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...jen o'connor's...Artful Adventures & Daily Inspirations

I Love Art, Adore the Handmade and Treasure the Vintage. I am the Fun Mom, the Silly Friend and the Writer who wants to make more room for beauty in the everyday.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

hello Monday...hello 5 generations

Hello Monday...

It's time to take a peek at the week ahead 
and all I can do is think sentimental thoughts.  
Maybe it's the long summer days...
maybe its the time I share between my kids and my folks..

But hello Monday...I am just in that type of mood.
This is my son Rory and my Mom, Rosie...Rory is the 5th generation of our family to hold this humble pottery plate....

So hello to a good story...and here we go...
note: I recently shared this story with my fellow members of NATS 
(The North American Torquay -- said Tor-Key BTW --- Society)....you heard more about them a few weeks ago HERE on another Hello Monday post...


When I was a little girl, young enough to still be taking naps in the afternoon, I would lie on my parents’ couch and look up at a shelf full of knick-knacks. I knew the most treasured object among them – despite its shabbiness -- was the old cracked plate. I loved the dull shine it had...of course I didn’t know what glaze or slip or sgrafitto was at time, and I could not yet read, but I knew the plate was very old and very dear to my Mom, Rosie. 

She loved it because it had been her grandmother’s – a woman who had been born in about 1850 and died before my Mom was born. This plate was her only link, the only thing she had to connect her to her father’s mother, a woman she had heard so many wonderful stories about. 

She displayed the plate on the shelf, moving it from apartment to apartment and house to house never knowing anything about it... guessing with its motto that it was a gift to her grandmother, or that she herself had purchased it since the words were meaningful to her.

Even as a little girl I had a reverence for the generations that came before me; I was aware that a simple object could connect us to each other.  So, despite being worn and showing age, old things enchanted me with their years.

Fast forward to Rosie’s glorious yard sale-ing adventures during my high school years! At a one in Queens, NYC she stumbled across a wee creamer with a cottage on it and she thought it was just cute. Snatching it up, she enjoyed it and soon found a few other pieces around in her many antiques and junking jaunts – cottages and a few scandy pieces, realizing that the leafy pattern was similar and had similar markings. She quite accidentally, had begun collecting Torquay pottery -- made in Devon, England.

Then, in 1987 we I was in England with my folks, I spotted a blue cachepot in the window of an antiques shop. The store was closed, but staying in the area, we went back the next day to investigate as I thought it was so pretty. 
Turning the pot over, we read “ROYAL TORQUAY POTTERY ENGLAND”.

When I read the motto, I was smitten with Torquay pottery forever…
it was literally speaking to me…
It reads:

Life is mostly froth and bubbles
Two things stand like stone
Kindness in another’s troubles
Courage in your own.


Can you see how I loved it as a teen making life decisions and choices and heading off to college soon? Understanding that it resonated with me, my parents bought it for me as my birthday gift – I turned 18 on that trip. I treasure it…and the memories of discovering it and falling in love with it.   

From then on I hunted up the pottery as I could, discovering so many wonderful patterns from shamrocks to scrolls...Persian and Kerswell Daisy...sigh...
I collected as I could on limited funds and with 
such limited access to it pre-internet.
 
The irony in all this…all that time…during our growing affection for and collection of Torquay pottery, that plate I stared at all those long afternoons when I was supposed to be napping -- my Great Grandmother's plate was Torquay pottery!

Going deeper into collecting -- and being obsessed with handmade things and how they are made -- it was the history of the potters and potteries that made the pieces truly beloved to me. Studying fine art and metropolitan studies and design I was drawn – and still am – to the pottery that came from this region --  in particular what was made before WWII....
 
Through graduate school in Urban Planning and my early professional career I specialized in regional economic development, working to make communities better, more viable by cultivating local resources and thus more livable through job creation and local industry. I knew then that the development of the potteries in Devon was synonymous to my own work and felt closer to the history of the potteries and the handmade creations that emerged from them.

 I often muse that Torquay has always been a part of my life. 
It connected me to my family’s past, it brought me joy in its own beauty and fine workmanship, and it’s clearly provided endless inspiration for me in my career and work.
 
So hello Mom....I am ever grateful to you and so glad I inherited your  appreciation for old things. 

Hello to making life more interesting and meaningful through collecting and the wonderful folks we meet along the way.

Hello cabinets filled with pottery and thinking about the hands that turned and painted these things so many years ago...

 Hello to sharing a story...every handmade object has one of who made it and where it came from...

Hello to loving old things...worn and aged...they can still be dear...

Hello to all of you...
xxoo Jen

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