Monthly Archive: December Heat
One of my favorite things to think about when studying craft objects is the way in which they can teach us about the place where they were made, in both sociocultural and environmental aspects. Most often craft objects are examined from the sociocultural perspective, but the environmental perspective is important. Crafts are objects made in places, with natural resources. The story of some craft objects can teach us a great deal about the natural world and how human beings use the products of the natural world.
Mahone Bay is a beautiful town just south of Halifax, on the eastern shore of Nova Scotia. I stopped there on a holiday with my family this summer, and was charmed by the sheltered harbour, the tall trees, and the lovely shops. It was a perfect place to stretch our legs and eat some ice cream. When we were there, I noticed that we drove by Amos Pewter, and smiled at the memory of a Christmas ornament made of pewter that I once received as a gift from a dear friend.
The Canadian Decorative Arts section of the Royal Ontario Museum has a reasonable doll collection, featuring both folk and commercially made dolls. Primarily the dolls represent the backgrounds of Anglophone and Francophone early Canadian settlers, like this handmade dancing doll from Quebec, and this knitted doll from Ontario. Both dolls date from the late 1800s/early 1900s. I should clarify that when I talk about the Canadian collection, I am discussing the collections devoted to immigrants and settlers. There are several dolls in the First Nations collection.
It can be pretty common in rural parts of Canada to find a pottery studio. Lots of Ontario cottagers have favorite potters that they visit in their cottage community. Many of the Gulf Islands in BC have at least one resident potter. Quebec has a hugely successful pottery show that draws in artists from across the province, 1001 Pots, which highlights the rural potter’s lifestyle. It is so common that it’s hard to believe that there were, at one time, pioneers of that way of life.
My second object from Newfoundland and Labrador is a contemporary piece by silversmith Michael Massie. It is a teapot, mimicking the shape of an ulu knife, with etched designs on the silver body of the pot. The handle is made of bloodwood. Massie is a contemporary Canadian artist who was born in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, in 1962. He currently lives on the island portion of the province with his family.
I’m starting my Canada 150 blogging project in Newfoundland and Labrador. Why? To start, it is the province that lies geographically furthest east, and moving east to west is an easy organizational structure. More deeply, Newfoundland and Labrador was one of the last provinces to join Confederation with Canada in 1949. The vote was contentious and the margin of victory was slim. It’s less likely now, but it once would have been possible to find older residents of the island who considered themselves Newfoundlanders first, Canadians second (if Canadian at all).
Hi! I'm Heather Read, the Rebanks Postdoctoral Fellow in Canadian Decorative Arts. In honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, I’ll be writing a blog series this year highlighting interesting objects from the Canadian Decorative Arts Collection at the Royal Ontario Museum. With this series, I’ll be talking about some of the furniture, pottery, and glass that are currently on exhibition at the ROM, but I’ll also give you a peek behind the scenes into the parts of this collection that aren’t currently on display.