What a cracked dish can tell us

A few days ago I showed a beautiful dish, made by Chelsea between 1752 and 1758, on my Instagram page. Many people loved it and hundreds responded - but why is it that an old, cracked and fairly badly potted dish can engender such enthusiasm? Today I am telling more about this very special dish, you can watch it here on YouTube. Sometimes we can be stunned by superb pieces of art - but sometimes it is a very humble item that moves us: something that barely passed the test of time (and quality control!) and stands before us humbly and, well, cracked. Who made this dish, how, and why is it not symmetrical? How did it survive? And why is it just so beautiful? You can also find it on my website,

The Aesthetic Movement

As Victorian design became more and more prescribed and opulent during the mid-19th Century, young designers started to rebel. They wanted to go back to basics - "Art for Art's Sake" was the motto: things needed to be beautiful and useful, not decorative out of habit and, well, frankly: a lot of bad taste! Money can buy luxury, but not necessarily good taste. So the Aesthetic Movement was born, a breath of fresh air, letting in Nature in a simple way, adorning useful wares effectively and lovingly, without showing off or following stale trends. You can find out more about this in my video, where I show some very different pieces that were made in this period, and introduce you to how this mo

Tea with an Early Industrialist

So what does linseed oil have to do with teacups? Well, a while ago I had the privilege of having a look at the estate of the family of a friend. It turned out that their great-great grandfather had been an early British industrialist, who invented a way to produce linseed oil on an industrial scale, enabling many famous steam engines to run on it. If you've heard of Locomotion One, the first British public passenger train in 1825, or Sir James Clark Ross, who located the Northern Magnetic Pole in 1831 - that was with the help of the linseed oil of my friend's forebear. It was a time when clever young people could become rich overnight, and they bought themselves big houses and filled them u

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