This new direction in collecting was fostered by the present decorative arts collection, as collecting contemporary work was considered a natural decision given the already specialized collection of these media from historical periods.
Studio metal is as yet a very small component of the WAG’s holding. The Gallery does, however, hold wonderful works by Lois Etherington Betteridge and Anne Barros. Studio glass has greater representation with work by nationally recognized artists Daniel Crichton, Jeina Morosoff, and Sue Rankin. The greatest representation in this aspect of the collection is held by a leading Manitoba glass artist, Ione Thorkelsson. Largely self taught, Thorkelsson works in relative isolation from other glass artists in the small rural community of Roseisle. The Gallery’s holdings survey her career from early functional wares (c. 1973-78) to signature pieces (late 1970s) which treat the vessel’s glass body as a field for colourful abstract compositions, and finally to the body of work she has spent the last two decades concentrating on—sculptural, non-functional pieces incorporating cast animal parts attached to blown vessels—which have been widely exhibited and continue to be the thrust of her investigations today.
Studio ceramics is the undeniable strength of the collection, numbering some 235 objects. Concentrating on Canadian artists, it also contains work by American, Danish, Japanese, and Norwegian artists. Originally conceived as a collection of utilitarian objects to complement the functional nature of the decorative arts collection, the holdings have significantly expanded over the past decade towards more conceptual, sculptural investigations. Key Canadian artists in the collection include Robert Archambeau, Walter Dexter, Kayo O’Young, Steven Heinemann, Robin Hopper, Grace Nickel, Katherine Koop, Wayne Ngan, Léopold Foulem, and Harlan House. International artists include Akio Takamori, Toshiko Takeazu, Don Reitz, Kurt Weiser, Lucy Rie, Michael Cardew, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, and Torbjørn Kvasbø.