The work

This artwork explores the act of creating art whilst drinking tea at home.  It details a collection of responses to a call regarding ‘creating art whilst drinking tea’.  Participants were invited to create a small artwork – just a postcard size.  Using the simple act of drinking tea, we invited them to take a moment and capture their feelings whilst doing so and to communicate a little part of themselves.

The responses are diverse, from rug making to painting with coffee, similarly the interactions were from a wide age range.  The project gave participants the opportunity to connect, have a cuppa and to take time away from their daily life. The greatest value in reaction was the freedom of mind that creating art gave each participant.  Also, the opportunity of human connection during a time when life was all about isolation and seclusion.  The artwork serves as a record of this unprecedented point in time. 

Reflection: Sue Bown

Reflection: Becky Dodman Wainwright

My observation was the opportunity to connect differently at a time when the mundane and routine had become an overwhelming part of our lives.  The act of creating proved a point of distraction that brought forth smiles and warmth, it changed the conversation and freed the mind. 

Tea is about relationships and capturing moments in time.  Using tea as a mechanism to ground the art making experience in a familiar, accessible and comforting environment while creating something new. Tea can be viewed as a mundane, unceremonious activity, but culturally, we have come to take it for granted. 

Mongolian tea practices are embedded in daily life. The ritual of drinking tea happens at the beginning of the day, and is shared firstly by the women of the community, to give thanks to yesterday, deities, the deceased, and pass on stories to the younger people in their communities. It maintains a regularity, a space to share.   Here, ‘having a cuppa’ also allows us the space to share stories, mark moments in time, or simply pause through a busy day.  Tea crosses the realm of both the domestic, work and creative spheres.  It is a vehicle for us as a community to connect.  It is the tea shop, the coffee shop. It is the body politic.  It is British.  It merges both political aspirations of a conservative culture (sober, hard working, studious) with the emotional wellbeing of US as a British culture. It is deeply cultural.  And yet we don’t celebrate it.  We forget it is our mechanism to share, to remember, to love.  My work represents subverting the accepted industrialised mechanism to creating a utilitarian rug through the act of tea leaf reading to create bespoke design.  It is an authentic moment in time that connects me as the artist/designer with my participant – in this case my daughter who I love deeply.  She represents our togetherness and the act of making tea and art with her during lockdown was our expression of love and care in our isolated days.  We found a shared language to be together and create something we can both remember.  I miss our tea shops.  The embroideries were an extension of this.  While I couldn’t sit and have tea with Marielle or Penny, they were able to create artworks while remembering a more ‘together’ time.

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