‘A lesson in joy’ is the title of chapter 27 describing ‘Balustrade relief vase’ (2000) by Betty Woodman, but it could be easily the name of the whole book. ‘30 Objects. 30 Insights. Gardiner Museum’ edited by Rachel Gotlieb and Karine Tsoumis is one long lesson in joy, only in 30 acts. Each chapter equals one object, one story and one insight written by another specialist. It’s a great way to slow down and enjoy each artefact properly. The Gardiner Museum’s collection is impressive, not only because it encompasses long history of the medium but also due to the fact that it gathers objects from all over the world. I guess it must have been very difficult to select only 30 of them for the purpose of this unique publication. 

‘The book focuses upon 30 outstanding objects that reflect the temporal and geographical breadth of the Museum’s collection, as well as the universality of the medium it celebrates.’ Leading specialists (critics, dealers, scholars, curators, collectors and artists) have been invited to write about works coming from manufactories like Sevres, or Meissen or the ones created by artists like Marc Chagall (surprised?) or Greg Payce. I like the idea of many voices, because each specialist brings the perspective of their profession, which makes the stories even more interesting. It might seem easy but it’s quite a task to write about ceramics, whether it’s historic or contemporary.

The Gardiner Museum is Canada’s national ceramics museum and has of the world’s best ceramic art collections. Its mission is to pass on the passion for ceramics of the Museum’s Founders – George and Helen Gardiner and to bring people together through clay, one of the oldest art forms. In addition to permanent collection, they organize special exhibitions, many events like lectures and even clay classes. This sophisticated book is an original tribute not only to the Museum and its collection but also to the medium and all creators. Richly illustrated and beautifully designed (honestly, the layout is outstanding). It’s a joy to read! 



30 Objects. 30 Insights. Gardiner Museum, Black Dog Publishing