At an afternoon teatime, I dipped a large hand made tea bag (85cm x 55cm x 25cm) into the source of the River Thames, at ‘Seven Springs’ in Cheltenham. Once the large tea bag had been soaked in the spring, the performance was completed by pouring milk into the water and then finally tying the tea tag (25cm x 25cm) up high upon a tree branch. In a humorous play on words, the large tea bag was ‘branded’ through a tag made out of a piece of cardboard, which was attached to the bag and decorated with the brand name YUANNINGS Everyday. Based upon the well-known TWININGS Everyday brand of tea, the hand made tea bag is intended to enhance a sense of ordinariness through playfully increasing the size of this everyday object to a humorously monumental scale.
In general, I am curious as to the effect that the River Thames has upon local peoples everyday experiences. For me, I feel that it is a gentle, friendly river and that, through its cycles, my mind is continually refreshed. The hydrological cycle of the river has thus been a key inspiration behind my creating this art project about afternoon tea. Acting as a sort of allegory, this project is intended to provide a contemplative reflection upon surrounding lifestyle and cultural experiences which are soaked into our daily lives. Through these experiences, I feel, there is often a juxtaposition between intimate personal experiences, and a shared universal experience. Thus, through my using either well known (locally or globally), or highly symbolic sites for my public art projects, I aim to generate a means through which to observe the everyday within the context of a universally shared experience.
Although it is my motive to create a universally shared experience, I am also interested and deeply influenced by some of the cultural differences, which cause both division and diversity within life. It is important, I feel, to concentrate upon these differences and look deeply into them… to search them, however mundane or banal they might first appear, for at the root you will always find the seed of conception from whence the current life was given form.
Thinking back to the moment when the project Me, the Tea, the River Thames and the constellation Hydra was conceived, I can remember that I was drinking tea as usual at the afternoon teatime, using my recent favorite recipe - green jasmine tea with milk and one spoon of sugar. Suddenly, I felt as if this everyday experience held a profound level of importance… an importance that I should celebrate. In China, jasmine tea is so common that it is seldom paid any attention. For example, if you go to a restaurant in China, the first thing they would do is provide you with a beverage of jasmine tea and, if you ask for a cup of tea during the flight to or from China, you would also most likely be served with jasmine tea. However, within my current geographical location this drink is less commonly taken and is thus given this increased sense of uniqueness. Through this small drop of water in my teacup, combined with a sense of un-homeliness, I realized in this moment how our perceptions of the world, and of ourselves, are melded to such an intricate degree by our surrounding locality and how merely our ordinary daily experiences construct and reinforce our sense of self. As beings, we have a reciprocal relationship with our environment whereby, when we produce, we become the products of our own production.
Loading more stuff…
Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?