hot, bitter, sweet at the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art (111 Queen's Park) to February 3, 2002. 416-586-8080. Rating: NNN
caffeine culture gets a jolt atthe Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art. Hot, Bitter, Sweet draws on the Gardiner's permanent collection of vessels associated with preparing and drinking chocolate, coffee and tea.
Most of the items on view are European -- the usual assortment of bone china and porcelain from Meissen, Minton, Sèvres, Delft, etc, plus rarer pieces like the coloured ware from Vauxhall -- but there are some examples that are truly exceptional.
Like the 700-800 A.D. Mexican or Guatemalan palace-scene drinking vessel for chocolate; "cobbleware" created by independent artists by putting decorative overglazes on plain glazed pieces from Jingdezhen, China; and one tiny Jingdezhen teapot that its 17th-century Dutch owner clearly treasured, since a custom-made Delft lid replaces the original missing top.
It's a lovely little show, but the sparse text assumes that viewers already know a certain amount about the subject, and concentrates on finer details of connoisseurship.