November 19 – Toronto
When I was in grade school back in the middle of the last century once a year we would take a class trip around the world. Or at least the world as represented in the collection of odds and sods at the Royal Ontario Museum. We would board a yellow school bus under the watchful eye of Miss Radke or Mrs Sinclair and go all the way to downtown Toronto. It was a day of visits to China, Egypt, Europe, and our idea of Jurassic Park.
The last time I was at the ROM would have been for the opening of a major Chinese exhibition back in the summer of 1974. The main attraction was the jade funeral suit of the Lady Tou dating from the 2nd century BC. I recall it being a heavy slog as we listened to Chinese speeches by their Ambassador translated into French and English, English speeches by the Museum director translated into Chinese and French, and French speeches by the Acting Governor General translated into Chinese and English. It left little time to view the highly propagandistic exhibition including it’s main attraction.
However the Chinese artifacts at the ROM has always been one of its main attractions — with or without jade suits. It is still a remarkable collection and much has been done to enhance viewing beyond the “things in glass cases” I recall as a young visitor. Most impressive was the Tomb of General Zu Dashou – a mid-17th century burial monument to a major figure in the history of the Ming Dynasty. I seemed to recall it being in a garden to one side of the museum and viewable as you walked along Bloor Street. It is now the first display seen as you enter the Asian Galleries off the central entrance. I preferred it outdoors but the elements and Toronto pollution were taking their toll.
The tomb of an important official would always include their funeral procession in miniature. I loved the one horseback rider who has been distracted by someone or something in the crowd.
There is a small collection of Japanese art in the Asian named in honour of Prince Takamado who died in 2002 while playing squash at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. He had studied law in Canada and had many close friends here.
I was particularly taken with a series of block prints by Naoka Matsubara, a Japanese artists who now lives in Canada. She is part of the Creative Print Movement where the artist takes responsibility for the entire printmaking process.
Here are two of her 200 works that are in the ROM collection:
Well dear diary I guess you are probably wondering what all this has to do with Lisboa? Our flight didn’t leave until 2255 and we had a whole day to spend in Toronto so what better way than a bit of museum hoping. Which is what we did, followed by a late lunch, a late check-out, and a lengthy wait at Pearson Airport prior to boarding.
I wish I could end with entry with a “thence to bed” however I can never sleep on a flight so no doubt the night will be spend flipping through two year old 2nd rate movies and frantically looking at my watch every ten minutes. Did I ever mention that I am scared of flying. Time for a pill!
On this day 1869: Dumbarton, Scotland, the clipper Cutty Sark is launched and is one of the last clippers ever built, and the only one still surviving today.