Tea Seas at BRAG

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Tea Seas, a body of work created during my recent artist residency at Studio Kura in Itoshima, Japan, is now on display at Bunbury Regional Art Galleries (BRAG). It is wonderfully refreshing to be able to exhibit in the same town that I live in for the first time in a long while!

I would like to send a huge thanks to all the staff at BRAG for their involvement, and to Sharon Kennedy for opening the exhibition.

Tea Seas uses imagery of a primordial sea contained in a teacup. Taking their cues from the Japanese tea ceremony, these artworks follow a ritualistic process of repetition and restraint. The paintings, drawings and animation work exhibited use traditional Japanese pigments on rice paper to explore our own biology and evolution.

Photographs by Taj Kemp.

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Tea Seas at Studio Kura

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Here are some photos from the opening of “Tea Seas” at Studio Kura in March 2015. It was such a lovely event, filled with smiles, children, and yummy onigiri!

Thank you to all the wonderful people at Studio Kura, especially my lovely fellow artists, for the time I’ve spent here. I feel so lucky to have met you all and to have enjoyed your company for the two months of my residency.

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Installation in the forest

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Bleed, 2015, Claire Pendrigh

Bleed catalogues the transition of a structured pattern into disordered forms. These small scrolls were created by stacking sheets of rice paper before painting circles on the top sheet, allowing the paint to bleed through to the paper behind.

I’ve created this work for a shrine festival in Itoshima on 21 March, and these photos are from my test run in the bamboo forest behind the residency house. I’m really looking forward to the festival now, it should be a great chance to meet some locals and enjoy a day out of the studio. I just hope that it doesn’t rain!

Bleed scrolls

 

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Tea Seas

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Tea Seas uses imagery of a primordial sea contained within a teacup to explore human existence, both in the context of the domestic and of the universe. This body of work has been created during my two-month artist residency with Studio Kura, Itoshima, Japan.

Tea is a very human beverage. It embodies society, community, hospitality and ritual – social elements that are key to our human existence. Tea is a way to connect with people and open conversations on a domestic scale, but tea can also present a connection to the human existence on far a greater stage.

The water in your teacup is one part of the finite quantity of water we have on Earth. This water changes form, but it is never replenished. The water in your teacup is the same water that flowed in the blood of dinosaurs, and it is the same water from a primordial sea, which may have nursed the first living cells on Earth.

Our natural environment is full of structured patterns, which swing between states order and disorder. Living organisms have the ability to organize. We order elements, arrange cells into complex patterns, build societies and construct rituals.

Just as the circle of your teacup echoes the shape of the cells in your body, it also mirrors the shape of this pale blue dot that we inhabit. Somewhere in the space between order and entropy, is the everyday existence that we know – our work, hobbies, families, and all the interpersonal relationships that we facilitate over a cup of tea.

Taking its cues from the Japanese tea ceremony, Tea Seas follows a ritualistic process of repetition and restraint in order to explore this precarious human existence.

Tea Seas will be exhibited at the Studio Kura Gallery on 28 and 29 March 2015.

Tea in Itoshima

Tea Seas (Red) detail.
Tea Seas (Red) detail.

It is nearly the end of February and I am now half way through my artist residency at Studio Kura in Itoshima, Japan. It has been an interesting and experience so far, and has pushed the boundaries my artistic comfort zone. I have set myself the challenge of working with a new set of materials – powdered pigments and rice paper. Having quizzed the very helpful but non-English speaking staff at the art supplies store, I now have a set of instructions, mostly in the form of drawings, for how to mix and use the pigments.

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All the beautiful colours of powdered pigments.

I am living in a traditional Japanese house, which seems to be built entirely from wood and paper. It does not hold the heat at all, and I often have to open all the doors and windows to let in the warmer-than-inside winter air. The residency is in a semi-rural area, surrounded by farms, forests and ocean. I have taken up weekly Japanese language classes in town, but am making painfully slow progress!

Working on a painting in the studio while one of the other residency artists films my paintbrush.
Working on a painting in the studio while one of the other residency artists films my paintbrush.

During the two months of my residency, I am exploring the theme of tea. Japan is renown through out the world for its tea culture, and as an avid tea drinker myself, I just had to come and find out more about what tea means to people in contemporary Japan.

I see tea as a very human beverage. It embodies society, community, hospitality and ritual – social elements that are key to our human existence. Tea is a way to connect with people and open conversations on a domestic scale, but tea can also present a connection to the human existence on far a greater stage.

The water in your cup of tea is just one part of the finite quantity of water we have on Earth. This water changes form, but it is never replenished. The water in your teacup is the same water that that flowed in the blood of dinosaurs, and it is the same water from a primordial sea, which may have nursed the first living cells on Earth. If this water could remember, it would remember all of humanity from the earliest living cells to the complex, tea drinking, societies that we have today.

My work from the residency program will be exhibited in the Studio’s gallery, housed in a converted, one hundred year old rice silo, in late March. I’ll keep you posted with the details!

"24 Cups of Tea" (detail)
“24 Cups of Tea” (detail)