Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Broken pieces

This post was entirely inspired by MenopausalMusing's latest post.

If I see a bit of broken pottery on the ground, I nearly always pick it up (well, if it's got a pattern on it). There are a lot of things I pick up off the ground -- bits of broken brake-light reflectors, coins, shiny things, dropped photos. My kids call me Pick-up Polly. But broken pottery is one of the things I love best.

On holiday in Fowey I saw shards of pottery stuck in the pavement -- I don't know whether this was accidental or deliberate:

You can just make out a person on horseback.

A piece of broken pottery is a sign of an earlier existence. Sometimes you can find places that have rich pickings, on the sites of old rubbish dumps or where a house once stood. In the Potteries there were so many shards of pottery lying around that people collected them to decorate objects. I adore these.

Here's a ginger jar -- spot the little imp face peeping out:

This old barrel has all sorts of stuff embedded in it, including horseshoes and embellished gilt -- an old brooch?

My great aunt Winnie (of whom more in a future post) had a wonderful pottery-shard table. It stood in her porch and her cat used to sleep on it all day. I had wonderful memories of it from holidays at her house in the Fens and one day I said to my mum that, if a suitable moment ever arose, at some future time, she could perhaps tell aunt Win how much I loved the table and suggest she might possibly leave it to me to remember her by. I thought I was being rather rude to even suggest this, but, my family being the way they are, word soon came back that I could 'have it for £50'. So I bought the table and now I consider it my heirloom anyway:

I should have taken a photo of it sideways on as well. It's made of very solid, dark wood and we use it to put our bedroom bits and pieces on.

I can't get enough of the pottery mosaic objects although they're hard to find (even harder down south where we now live). This is our umbrella stand, a hefty drainpipe:

A jug:

I think the makers of these old objects would paint the grout, possibly a gold-ish colour. Modern attempts at pottery-shard mosaic can look much more raw. This was my rather clumsy first attempt, a mirror:

Emma Biggs made a huge mosaic from medieval shards dug up in York -- the piece was part of an installation in St Marys church in York in 2009, done with her partner Matthew Collings, the art critic. I very much enjoy his art criticism, specially on television -- irreverent and yet incisive. I found this 'interview with Satan' by Matthew Collings on the Saatchi site, about the installation.

When I hold a scrap of broken china, I feel connected to the people who used the object when it was whole. I love the detritus of ordinary lives past, just beneath our feet.

1 comment:

menopausalmusing said...

I have jam jars full of shards which appear in the garden. We have lived here for over 9 years and still they turn up. Sometimes they must be on the surface just waiting for the rain to wash them off and reveal them........