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Hot Art: Pottery from Across the Pond

This mid-19th-century stoneware charger is among the many examples of British pottery now on display at the Gardiner Museum

MAY 31 TO SEPTEMBER 16 England is on many a mind this year, what with Queen Elizabeth II’s recent diamond jubilee celebrations and the forthcoming summer games in London. Clearly
it’s a good time to consider Britain’s myriad contributions to Western culture. One such touchstone, a centuries-old ceramics industry, is currently showcased at the Gardiner Museum; its Rule Britannia exhibition looks at the 400-year evolution of the United Kingdom’s world-famous pottery and porcelain, and how its products—from decorative chargers to commemorative plates and teacups—have informed tastes across the Commonwealth.

Quirky and Cute: Coombs, British Columbia

Tucked away on Vancouver Island, north of Nanaimo off the Island Highway is Coombs, a place that’s become known for its signature rooftop of grazing goats. Under that roof is The Old Country Market, a quirky grocery store that offers a huge selection of breads and sweets made in their bakery, a cheese shop and imported foods that run the gamut from English licorice to bacon-flavoured mayonnaise a.k.a. Baconnaise.

Before you head to the Market to shop, have lunch at Cuckoo in Coombs Trattoria & Pizzeria. The Italian restaurant offers pasta and wood-stove pizza in a large space with wooden tables and rustic tablecloths (which you can buy next door in Zolena). If the weather is nice, sit out back on the patio under the plum trees. Just outside the restaurant is the greenery area with large pots and Chinese statues, shrubbery and small cacti. Nestled in amongst the plants is Zolena, a shop with wool blankets from New Zealand, Chinese silk bags and bangles from India. (more…)

Hot Art: Gardiner’s Medium Mash-Up

Brendan Tang's Manga Ormolu 4.0-b

OCTOBER 7 TO JANUARY 31 The Gardiner Museum continues to pursue its mission of demonstrating that plates and teacups are no longer the ceramic arts’ sole concern. Its current exhibition, Breaking Boundaries, does just that by presenting a variety of sculptural pieces that adapt an age-old art form to contemporary circumstances and perceptions. Featuring works by four young Canadian ceramicists—Shary Boyle, Marc Courtemanche, Carmela Laganse, and Brendan Tang, whose hybrid vessels combine conventional porcelain with Japanese comic-book imagery—the display pushes the limits of the medium itself, as well as the viewer’s imagination.