On a hot summer day like today – when you remember the old adage that tea is actually rather refreshing, if not rather cooling – you may take a sip from a cup like this. I wonder if it is because I don’t have a garden that I am constantly drawn to idyllic images of gardens and people gardening, rusty old gardening tools, terracotta plant pots and old greenhouses. I have no real desire to garden, you understand, just to partake of the garden as subject in art.
The Beswick pottery pattern Green Fingers, seen here, is one of those beautiful mismatches of pattern, form and function so common on mid-century pottery. Beswick produced equally eccentric tea sets with ballerinas on them and even a set with cacti prickling across it.
On the larger set of Green Fingers china the illustrations suffer from being slapped rather haphazardly onto the china. Other pieces show gentlemen resting against trees, whilst the ladies dig away in their proto-New Look skirts and ballerina pumps. There is no attempt to match the form to its decoration or to balance the quantity of plain colour with the illustrations.
But for me, the isolated image on this cup is just right. It could have appeared on a 1950s Vogue page concerning what to wear in the garden. You can practically hear the clink of glasses, the buzzing of bees and the creak of wicker.