The sun was setting as we climbed over the fence. Cloaked in thick coats and kitted with worn wellington boots we stumbled over the freshly turned soil of the field just beyond our plot. We meandered across the farmer’s field at a painstakingly slow pace. A pace any parent of a toddler knows all too well. In the middle of the field we stopped abruptly and she looked down at the soil that begged to be crumbled and kneaded in her soft young hands. As the soil slipped through her tender fingers a small piece of blue and white ironstone sat in the palm of her hand. A toddler’s treasure found.
Earlier that week I had stumbled across a blue and white patterned platter, whilst sifting through the clutter of a junk shop shelf. Finding that blue and white treasure was the beginning of a collection and an adventure. A week on and our magpie toddler found a piece of ironstone that matched her mama’s new platter from the junk shop. It had been hidden in the farmer’s freshly tilled soil. Blue and white patterned china seemed to be everywhere, even rising up from the soil. I began to wonder, does this happen everywhere?
A year later and on the other side of an ocean, I would discover the same blue and white pattern in the bottom of my grandmother’s dining cabinet as we sifted through a lifetime of objects. All the pieces began to fit together in my head as I connected the very personal with the universal. A junk shop shelf and a freshly tilled field in England. A china cabinet in Miami. I began to wonder how many people have come in contact with Willow Pattern in its many forms, the same pattern I kept stumbling across. An overlooked object captured my imagination and revealed a world and a story I was just beginning to understand.