Ceramics in Victorian Paintings and Literature:
If the teacup could speak it would tell some wondrous tales!
Tuesday October 15th, 2019. 7:00pm
Toronto Reference Library, Beeton Auditorium
789 Yonge Street, Toronto

Ellen L Clacy, "Marigold's: The China Closet, Knole", c. 1880

In her richly illustrated lecture, Dr. Rachel Gotlieb presents new ways of looking at and reading ceramic objects in Victorian paintings and literature. Crisscrossing the categories of narrative, genre, social realism, Pre-Raphaelite and Aestheticism, she explores how artists incorporated pottery and porcelain in their work to reveal how they charged them with symbolic meaning. The method by which artists represented ceramics dictated a particular grammar and language: tableware centred around a family meal, especially tea time, blue transferware housed in a dresser or women serving ceramic platters filled with food. These compositions comprised the visual rhetoric of ceramic representations that both artists and writers employed, personalized and critiqued. Moreover, specific objects such as the humble tea-cup, distinguished by colour, size, shape and placement both in relation to the body and within the idealistically or realistically rendered room often expressed attributes related to gender, taste, and morality. Examining the visual representational rhetoric of ceramics in paintings, particularly in the context of the popular press and literature by Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot and Anthony Trollope shows that they were infused and coded with deep metaphorical meanings. This veiled symbolism was typically understood by different stratifications of Victorian society.

Dr. Gotlieb is Adjunct Curator at the Gardiner Museum. She was previously the Gardiner’s Chief Curator and Interim Executive Director. She teaches design history at Sheridan College, Faculty of Bachelor of Craft and Design. In 2017 she was the Theodore Randall International Chair in Art and Design at Alfred University in New York and a Research Fellow at Winterthur Museum and Library in Delaware. Gotlieb is currently writing a book titled “Ceramics in the Era Victorian: Meanings and Metaphors”.

Getting there: Yonge/Bloor subway station


UK Symposium: Morris & Co. Interiors
Wednesday November 6th, 2019 
6 Queen Square, Holborn, London, UK
Art Workers' Guild

The Morris & Co. interior is an instantly recognizable aesthetic, devised to bring art into the everyday, and give joy to both maker and user.
This symposium on Wednesday 6 November 2019 at the Art Workers' Guild in London will explore the different types of Morris & Co. interiors; private and public commissions, ranging from decorative schemes designed by the Firm to interiors created by customers, and the artist homes of William Morris and his close associates.

Domestic interiors are designed to be lived in and changes are inevitable. Tracing their development, especially when transition from private use to a publicly accessible space takes place, raises the question of authenticity. What then defines a Morris & Co. interior and what relevance do they hold in the 21st century?


Guild Park and Gardens: Past, Present, and Future
Thursday November 21st, 2019. 7:00pm
University College, University of Toronto, Room 140
15 King's College Circle, Toronto
(Queen's Park Subway station)

John Mason will present an illustrated lecture on the history and future of Guild Park and Gardens (formerly known as Guildwood Park) including the inspiration its founders drew from the Arts and Crafts movement and their own passion for natural and architectural heritage preservation. 

Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, Rosa and Spencer Clark in 1932 decided to model their recently purchased property into the Canadian equivalent of Roycroft. They duly founded the “Guild of All Arts” on the Scarborough bluffs, providing a home and a forum for artists and artisans. Many of these were contemporaries or students of members of the Group and Seven whose influence is evident in the work produced on the site. Over ensuing decades, the Clarks built a reputation as patrons of the arts and preservationists, amassing a huge art collection and preserving architectural fragments from dozens of demolished buildings in Toronto.


We're finalizing plans for some more exciting events for 2019. Keep coming back to check for details and/or follow us on Instagram,  Twitter and Facebook!

Reminder: WMSC members have priority booking for trips and other events that require registration and have limited numbers. Join us today!