1.4 m) in height, ceramic, wood base, 2017, installed at David Kaye Gallery.

Guilds and Potters’ Collectives

  • The Toronto area has 12 potters guilds with memberships close to 1000. Including non-guild potters, the aggregate number of amateur and professional ceramic artists is approximately 2000.
  • Generally, each guild hosts both fall and spring sales as well as annual or biannual juried member exhibitions, and monthly membership meetings with guest speakers and/or workshops.
  • Hamilton Potters Guild is the largest collective with over 350 members. Their annual members’ sales (held the first weekend in November and May) showcase more than 10,000 pots made by over 100 potters. (www.hamiltonpotters.ca/hamilton/sales).

Post-secondary Ceramics Programs

15 Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) University (www.ocadu.ca), 100 McCaul St., Toronto, ON M5T 1W1. Sadly a few years ago their BFA in ceramics fell victim to the encroachment of the digital age, but they still offer courses in ceramics.

16 Sheridan College (www.sheridancollege.ca), 1430 Trafalgar Rd., Oakville, ON L6H 2L1. Offers a BFA and the best grounding in all things ceramics in the region.

5 Christopher Reid Flock’s Integration/Disintegration Cup Saucies, wheel-thrown stoneware, vitrified, acrylic paint, 2016. Photo: Robert McNair.

6 Exterior of the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery.

Reid Ferguson’s Jacob Street, 10 in. (26 cm) in diameter, glass, enamel, cast concrete, 2016, on view at Craft Ontario.

8 “Teaching Materials” exhibition at Craft Ontario, Marc Egan’s Emergence, stoneware, glaze, 2017. Photo: Craft Ontario.

Organizational Resources

17 Craft Ontario (www.craftontario.com) is a not-for-profit service organization working to have craft recognized as a valuable part of life.

18 Fusion (www.clayandglass.on.ca) is the Ontario clay and glass association, and they facilitate biannual touring member exhibitions; annual demo-based spring conferences; day-long workshops; career development scholarships and more.

Special Initiatives/Events/Exhibitions

There are a plethora of events and festivals for the ceramic lover in the Toronto area—but two to highlight as travel destinations:

  • The inaugural Canadian Craft Biennial “Can Craft? Craft Can!” took place this past fall and was produced by The Art Gallery of Burlington (see #3 on map), in collaboration with Craft Ontario. The event included a national master craft exhibition, an emerging craft maker exhibition, as well as a two-day conference, international keynote, workshop/demos, and a residency. The next event will take place in the spring of 2020.

19 Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (www.torontooutdoorart.org), 100 Queen St. W, Toronto, ON M5G 1P5. Held on the grounds of Toronto’s City Hall, this event is a travel destination unto itself. It falls on the weekend after Canada Day (July 1).

9 Exterior of Harbourfront Centre. Photo: Brian Medina.

10 Former Harbourfront Centre resident artist Marissa Y. Alexander’s black-and-white vessels, 10 in. (25 cm) in height, porcelain, underglaze, glaze, fired to cone 6, 2016. Photo: Brian Medina.

11 Harbourfront Centre resident artist Habiba El-Sayed’s what’s it worth? 16 in. (41 cm) in height, stoneware, glazes, fired to cone 6 in oxidation, gold luster, 2017. Photo: Brian Medina.

Clay Suppliers

There are two main clay suppliers in the region. They are full service and each one makes and installs their own brand of electric kilns as well:

20 Pottery Supply House (www.psh.ca), 1120 Speers Rd., Oakville, ON L6L 2X5.

21 Tuckers Pottery Supplies (www.tuckerspottery.com), 15 West Pearce St., Richmond Hill, ON L4B 1H6.

the author Heidi McKenzie is an artist, author, and curator living in Toronto, Canada. Learn more at http://heidimckenzie.ca.

12 Harbourfront Centre resident artist Cheng-Ou Yu’s On the Edge, 7 in. (18 cm) in height, slip-cast porcelain, glaze, fired to cone 10, 2015. Photo: Brian Medina.

13 Craft & Design Studio at Harbourfront Centre–Ceramics. Photo: Brian Medina.

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