Priceless (2012) Ceramic. Broken Pheasent plates, gold leaf, sellotape.

Much as programmes like Cash In The Attic seem to
have persuaded us to part with our family heirlooms
for a quick financial fix, for a previous generation.
The Antiques Roadshow helped us to believe that
the trinket our grandmother won at a fair was a
priceless treasure. We scoured car boot sales and
charity shops to find more, to complete the set. It
created a generation of collectors. China quickly
became a favourite. It was an industry for which
Britain was renowned and companies such as Wedgwood,
Royal Doulton, Royal Crown Derby and Portmeirion did
not hesitate to offer us the antiques of the future.
We bought, we displayed, we treasured: but what
happened when we broke it?
Children can be clumsy in their exuberance and
their parent’s prized collection may pay the price.
Priceless reflects upon this moment and what we
might do to put it right. Two identical bone china
pin dishes have been broken by the artist. One has
been hastily repaired with sticky tape: hoping that
the parents won’t notice for just long enough.
It’s twin though is repaired with gold leaf. This
references an ancient Japanese tradition known as
Kintsugi: rather than attempt to hide the repair,
this tradition emphasises the break with gold
coloured lacquer. It suggests that for a pot to be
broken through use is a mark of dignity and should
be celebrated. In contrast to Western traditions,
repaired ceramics can be more valuable than
“perfect” ones, as they have had a life. Priceless
considers how a child might try to make good their
accident in these two different ways.

James Beighton, Senior Curator, mima