Why is it that I baulk at spending what seems a lot of money on something like a tea pot or bowl when I happily pass over as much money for a book? Books, one could argue, are there for as long as you wish; they can give one a lot of pleasure over and over again. That is true – and our house is filled to the rafters with books because we are a family of bibliophiles. Is it the feel of a book? The smell of the pages? Is it because I can take a book anywhere with me?
These thoughts passed rapidly through my mind while browsing through the craft market during the National Arts Festival a couple of years ago. Admittedly, I generally work my way through the stands at a fairly rapid rate, my eyes glazing over displays of items that look attractive but I know I do not need and idly wonder where I would put them anyway.
I was arrested by the sight of this teapot juggling for space with larger ones, jugs, mugs, plates, and a collection of salt and pepper pots – all beautifully decorated in the same manner. I stopped and stared at them for a while before picking this one up, turning it over and wondering how well it would pour. I looked at the price tag and replaced it gently. No, I have enough teapots, I thought. Where would I put it anyway?
That teapot would not leave me. I wrestled with the idea of getting it, shoving it aside in favour of being ‘sensible’. Still it remained lodged in my visual memory and the feel of it in the tips of my fingers. I wouldn’t hesitate handing over the same amount of money for a book, I realised. A book that I might only read once and pass on at that.That ‘sealed the deal’ and a day or two later I hastened back to the stall, now anxious that the teapot of the right size would be gone. It wasn’t and to my delight it now resides on the windowsill of the kitchen to be used whenever I make tea for myself.
It is signed Intshiba SA and is part of the Township series of hand-painted ceramics produced in Bredasdorp near Cape Town.