Much as programmes likes 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?
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.