Saturday, 31 March 2018

Tea time and a stiff drink.

As part of the 'Fabricated Narratives' exhibition and collaboration, each of the group shared with another an object pertaining to our own, personal work and asked the other to develop a piece from that starting point. It could use a concept, an object, an image etc. in whatever way desired. Once this first 'passing on' is completed, another group member will receive this outcome and work with it in their own way, and so on.
I received a tea cup and a poem from Di. Her theme is 'storm in a tea cup', revolving around climate change.

Di's tea cup

And the poem:

Cup by Di Halstead

Her finger curls
as she sups her tea

She’s classy but not posh
an old fashioned girl
with a modern twist

A styly version of homely
almost every day

BUT definitely not a mug!

 Di's words definitely caught the character of the tea cup.  The shape of the cup is quite traditional (especially the handle), it is made from china clay, but the colours and patterns are from a different period - what do you reckon? Early 70's? 
How to respond? I cogitated for a while, and initially I was very keen to smash the cup, then use the pieces in some way. However, before this, I wanted to record the design on the cup.

Beginning to draw the patterns from the cup 

Beginning to draw the patterns from the cup

After spraying and washing over with iridescent paint

After spraying and washing over with iridescent paint

Armed with these, was I ready to get out the hammer? Well, having read Di's poem, I was thinking about all of the other changes which that era brought. Modernisation was a key influence. Modernisation, mechanisation, change ... And if she was a modern tea cup, would she have preferred tea leaves or tea bags? Would she have been displayed on a tea tray with doilies or not?

Thinking about the tea leaf vs. tea bag conundrum and as a continuation of my 'Stains and Discards' work, I stained papers with tea bags and with tea leaves, I made ring marks from the various circular rims of the cup. 

Splashing, staining, dribbling tea.

And subsequently stitched into some of the stains ...

Ring marks and stitch.
The interlocking circles started me thinking about the doilies with lace edges we associate with tea pots and cups, but at the same time, perhaps, this cup is too modern for that - she wouldn't have been displayed on an embroidered cloth, or one with a lace edge. She's retro not vintage! And then, whilst teaching at the weekend, two boxes of old linen and cotton from the 'op shop' (charity shop) were brought in for us to delve into and there was a plain tea tray cloth sitting waiting for me! Serendipity at play. My paper stains and drawings I decided were going to be added onto the tray cloth to create a place to display the cup -  stained, dribbled, and patterned.

A pile of papers with patterns and stains, ready for assembly
Patterns assembled and ready to stitch on the embroidery frame

Here she is -a tea tray for a styly lady, classy but not posh.

And now I have to pass on the cup (not yet smashed), the tea tray and the remaining drawings and stains which I didn't use. And with my heart in my mouth, allow the next iteration - which might mean that the cloth is painted over, chopped up, anything. Oooh ... a stiff drink of something is called for I think.

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