My mother and I share a limitless appetite for beautiful pots, expensive soap and unnecessarily artistic linen tea towels, which makes buying her annual birthday gift an absolute breeze. So, when my Blackberry birthday alert beeped to remind me that June 30 was a week away, I took myself off to my local gallery – New Brewery Arts in Cirencester – confident that I would find something suitable before the 30-minute free parking allowance expired.
And I was right. There on the shelf in front of me was a jug so perfect it could have been made to commission. It was simple in shape (a hatred of fussy forms is another trait we share), narrow of top (vital if a jug is to be used for flowers) and decorated with an abstract pattern inspired both in colour and form by midcentury textile designers such as Lucienne Day, Robert Stewart and Sylvia Chalmers.
I scooped it up, paused to read the blurb about the maker (a Dutch-born, Suffolk-based potter called Irena Sibrijns with a serious talent for wheel-made, functional ceramics) and rushed to the till (it cost £95), convinced that I had beaten my siblings to the best birthday gift award yet again.
The Festival Jug now sits on a pale grey dresser in my mother’s kitchen and very fine it looks too, with or without the addition of a few sculptural blooms. So fine, in fact, that I rather regret not keeping it for myself.