This year on my way to getting my Art Ed. degree… For ARTH370 – Independent Research


The primary inquiry was based on the observation of less sculptural ceramics on physical display in many of Montreal’s formal art galleries and noticing a greater representation of vessels in the shape of a bowl. The initial question asked if the bowl was the most popular shape-expression of ceramics in Montreal today, and through my research I had hoped to discover why. What I found was that the art shown in formal galleries are not representative of the local ceramics market, rather it was through a much larger and privately owned-run network of studio shops and studio schools with their on-line sites that promoted local ceramics. I also found stronger representations of functional ceramics, such as bowls, plates, and mugs, over sculptural forms. The main reasons I gathered were equally pragmatic and economic, and potentially culturally based. An assumption was be made that more expensive sculptural ceramics sold better in wealthier markets with more discretionary funds, however an in-depth conclusion of why required longer research into the different perception of art versus crafts. The research consistently opened new avenues of inquiry and diminished many conclusions. It revealed a diversity of expressions of ceramic arts and clearer definitions between arts and crafts, as well as an argument against distinguishing comparable values between them.

Formal Description & Interpretation

On La Guild 1906 website and was in store-front display when visited on May 23rd, 2019. 
Photo by Mario MJ Perron
Art Work: “First Light, 2017”: Paula Murray: Porcelain 18cm x 41cm x 41cm 
Photo by Elena Lee

Upon approaching this piece in the display case, this is what I experienced. My photo showed the perspective I first saw from. The odd angle gave the bowl a feeling of being carved from a pale hardwood, with a much thicker base and a thinning of the walls to the outer rims. It appeared to be smooth with a matte finish. The display lighting reflected off the inside of the bowl, pulled the inside walls inward, and gave the impression of it having a thicker base. The darkness of the bottom, as seen in the picture, gave the bowl added thickness and an opacity abnormal in most porcelains and glazed bodies. All these first impressions contributed to a feeling that it was made of wood, instead of porcelain. The colours varied subtly between white, a powdery blue, and powdery pink. The lighting of the display casted shadows across the bowl that also played with the feeling of weight. I saw carved crests within and on the outside of the bowl, that appeared to be propelling the bowl in a clockwise direction, as if it was trying to twist itself off its own base. These carved details showed subtle signs of the carving tool and added to the feeling that this was a turned-wood bowl. The bowl itself was nearly, perfectly circular, giving me the sense it was turned and trimmed by a very steady hand. I saw small bumps and dips in the outer rim. I imagined what they felt like and it allowed me to imagine feeling the artists hands upon the bowl. The ridges weren’t at equal distances from each other, and spacing between them was about the width of my thumb. There were no visible carvings about 8 to 10 centimetres up from the base. I saw that the walls were about 2 to 3 millimetres thick. I read the actual dimensions on the notes (18 x 41 x 41 cm), before I could guess at them and compared them to the size of my hand. It normally would have looked very light in weight to me, but two things were giving it a denser feeling: the display lighting and my knowledge of the amazing solidity of porcelain.  

I snuck a quick touching of the bowl and as I expected it was cool to the touch. It was hard for me to know for sure if there was an actual difference in temperature on the inside and outside, as I imagined it would have had, because of the light source upon it. It was very smooth, both between and on the carved ridges. It felt like unglazed porcelain: powdery, not smooth like glass. I wasn’t really allowed to do more when I visited, so I didn’t smell or taste it.

There were too many people around to quiet my mind and listen to the bowl. I wanted to do this, because, in my experience, porcelain vibrates in reaction to the noice of the room and sometimes I imaged it singing in its own voice. I gave it a gentle tap with my fingernail and it rang clear as I expected it would, with a clear twang that revealed a perfect and un-cracked surface. 

In my mind, I imagined it smelled similar to halloween rockets (sugar candies), because of the colour. My imagination also wanted it to taste like these same candies, but I know that porcelains tend to have either an earthy taste or something slightly metallic. 

I was fascinated by how this piece gave off a pink light and wondered if it was due to the display lighting. I hadn’t think of putting my hand between the light source and the piece to see what might have changed. The pink may also have been due to some minerals in this particular clay body and/or the glaze composition, but that was conjecture. 

Note1: A purely experiential description based on my senses has been challenging, as being a ceramic artists myself, I find myself feeling ceramics with all my senses at one, but expressing what I sense in technical terms. I’ve endeavoured here to start with sensual description and to separate my intellectual connections from them, at least initially.

Note2: When I visited the piece, I chose not to make a life drawing of this piece as part of my description process, because it would simply not have added pleasurably to my experience. I have always drawn from imagination and not from direct observation; to do so would only have added a level of frustration that would have marred my written description. I took several photos as reminders for myself when I was ready to sit and describe the piece. The photo I chose came closest to the feelings of the experience for me. 

Description of Research

The research initiated with visits to the Musée des Beaux Arts’ decorative arts exhibit and La Guild 1906 where I observed more bowls than any other form of ceramic expression. I spoke to one of the employees at the MBAM store about books on the ceramics in the museum and he told me he was unaware of any books about the museum’s collection other than the decorative arts catalogue. I have yet been able to reach the curator. At La Guild, I didn’t have time to ask the guide for more information. During this visit, I recalled seeing only two ceramic bowls on display, but no sculptures. I did recall seeing much more ceramics in the older location, before the renovation. I wondered if this lack of ceramic representation was city wide. The first step of my research was in building a list of museums, galleries, retail outlets, and schools where ceramics may be found, determine if the bowl was a more popular expression in the Montreal market, and why. 

Other than at MBAM, most of the museums keep any ceramics they have in the archives, and appointments can be made to go and see them. I only listed a few of the galleries  I visited on-line, with an intention to visit the more popular ones on St-Paul street in Old Montreal. What I initially found was that ceramics are profoundly under represented in the main galleries. I sent out emails to some of them, but did not get replies. I did a quick research of major retailers, to see if they had any locally made ceramics in their housewares or decor departments, but found little to add to my research. There are many more independent boutiques in the Greater Montreal area that sell gift items and decorative items, but I needed to consider time in reaching out to them. The schools revealed contradictory information. For example, The Visual Arts Center in Westmount, offers both turning and hand building courses. There are more focused on turning pots and bowls, but their annual student shows exhibit more sculptural ceramics. I studied there many years ago and I know that some of the work in the show comes from the teachers as well. At Centre De Ceramique Bonsecours, one can get a comprehensive training in ceramics and their student shows reveal a wider range of exploration, however, on-line they demonstrate a push towards functional ceramics. Perhaps, because they also teach some art marketing, they want to guide their students to what will give them the most financial success in the current marketplace.

Of the studio-schools I initially found, there is also a greater focus on functional ceramics. Again, the possibility of this being a more marketable form arises. At this point, I decided to send out emails to artists and some studio owners with a general inquiry about what is the most popular expression of ceramics (see sample letter in Annex II). At the time of writing this report, I have yet to receive any answers. With my discovery that there seemed to be a much stronger network of artists doing work outside any formal gallery/museum structure for exposure of their works, I decided to dig deeper into social media with a series of keyword searches for local ceramic artists (see Annex II for keywords searched). This opened my research much wider than the original focus of my initial question. Now, I had a choice to work from assumptions of my findings, or look further into socio-economic, linguistic, geographic, and generational factors that influenced the promotion and availability of ceramics in Montreal. With each new search came more things to consider. For example, when searching for “Montreal Ceramics” or “Montreal Pottery”, in English or French, we find only a few local clay artists, but when searching “Montreal Art” or Montreal Artist”, we get more results on ceramicists. So, local artists are either uncertain how to label themselves, or are SEO aware enough to know what hashtags work best to promote their work. Either way, it continues to both draw me away from my original question and bring me closer to understanding it. 

Following the emailed inquiry, I decided to post the same question to a broader audience throughout my social media networks. For example, on LinkedIn, where I have over 10,000 connections (approximately 65% related to the arts), the question got likes, but no local responses. When I posted it on a more the more intimate network, Alignable, I got the response  that most people didn’t understand what I meant by form of expression. I changed it to shape, and people started giving me answers related to styles and “isms”. I finally, guided the question with examples *eg. bowls, plates, figures, etc…) and the answers I got drove me to wonder if people see functional ceramics as art at all. At the time of writing this, I’m still getting several answers a day too these on-line inquiries, and they are strengthening this distinction between art and craft in the public view. Given time, I might have continued this path away from my original question to see where it takes me. At this point, the question might become something along the lines: Does the public see art in crafts? 

Note: You can find my research notes in Annex II. 

At this point, a little historical research was needed for me to refocus on what I started this. Starting with some of the older potter’s guilds I knew about. The West-Island (mainly Anglo-Montreal) has had many smaller pottery guilds, all following teachings of Bernard Leach, all originally having a rich diversity of methods from turning and hand-building to developing their own signature glazes to distinguish themselves from other guilds. Most of them closed during the 1970s to slowly reopen as community programs many years later, only now with much smaller spaces and a distinctly hobbyist mindset. For example, Claycrafters has been trying to reinvent itself since its founding over forty years ago, only to stay true to the reality that it can only accommodate hobbyists in its current space. The slow dissolution of the West-Island Artists Association and the annual art fairs it puts on, is contributing to this challenge for Claycrafters as well. The greatest example was The Dorval Potter’s Guild, once a school for ceramic crafts, is now a small room with five wheels for turning and a non-profit board of directors who seem determined not to respond to the growing interest in pottery in the West-Island. This failing has allowed other guilds and studio-schools to open. See more listed in Annex II.

On the French side, I know very little, but I really don’t understand why that is. There’s a disappointing lack of easily accessible information (on-line) on the history of the most important Métiers D’Art schools on the Francophone side, according to what we learned in our class lectures this session. The initial search gave me only a basic Wikipedia page:École_du_meuble_de_Montréal. It’s the same for the original L’École des Beaux Arts:École_des_beaux-arts_de_Montréal. There is a nice site for the new Montreal School of Fine Arts:, where classes can be taken in many disciplines, including sculpture, but nothing specific for ceramics. Furthermore, there’s a frustratingly dismal page for Céramique de Beauce, that if you look hard enough can lead you to some local events, but gives very little history. Thanks to some links shared in class from a wonderful Canadian blog, Studio Ceramics Canada, I was able to learn more about some important ceramists in French Canada.


The peak of interest for ceramics may have been at the beginnings of formal training here in Montreal, with Pierre-Aimé Normandeau and his original ceramics program at L’École des Beaux Arts (c.1929-c.1959), when he implemented a course based on the European schools of the time, and that seems to be the basis of explorations for many independent ceramicists today. Jules Bazin offers a clear definition of the course in Normandin’s short Bio on the ceramics blog, Studio Ceramics Canada (Morrison, unknown date):

“The ceramic course … lasting two years, gave the student a technical and as comprehensive training as possible. It was completed by practical work on clay and enamels, on composition and modelling, so that [they] could set up a workshop, develop clay recipes after studying raw materials and adapt glazes to be able to work in in small or large production series. From the beginning, the section had been responsible for re- searching the Quebec clays in order to be able to use those which were specific to ceramics.”

My experience at the Visual Arts Centre and from recent communication with various public studio or guild schools, have shown that this original openness to exploration has become less feasible due to the cost and availability of resources (kiln, chemicals, teachers, technicians, etc). The focus in these bigger schools is towards satisfying the curiosity of the hobbyist, over perfecting craftsmanship. Some of the formal programs, like Concordia’s BFA in Ceramics, and Centre de Céramique Bonsecours give a more comprehensive study of ceramics as a trade and art. Sadly, schools such as John Abbott College, where Claycrafters, one of the oldest potters guild’s started, now only offers an overview of the craft of ceramics as part of a general arts degree. At Cegep du Vieux Montréal, the final home for the ceramics programs started at L’École des Beaux Arts, now has no dedicated classes for ceramics, and has folded only a brief study of the media into a sculpture course. Despite all this, the original mindset of exploration still has some practitioners in Montreal through the privately or collectively owned independent studios. Even though some of these studios function under the same restrictions, they have found ways to encourage exploration and market development to fund such explorations.

Catherine Auriol, owner operator of the co-op, Gaïa Atelier Boutique mirrors this ideology in her vision statement (Auriol, 2019): 

En mauvais état aussi, la situation des artisans des métiers d’art au début du nouveau millénaire, le manque de point de ventes, les salons de création en déclin, des frais et des conditions d’exposition de plus en plus élevés devant les potentiels revenus; puis, la plateforme internet et les applications technologiques achèvent de reléguer les produits d’artisans au niveau de curiosité ou de luxe. La céramique faite main peine à prouver son inaltérable efficacité, écologique, spirituelle et utilitaire, et de ce fait, reste une activité marginale devant l’industrialisation bon marché.

In her classes, often taught by local ceramicists, the students are challenged to master the basics and then explore form and finish, always with an eye on what forms might sell best. I’ve heard her say on several occasions that she isn’t promoting imitation, rather she’s encouraging creative innovation geared to a known audience. Like many teachers I’ve known, she will guide her students to other teachers when they have shown the need to go past what this studio can feasibly teach. For some the move is to a shared studio where more advanced ceramicists form a new collective, and share skills and techniques, or to a more one-to-one mentoring in the studio of an advanced ceramist teaching individual students. This was my experience when I left the Visual Arts Centre and joined Les Atelier Marie-Côté. Marie shared all she could about glaze chemistry and the versatility of porcelains, then let me run with my ideas. My independent work then became part of the lessons she gave her students, because she could show my process to them. This method of learning skill levels incrementally throughout an informal network of artists brings us back to the apprenticeship structures of the past. In a recent visit to Les Forges de Montréal, we learned that they very much teach in mentor to apprentice style and give room to the improving apprentice to sell their work. According to them, this is a trend in the crafts we are seeing more of in Montreal, and it’s very encouraging. 

Marketing ones wares can still be done in the traditional way of seeking artist agents, presenting portfolios to galleries, and doing local and major art fairs, most of which have judged entries. For example, you might visit 1001 Pots in Val-David and ask how one can become an exhibitor. The answer given might be on their website, but the reality is this over thirty year old art fair seldom welcomes in new artists and the judges have traditionally been previous exhibitors fearful of the competition. At the end of the day, whatever choice the artist makes, the research and work must be done by them. The marketing of ceramics has become individualized in part to the ease of creating personal websites and the ubiquity of social media as a self-promotion tool. This is allowing the individual craftsman and commercial studio to promote their products with equal ease and without the need of the Gallery or Museum circuit. All the artist needs is to understand that the art business is equally art and business. This seems to be becoming easier in the collaborative mindsets of the collective and private studio-schools. 

Keeping with 1001 Pots as an example of popular forms, almost everything exhibited there is functional. There are variations in clay bodies used, still commonly sourced from local clays, and there are always conservative explorations of glazes or firing methods: electric, gas, or Raku), but very few experimenters going past the forms easily seen from our traditional Beauceware styles. Marketability dictates the form of expression at these popular events. The expense of going to a Salon des Métier D’Arts has some innovative artists left in the dark, and internationally awarded artists, Montreal based like Eva Lapka are not even seen at La Guilde 1906 anymore. At first glance, it appears that ceramics have little place in Montreal. The only conclusion I have been able to make is that functional ceramics, including pots, mugs, jugs, plates, and bowls may be the most marketable shapes of ceramics. The reasons appear to be economic and pragmatic. These things cost less and have the added value of being useful as well as beautiful to the buyer.

All this is getting me very far from my original question and that is exactly what happened while doing my research. The more I found on ceramics in Montreal, the less I could focus on what the most popular shape of expression was. As of the time I’m writing this, I have yet to receive conclusive answers from the artists and gallery owners I emailed my inquiries to. All the feedback is from personal contacts through social media or gathered from the websites I started my research with. With each new link I find, another series of resources become available to research and often lead me away further from my original question. Furthermore, I have not been able to tie in any importance of the artist I chose as an example of study, Paula Murray, either in what her influences were, not why she was chosen to be in the display at Le Guilde 1906 at this point in time. That could have been a focus of my question instead.

This search started broadly and got even broader. In retrospect, I now see that I could have started my research on Pierre-Aimé Normandin, where his work and/or influence for ceramics can still be seen in the visible market of Montreal, the major galleries and museums and then tied that to the style used by Paula Murray and the choices being made by Le Guilde 1906 in their selection process. However, I know this would have been a guided vision of the historical timeline that potentially excludes important outliers who may have had and still have impacts on this medium. The final conclusion is that there is a wider market for ceramics in Montreal than I originally though and I could without any obvious fact to support my assumption state that the bowl is indeed a very popular expression of ceramics, but not necessarily the most popular. I have also been unable to conclude to my own satisfaction why this is what I’ve observed. Maybe it is only a matter of economics and pragmatism. My bias against this assumption is my desire to believe hand-made functional ceramics are as much art and paintings. Perhaps I need to accept that not all art is created equal, despite the comparable skill levels to create it.

Art: “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” Google Dictionary (2019)


In our lecture on June 11th, 2019, we covered more details on the transition from Modernity to Post-Modernity with illustrative examples on the history of ceramics in Quebec. This exploration revealed to me further details on L’Institut des Arts and the gradual local disconnection with formal training on ceramics as a trade. It also revealed a potential influence for my assumptions that ceramics had become an unpopular art form in Montreal. During the years I was starting to develop my voice in ceramic sculpture (ie between 1969 to 1989: Lesson 11 PowerPoint, Andrus, 2019), the practice of teaching this form had virtually disappeared and the interest from galleries would have diminished as well. Furthermore, during the question period with Leopold Foulem, he replied to a question that had been in my mind, but which I was fiercely fearing the answer, because I didn’t understand its implications. When asked to clarify his position on whether or not craft is art, he answered: 

“Craft cannot be art, because it’s the real thing. Art is always a simulacrum, an abstraction of the real thing.” Foulem, 2019.

My mind stopped for a moment, as my excuses for not having commercial success as a ceramic artists became more real, then I started to understand his statement better as he went on to explain that craft must stand on its own. It isn’t and shouldn’t be a question of which is better or more valuable. This opened a whole new area for me to consider on my original question. From my understanding, Foulem was using the rich traditions of his chosen craft as a medium through which to express his art. The new vision he gave me was about how to see and experience craft; not from the technical perspective of craftsmanship, but from the aesthetic experience of the artistic perspective. 

What this lecture demonstrated to me more clearly was that my original question was too large for the scope and time I considered for this paper. Using the approach of starting wide and focusing in on a single point did occur, however I found myself wanting to focus on a diverse multitude of fascinating focal points. The question of what the most popular shape or form of ceramics in Montreal could be better discovered by starting with a single work of art, relating the choices made by the artist in making it, uncovering the choices the gallery made in promoting it, and potentially continuing outward to discover the opinions of the public viewing the piece. However, this might only reveal more of the marketability of the artwork, instead of the history behind the piece. This may be the initial flaw in my original inquiry. 

In conclusion, I express my gratitude for a growing fascination and realization that the more I discover, the less I know about the expressions of ceramic crafts in Montreal. Partly because of my own passionate history with the ceramics, my inquiry could never realistically been focused on a single form, shape, or style; it would have always diverted in many lines of inquiry. I have not only found that the bowl isn’t conclusively the most popular form of ceramics being produced in Montreal, but that the formal outlets for finding ceramics don’t represent the most popular ceramic expressions. It is possible to assume that there may be as many expressions of contemporary ceramics as their are artist-craftspeople making them. With the democratization of promotional outlets such as social media and private blogs, all artists have the possibility to show their work and the public has nearly unrestricted access to them. I must now let go of the question of popularity and as Foulem so beautifully expressed, follow my own voice. Any and all future researches, will be started with a single piece of work and discovering the history that lead to its creation. Annex I

Bibliography & Resources


i) La Guild 1906:

ii) Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal:

iii) Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec:

iv) Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal:

v) McCord Museum:

vi) Pointe-À-Callière:

vii) Redpath Museum (ethnology collection):

viii) Musée Stewart:

ix) Canadian Centre for Architecture:

x) Centre D’Histoire de Montreal:,97305573&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL

xi) Stewart Hall Museum:


i) Station 16 Gallery:

ii) Galerie Hugues Charbonneau:

iii) Centre De Ceramique Bonsecours:

iv) Galerie D’Art Le Bourget:

v) Montreal Art Centre:

vi) Articule:

viii) Shayne Galleries:

ix) Galerie MX:

x) Bloom Galerie D’Art:

xi) Galerie Dominique Bouffard:

xii) Projet Pangée:

xiii) Galerie Bellemare Lambert:

xv) Galerie Laroche Joncas:

xvi) Visual Voice Gallery:

xvii) Galerie B-312:

xviii) Saidye Bronfman Center for the Arts / SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art:

xix) Centre VOX:

xx) Ellephant:

xxi) Galerie De Bellefeuille:

Schools and Studio-schools:

i) Centre De Ceramique Bonsecours:

ii) Visual Arts Centre:

iii) Griffintown Art School:

iv) Gaïa atelier boutique (2019):

v) Atelier Make:

vi) The Dorval Potter’s Guild:

vii) The Lachine Pottery Guild:

viii) Baie d’Urfe Potters Guild:

ix) Concordia University – BFA Ceramics:

x) Atelier Studio Spirale Montreal:

xi) Studio de céramique Alexandra Montréal:

xii) Claycrafters: New website under construction.

xiii) John Abbott College – Visual Arts: 

Fairs & trade Shows:

i) Salon Des Métier D’Arts Du Québec:

ii) 1001 Pots Val David:

iii) Weekend of Crafts & Fine Art in the Dollard Civic Centre:


i) ceramik b. By basma osama:

ii) Les Touilleurs / Boutique 1101:

iii) Parceline (owner-ceramist Celine Fafard):

iv) Atelier Marie Côté: 


i) Barry Morrison, “Pierre-Aimé Normandeau (1906-1965)” , Studio Ceramics Canada (unknown date): 

ii) Chapados, Louise, “Céramique au Québec louise Chapados thesis (2003)”:éramique%20au%20Québec%20louise%20chapados%20thesis.pdf 

iii) Alfoldy PhD., Sandra (1997), Studio crafts in Canada- A Thesis: 

iv) Barry Morrison, “Gaétan Beaudin 1924 – 2002”, Studio Ceramics Canada (unknown date):

v) Barry Morrison, “Jean Cartier (1924-1996)”, Studio Ceramics Canada (unknown date):

vi) Barry Morrison, “Maurice Savoie 1930-2013”, Studio Ceramics Canada (unknown date):


i) Bruno Latour, We have never been modern (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993)

ii) Albert Jacquemart, Histoire de la céramique (Paris: Librarie hachette et Cie, 1873):é+ceramique&source=bl&ots=TUFZH8fsRE&sig=ACfU3U0qVg2U7WI6PSpGrN1y3G5Lsu_yQQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwj-6fixsdPiAhVBx1kKHWUBBiMQ6AEwDnoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=Daniel%20Gagné%20ceramique&f=false

iii) Myzelev, Alla (2017), exhibiting craft and design:


i) CMAQ:

ii) Ceramique de Beauce:

iii) The New Renaissance Mindset:

iv) Arts MPerron:

v) Fadis:

vi) Studio Ceramics Canada:

vii) Eva Lapka Bio: 

Annex II

Research Notes

1) Museum Visits (online and/or in person) to record what percentage of ceramic art pieces on display are in the form of bowls. Take note of date of visit and if there is a special exhibit on. If possible, ask a guide or curator what inspired the choices on display. Report factual and anecdotal results.  

1.1) La Guilde 1906:  

Of the ceramic works on display or for sale, the majority are in the form of a bowl. There are more ceramic sculptures listed at the on-line collection. I’ve chosen an artwork here that fascinates me by Paula Murray. 

1.2) Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal:  

On our visit to the decorative arts, most of the modern and contemporary ceramics on display were functional ceramics in the form of either plates or bowls. There are more sculptural pieces in the displays of older civilizations. Eg. Pre-columbian, African, and Polynesian. The curation of European and Asian ceramics is more focused on functional pottery.  

1.3) Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec

All I found here related to bowls was a very basic bowl making class that uses the pinch pot technique. There are a few images of ceramic works, but no bowls on line. 

1.4) Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal

There are no specific ceramics listed on their site, but some exhibits from multi-media artists have included ceramic sculpture. 

1.5) McCord Museum:  

According to the site, they have about 2600 pieces of ceramics in their archives and are currently digitizing them all to be on a future version of the on-line catalogue. I would have to arrange many visits to the archives to study them. 

1.6) Pointe-À-Callière:  

There have been archeological exhibitions on ceramics from around the world and their digitized archives have beautiful pictures. However, this may not be the best place to find current trends. 

1.7) Redpath Museum (ethnology collection):  

No ceramics visible on line. I want to make request to see collections, but don’t have time for this research paper. The focus here is historical, not on the current trends. Regardless, it would be an excellent place for historical research and would require a visit and help from the librarians. 

1.8) Musée Stewart:  

No ceramics on line, so I didn’t visit, but they have some historical references to ceramics as artifacts. It could offer a different perspective on early influences to current Quebec styles. 

1.9) Canadian Centre for Architecture

No ceramics on line, so I didn’t visit, but it could be more background to contextualize how design influences art and vice-versa. 

1.10) Centre D’Histoire de Montreal

No ceramics on line, so I didn’t visit, however, there could be valuable information related the second half to my question regarding cultural & historical influences on the arts in Montreal. Would be worth a visit for a more in-depth research. 

Notes: There are many more museums across the Greater Montreal area that have anthropological, socio-cultural, and historical collections that could add depth to my research on the different progressions between the French and English communities. Especially the smaller ones in different regions (eg: Stewart Hall Museum). 

2) Gallery Visits (online and/or in person) to record what percentage of ceramic art pieces on display are in the form of bowls. Take note of date of visit and if there is a special exhibit on. If possible, ask personnel what inspired the choices on display. Report factual and anecdotal results. For the purpose of brevity, I focused a keyword search for galleries listed as showing ceramics, however there are many mislabeled galleries that show all forms of art and may not identify it as ceramics. I only briefly looked over those with on-line galleries, and if time permitted, I would want to visit all the galleries in the Greater Montreal Area, at least to ask the larger question of what is the demand on ceramic arts, and possibly more specifically bowls? 

2.1) Station 16 Gallery:  

There’s currently very little ceramics on exhibit, so I didn’t visit. The main artist was featured in one of our lectures: Marie-Claude Marquis. She transforms reclaimed and vintage ceramics and her most popular form seems to be her plates. It’s unclear if this is for any other reason that the phenomenon that hanging art sells much better in Montreal. 

2.2) Galerie Hugues Charbonneau

I’ve highlighted the link to the only ceramic artist they have listed, Karen Tam. I’ve been familiar with some of Karen’s work for a few years now and would venture to ask her a direct question. This gallery only shows her turned and manipulated vases with what appears to be Majolica glazes. 

2.3) Centre De Céramique Bonsecours:  

On-line, this gallery shows almost no bowls. They highlight more vases and jugs, as well as structural and abstract sculptures. I know this is partly to promote the perception of higher learning that they offer in their connected school and certifications. When you link to their classes, you see a more turning oriented focus.

2.4) Galerie D’Art Le Bourget: 

On-line they have only one ceramic artist and she makes porcelain pigs. The focus appears to be on wall art, so I decided not to dig further here is respect to time limitations. 

2.5) Farfelu Montreal: No website

This is a cooperative and used to have several of the teachers from the Visual Arts Centre selling work there. I haven’t been in a while, but I recall they sold lots of coffee cups and serving bowls and platters. A new visit would be required. 

2.6) Montreal Art Centre

No artists are listed on the website, but there is a revolving door of artists in this centre. If time permits I will need to visit and talk to artists on hand.

2.7) Articule: 

They’ve had a few ceramic artists in the past and seem open to different media, but there’s been nothing ceramics oriented in over a year. 

2.8) Shayne Galleries

This gallery used to have a vast cross section of artists and many local ceramists I was familiar with. They are now down to only 5 ceramic artists. All are doing fantastic sculptures, but no bowls. The closest are Richard Surrette’s Raku vessels. When you look at his profile, it shows that he has many works in private and corporate collections around Montreal. This has always been a mainly Anglo-oriented gallery and it’s clientele is global (on-line). Could this be why there’s more sculpture? 

2.9) Galerie MX: 

They have a few sculptural ceramics, but no bowls. Need to email an inquiry about this choice.

2.10) Bloom Galerie D’Art

They have a few sculptural ceramics, but no bowls. Need to email an inquiry about this choice.

2.11) Galerie Dominique Bouffard: 

No ceramics listed on-line. Need to email an inquiry about this choice.

2.12) Projet Pangée: 

Fascinating collaborations and group shows for multi-media, but little or no ceramics. Need to email an inquiry about this choice.

2.13) Galerie Bellemare Lambert

No ceramics listed on-line. Need to email an inquiry about this choice.

2.14) Galerie Laroche Joncas

No ceramics listed on-line. Need to email an inquiry about this choice.

2.15) Visual Voice Gallery:  

No ceramics listed on-line. Need to email an inquiry about this choice.

2.16) Galerie B-312

No ceramics listed on-line. Need to email an inquiry about this choice.

2.17) Saidye Bronfman Center for the Arts / SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art

This gallery has exhibited the works of its students and teachers for over 40 years. It catered mainly to the Anglo community. Over 10 years ago it stopped with all visual arts and focused entirely on dramatic arts. I need to make an appointment to see the archives of the older exhibits. 

2.18) Centre VOX

Not sure what to make of this place. There’s a very long list of artists biographies and archives full of exhibits, but it doesn’t focus on what I’m researching here.

2.19) Ellephant

Very interesting collections and exhibits, but no focus on ceramics here. Need to email an inquiry about this choice.

2.20) Galerie De Bellefeuille

No ceramics listed on-line. He has some sculptors, mainly bronze casters. Need to email an inquiry about this choice.

Note: At this point, my keyword search is giving no ceramics focused galleries. I changed tact to looking for “pottery in Montreal”. At this point I discovered that a new kind of outlet for ceramics is popping up around Montreal. The Studio/School/Boutique. I’ll include them in the schools section. 

3) Retailer Visits (online and/or in person) to record what percentage of ceramic art pieces on display are in the form of bowls. Take note of date of visit and if there is a special exhibit on. If possible, ask personnel what inspired the choices on display. Report factual and anecdotal results. 

Note: Due to time constraints, I’ve chosen to put this on hold for future exploration.A quick on-line search of big box stores (eg. The Hudson Bay) could reveal what commercial-factory  ceramics are being sold, and getting detailed statistics of those locally sourced could add statistics to my research, but is away from the focus on studio ceramics. 

4) School Visits (online and/or in person) to record what ceramic classes are being offered. Take note of class descriptions mentioning turning, bowls, or pottery. Contact the school and/or teachers to ask what percentage of the course focuses on bowls and why. Report factual and anecdotal results. Note: Due to a lack of time, I have not recently visited these in person, but have had experience with some in the past and have researched most of them years ago when starting to do ceramics myself. 

4.1) Centre De Céramique Bonsecours

They offer very in-depth classes on all techniques of ceramics. Any biases of form or style may reside with individual teachers. It would be worth having a discussion with they Dean about my question. 

4.2) Visual Arts Centre: 

Originally founded by ceramicist Virginia Maclure, the school has expanded to accommodate other media and diminished its focus on ceramics. It still teaches turning and hand building, at the beginning level. There is a push towards bowls for the relative simplicity of making them and to accommodate the limited resources (space, technicians, glazes, clay bodies, and kilns) they have. 

4.3) Griffintown Art School: 

This is a new school, partnering with the Montreal Art Centre. They currently only have one turning class listed. 

4.4) Gaïa atelier boutique

This is a school and store that focuses on turned clay. The few images on the site show a focus on bowls. This special school has a coop mentality of sorts. The owner, Catherine Auriol offers this as a reason for her vision: 

En mauvais état aussi, la situation des artisans des métiers d’art au début du nouveau millénaire, le manque de point de ventes, les salons de création en déclin, des frais et des conditions d’exposition de plus en plus élevés devant les potentiels revenus; puis, la plateforme internet et les applications technologiques achèvent de reléguer les produits d’artisans au niveau de curiosité ou de luxe. La céramique faite main peine à prouver son inaltérable efficacité, écologique, spirituelle et utilitaire, et de ce fait, reste une activité marginale devant l’industrialisation bon marché.

4.5) Atelier Make

Although very nice stuff, the focus seems to be on functional pots, plates, and bowls. They also seem to have only turning classes. No hand building or other ceramic techniques. 

4.6) The Dorval Potter’s Guild

This studio school has a long history and about 15 years ago was moved to a much smaller space in the community centre. They have very little space and encourage students to focus on small projects. They teach to make small bowls, mugs, goblets. It’s a good place to start learning, but hard to progress at. 

4.7) The Lachine Pottery Guild

Focuses on teaching kids, but has a fund-raising show for all work: mainly bowls and mugs.

4.8) Claycrafters: Website being redone. 

Another studio school with a long history. They teach beginners and insist on several courses be successfully completed, before allowing free expression of form and finish. Mostly turning of bowls, mugs, and pots. They traditionally do an annual show with the West-Island Artist Association. 

4.9) Baie d’Urfe Potters Guild

They are a community group and cover a variety of techniques and styles. Students tend to be adult learners who stay on for a long time. Focus is on functional pottery. 

4.10) Concordia University – BFA Ceramics

I won’t have time to reach all the teachers, but I’d like to reach out to the Chair of the department and get their take on my question. 

4.11) Atelier Studio Spirale Montreal

This studio school is run by a potter and he has a strong focus on bowls. 

4.12) Studio de céramique Alexandra Montréal:  

This is a combined shared studio space and artist run private classes. All the courses are turning. I had visited this studio many years ago when one of the owners, Veronica Horlik made mostly functional pottery. 

Note: At this point, I found a few more listings of pottery studio/schools, but the websites were faulty or no information was available. There are some private class studios around the city in places like the RCA building in St-Henri, but they would probably be listed under the artists who run them. 

5) Extra visits over a year: Trade Shows (Les Salons…) Visits to record what percentage of ceramic art pieces on display are in the form of bowls. Talk to the artists, show promotors, and some of the visitors. Report factual and anecdotal results. Here are a few I’ve been to.

5.1) Salon Des Métier D’Arts Du Québec

This is the biggest showcasing of local crafts professionals. I know from personal experience, it is an expensive investment for most ceramics artists, especially potters who traditionally sell items at lower prices. Some studios have shown there as collectives. I haven’t been in a few years, but intend to go this year, if possible. (see  

5.2) 1001 Pots Val David

This possible the best place to experience and purchase some of the best potters in the region. The title come the fact that it focuses on turned pottery and functional ceramics, but you can see there some amazing clay sculptors and glaze innovators. It is a wonderful place to learn about ceramics, as you can talk to the artists about their work and find that many offer very enticing classes on their creations. I intend to visit this year to see what’s new. (see

5.3) Weekend of Crafts & Fine Art in the Dollard Civic Centre:  

This shows students of the Dollard community arts centre, as well as some local hobbyists. Sadly, it ends up being perceived as sort of garage sale for the crafts. So, professional artists often stay away. 

Note: many of the schools have annual shows for their graduates. These tend to be posted on their individual websites. 

6) Post general survey question across social media and professional networks to collect statistically response to the following question: “What is your favourite form of ceramic art?”

Notes: The homogeneity of my cultivated networks may result in a biased response. This could be more effective, if I could do a longterm survey through all the Montreal art groups (on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc).

I quickly received several emails (mainly on my Allignable network) and it was clear that the question was misunderstood. The majority of the answers of finishes or styles, not shapes. 

I modified the question to What is your favourite shape of ceramic art?. The responses were more on point, but no clearer. The most common answer was a love of “unusual shapes” or “no preference, but I like “x” kind of glazing”. 

I was hoping not to guide the answers with too much description following the question, but it seems needed. 

I posted a new question across my networks, this time giving examples: eg. bowls, cups, plates, figurative or abstract sculptures. The question is: “When considering buying ceramic art, what shape attracts you the most? eg. bowls, cups, plates, figurative or abstract sculptures.”

7) Email, call, or interview Montreal ceramic artists to ask what they sell the most and their perception of why

Notes:The list has been taken from CMAQ. I used their tool to focus in on ceramicists. I emailed: Luis Argmedes, Lucie Arseno, Olga Artemova, Christine Audet, Catherine Auriol, Gilles Belley, Aline Bertin, Nancy Blais, Frédérique Bonmatin, and David Booth. 

Sample of the email sent

Subject Line: Enquête sur votre travail pour un projet de recherche de l’Université Concordia / Inquiry about your work for a Concordia University research project


Puis-je faire appel à votre expertise pour répondre à la question suivante: Le bol est-il la forme d’art céramique le plus populaire à Montréal aujourd’hui et si oui, comment aurait-il pu l’être?

Je suis actuellement inscrit à un cours avec le Dr Bruno Andrus à l’Université Concordia (ARTH 370 – Artisanat au Québec). J’ai reçu votre courriel du site Web du MBAQ, le Dr Andrus m’a envoyé pour répondre à mes questions. Nous effectuons un travail de recherche sur un sujet qui correspond à une passion personnelle, la mienne est la céramique.

Après des visites à La Guild 1906 & MBAM, j’ai remarqué que la prédilection des bols était beaucoup plus forte que toute autre forme d’expression céramique.

Dans mes recherches préliminaires dans les galeries d’art et les magasins d’art de Montréal, j’ai trouvé peu de preuves pour confirmer, ni contredire la prédominance des bols comme expression d’expression de la céramique la plus populaire.

Toute perspective que vous vous sentez à l’aise de partager est grandement appréciée.


May I please call on your expertise in answering the following question: Is the bowl the most popular form of ceramic art in Montreal today and if yes, how might it have become so?

I am currently enrolled in a class with Dr. Bruno Andrus at Concordia University (ARTH 370 – Crafts in Quebec). I got your email from the MBAQ website, Dr. Andrus sent me to help with my inquiries. We are doing a research paper with a subject that is aligned with a personal passion, mine is ceramics. 

Following visits to La Guild 1906 & MBAM, I noticed there was a much stronger presence of bowls than any other shape/form of ceramic expression. 

In my preliminary search through Montreal art galleries and art stores, I have found little evidence to confirm, nor contradict the prevalence of bowls as the most popular form of ceramic expression.

Any perspectives you feel comfortable sharing is greatly appreciated. 

8) Email, call, or interview Montreal gallery owners to ask what sells the best in their shops and their perception of why.

9) Internet keyword search on social media sites often frequented by artists: Ello, Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, etc.

Notes: Keywords used: “montreal artists”, “montreal ceramicists”, “montreal ceramics”, “montreal pottery”, “montrealartist”, “Artistes de Montréal”, “céramistes de Montréal”, “céramique de Montréal”, “poterie de Montréal, “artiste de Montréal”, “montrealart”, etc… 

Given the time, I would also make a search for as many derivatives of these as I could think up. 

Following the submission of the detailed outline, I started some searches for these keywords, focusing on Instagram and LinkedIn (LinkedIn is currently my largest networks with over 10,000 connections, about 65% arts related). What came back was that almost all these connections use the keyword “art”, but much fewer use “ceramics” or “pottery” to identify their work. This phenomenon is more prevalent when I did a search on my WordPress blog network. The upside result is that I discovered and connected with several dozen new ceramics artists. The downside, if we can call it that is finding a wider variety of form expressions than I thought were available in  Montreal. The vast majority of ceramic artists in Montreal, work from and promote their works from private studios or collective studios through on-line sites and shops. There seems to be very little representation in the formal gallery circuit here. I could use this observation for a more focused research that includes interviewing gallery owners with a question about why they choose to not expose and promote ceramics. Or I could venture into a much longer and wider research of local studios and get a sense of the full market for Montreal ceramics that lives in the studios. 

A few more studios came to my attention with this search. Many only Etsy shops, but no physical stores, and a few are actually not in Montreal at all, although hashtaged as such. 

9.1) ceramik b. By basma osama

They focus on functional pottery and tableware. They show many types of bowls on their site and they have a menu option dedicated bowls. There’s no clear indication on the site if her pieces are individually turned or slip-cast. So, I emailed her. 

9.2) Les Touilleurs / Boutique 1101

Their mission statement states a desire to highlight the value of local artisans and a return to a local tradition for housewares and kitchenwares. They have a dedicated section for bowls. It isn’t clear who the artists are. They have recently changed ownership and it seems unclear as yet if they will continue with local artisans or expand the commercially sourced products. 

9.3) Parceline (owner-ceramist Celine Fafard)

Her focus is on two models of bowls: one she seems to recommend as a goblet, the other as a planter. All seem to be decorated by hand. Again, it isn’t indicated if they are turned or slip-cast. I couldn’t email her for more details, as she’s on maternity leave and indicates that she isn’t responding. 

Note: found list of ceramists on Fadis:

There were 720 artists listed with a connection to ceramics. 

Again, time is a limiting factor for me to look at all these images and do a proper cataloguing of form, style, and timeline. 

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