Guest Blog by Catherine Clifton
It’s not of great financial value or a family heirloom but my Johnson Brothers ‘Eternal Beau’ crockery serves to remind me of my life journey and brings me joy every time I use it. The crockery collection is made up of two sets of four – one gifted to me by my aunts for my 21st birthday and the other by my parents as part of our wedding gift to ensure we had a setting for eight. They were used on our bridal table when we got married and have been in constant use ever since. If I’m to be honest, that would be 30 years!
Yes, we do own other crockery but something draws me back to this set, whether we’re eating takeaway food or Christmas lunch. Even a snag off the barbecue looks a little fancier on the ‘Eternal Beau’. As I was putting it away recently, it occurred to me that I probably should retire it because everyone has eaten more than their fair share of meals off it but I’m yet to see anything with which to replace it. Homewares designer Sarina Mascheroni was responsible for the design – an octagonal shape and delicate floral pattern – which was a big hit for Johnson Brothers. If I saw it on the shelf today I’d still buy it.
At the time it stood out from the rows and rows of round and oval plates in the department store (I can’t remember which one but possibly John Martin’s). I liked its edges – hard lines, perhaps – softened with a pink and green floral pattern. It’s the only floral print I own; you won’t find flowers on our linen or soft furnishings or even clothing.
Now when it’s used it stirs memories, and not just for me. A friend reminded me the other day about the time we used the china for a Melbourne Cup soirée in Outback SA, trading paper plates for something a little more like Flemington, or so we liked to think. The octagonal floral dinner plate may be old hat but it still gets the nod of approval from appreciative friends who are over over-sized plates and draw the line at eating off boards.
It’s not just the design which has endured but also the quality. We’re a dessert bowl down but the rest of the collection is in original condition, not a chip to be seen. It’s survived a three-year stint in the Outback, several renovations at our Adelaide abode, two boisterous boys and many a merry gathering. I’ve always loved cooking and feeding friends and family, and the ‘Eternal Beau’ is a lovely reminder of those occasions.
Catherine Clifton is a journalist and freelance writer. She had a 25-year career with News Corp and was the editor of Adelaide Matters magazine for more than a decade.