Images (Top to bottom): LANDSCAPE PLATE (1979), Harlan House, Private Collection; DRAGON TEAPOT (c. 1995), Diane Nasr O’Young, Private Collection; PLATE (1992), Kayo O’Young, Private Collection.

Evocative: The Art of Porcelain
March 30 to June 22, 2019
Guest Curated by Jonathan Smith

When we speak of porcelain, one of the last images to come to mind is that of landscape.  Especially after years of the hand crafted pot, reminiscent of Bernard Leach, one is more likely to think brown and round. But for centuries, the ceramic world was populated with objects bearing bright images of recognizable decoration that added beauty and meaning to what would otherwise be ordinary, everyday chattel.  From the time of the Group of Seven, who wished to instigate a truly Canadian art, it should come as no surprise that Canadian ceramic artists would incorporate the theme of landscape – from rolling geological features to patterns of water, from wind driven rain and waves – as an inspiration for their work. 

Harlan House, Diane Nasr O’Young, and Kayo O’Young each have a different take on their muse that incorporates where they live, but also personal autobiographical details that drive their visions.  Harlan House, born in Vancouver but raised in Calgary, lives in an 1840‘s old stage coach inn on hard rock farmland north of Picton, Ontario.  His garden and his world travels often meet in his sometimes gentle, sometimes politically pointed work.  Diane Nasr O’Young  and Kayo O’Young live on two acres of land snuggled up against the eastern branch of the Humber River, north of Kleinburg, Ontario.  Nasr, born and raised in Trinidad, creates work that is inspired by the lush and fantastical flora and fauna of her childhood.  O’Young carries with him memories of the classic sumi ink drawings of his native China with their veils of colour tinged with the dense woodlands that once surrounded his Ontario house and inspired the work of Tom Thomson. 

This exhibition brings together three different visions, each one personalized, but each rooted in the places, past and present, that inspire them.

The Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery is pleased to partner with the Art Gallery of Burlington for this exhibition.









Magdolene Dykstra’s Seated Figure (2015), at first suggests a day at the beach, one hundred years ago. This figure is clothed in what appears to be a bathing costume and cap, with only her feet, hands and face exposed. The suggestion of times past, a day at the seaside when life was simpler and time spent in innocent pastimes were the norm, is the first thought that comes to mind. However, the look on the sculpture’s face, the sidelong glance, is telling. One can have an opinion on the interpretation but while the image suggests several scenarios, there is no clear conclusion.

The first glance at the work evokes a nostalgic feeling and a warmth that is seductive – it feels comfortable. Perhaps that is all that is wanted and/or needed. But a longer look questions the element of nostalgia, for nostalgia is a longing for past time or condition that cannot be recovered or perhaps never existed. While evocation and nostalgia are similar, they both are a reminder of the past, and of the two, evocation is the more powerful, as it leads to a more potent understanding of the connection between things and ideas.

Image: Seated Figure (2015), Magdolene Dykstra. Photo courtesy the Art Gallery of Burlington.