Many years ago I went with my mum to the south of Italy to the town where she grew up. It was December and the weather was incredibly mild. We took a bus to the coast nearby, to a place well known for its ceramic products. After scouring the shops looking for a souvenir, we strolled along the beach, only to discover it was literally littered with hundreds of pieces of broken ceramics, each one washed smooth by the sea.

We walked along the entire stretch of beach, gathering those that took our fancy; a lovely colour, an interesting shape, a pattern or some text. We were selective over quality but not quantity. We were certainly not thinking about our hand luggage weight (we were supposed to be travelling light).

Our individual collections have now been united and brought back to their country of origin, albeit 600km or so from their starting point. Today, the best of these are on permanent display:

It has always been my intention to use the ceramics at some point to create a mosaic effect table top. After a long search (over a number of years) for a wrought iron base, I finally found this small rusty table instead:

rubbed down, legs and underside painted

close up of leg

ceramics fixed with tile glue

grouted ceramics

detail of corner

I look at this table now and all the memories of that trip are brought back to me in a way that no shop bought souvenir ever could.