Meet Les, one of our local heroes, who was awarded the French Legion of Honour this year for his service as a paratrooper during the D-Day landings of World War II. With a grin and a sparkle in his eye, he talked to me about his wartime service (only briefly, though, as he’s not a particularly sentimental man), immigrating from the UK to Australia in the fifties, and living in the Western District of Victoria.
Edit: Sadly, I heard a week later that Les passed away. I feel so fortunate to have met him and had this opportunity to make his portrait. What a wonderful fellow.
Happenstance brought us to the mystery town of Bridgewater on Loddon, half an hour’s drive from Bendigo; happenstance being our friends who found us accommodation in the mainly booked-out region so that we could join them at the eleventh hour on their planned trip to enjoy some of Bendigo’s Easter Festival.
Loddon – population under 400 – is blessed with a couple of handsome civic buildings, a lovely river only a hundred metres from our motel (perfect for recreational fishing and boating), a photography studio (the region is host to some 200 species of orchid, two of which are extremely rare there), and certainly made us feel welcome for our overnight stay.
In my cupboard sits a little cup upon a saucer. Although very delicate, with a pretty, pearlised white finish, it looks quite unassuming. So what is it that makes this cup so special? When I first found it, in an antique store, I thought nothing of it until the owner showed me what to look for. I had never seen anything like it.
This next picture might give you a clue:
Those in the know will have figured it out by now, but don’t worry if you haven’t. The marvel of this kind of porcelain cup is not how it looks on the shelf or the saucer, but how it looks when you finish drinking your tea; when, as you tip it up to drink the last drops, the Geisha lady in the bottom is revealed by the light.
Lithophaneshave been made in many countries since the early 1800s. Geisha lithophanecups were particularly popular with tourists and those in military service in Japan during WWII, and I think it likely this cup dates from around that time. It’s certainly a wonderful novelty for when friends drop over for a cuppa…but who am I kidding? This cup is so delicate that most of my guests don’t even want to risk drinking from it!