I wonder if Augustus Osbourne Lamplough (our previous Kick-About prompt) ever sipped tea as he laboured at his paintings under some far-off afternoon sun? We’ll never know, but tea is clearly a tonic for the Kick-About collective, as these latest examples of new works made in a short time will illustrate.
“I constructed my chawan of tea-dyed paper—the outside of watercolor paper, the inside a coffee filter. The tea leaves took to each in a different way. I found a paper plate bowl online, and copied the pattern, then sewed my vessel together in my own (imperfect) way. It resembles birchbark baskets made by Native Americans more than Japanese ceramics, and certainly would hold no liquid. But the spirit invoked is the same.”
each step repeated, echoed,
but never mirrored
exactly, never complete.
We construct vessels
to replace our ungrown wings–
impossible, fragile, filled
with hope—windblown, weathered, found.
“I wasn’t really aiming for any kind of authenticity with these. In fact, I believe the shapes are more appropriate for drinking alcohol rather than tea. Instead, I just had a bit of fun playing around with form and colour to generate these drinking vessel-like things, that may or may not be reminiscent of Japanese tea cups.”
“This week I decided to experiment and play around so using PVA, opened-out tea bags and cling film. I moulded a couple of containers (bowls) with loose tea trapped between the layers. After that, I used torches to light through and some of the close-ups became a bit celestial! The last image of the hand was attempting to show tea turning to gold, as Empire cashed in on the underpaid toil of hundreds of tea plantation pickers.”
“When I researched the art of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, I found it quite amazing how much is involved. There are not just the tea bowls, but so many special whisks, pots and ladles, as well as special rooms for preparation and waiting rooms (is that while waiting for tea to brew correctly or maybe some beautiful lady to come and pour it out?). Anyway, it all involves such precision. I have tried to show this in my watercolour and fine line painting, which is a style I really enjoy doing.“
“I had to laugh a little bit when I saw Phil Cooper’s choice of prompt for this week’s Kick-About; of late, I’ve spent a lot of my time painting and decorating, as our house has been looking very ‘lived-in’ and was in need of some care and attention. Less poetically, this has entailed the mixing-up of lots of filler, to apply liberally to the various cracks and craters in our old walls. In truth, I actually love working with filler: I love how perfectly white it is, and how the powder transforms into something as pleasingly spreadable as cake-mixture. I wondered if I could use the filler to produce a few simple bowls, not suited for tea-drinking obviously, and set about slathering it over a balloon-or-two. In lieu of any decorative glazes, I picked a few flowers from the garden and crushed some coloured chalks and squidged these elements against the surface of the balloon beneath big dollops of filler. I then used a knife to spread the filler over and around the balloon to create the rough shape of a bowl. Filler is designed to dry really fast, so you’ve got a bit of time to muck about with it – but not much. The three bowls I’ve included here are the first three I made; there was a fourth, but I broke it. I enjoyed making them a lot and could have go on to make many, many more – but there was this other small matter of finishing the actual decorating…”
“I was instantly drawn to the textures of these gorgeous Chawans, I can only imagine the craftsmanship that goes into creating those intricate glazes. I am a bit of a hunter-gatherer of textures and enjoy capturing the small things that make something whole, so I decided to cherry pick from the mountain of textures I have stored in a number of hard drives and superimpose them in a way that might look like some of those textures that make up Chawans. Some textures in there include; dirt, mold, water, rust, snow, moss, plants, and a hefty amount of ice. It is always a pleasure creating in this way as there is always an air of mystery as I never know how they will turn out.”
“This still life, started in Gloucestershire around 2012 reached completion in Kent for KA60 hence, a view of Isle of Sheppey from Harty Ferry south side. My research tells me the wide-mouthed chawan is ideal for summer, as it cools tea quicker. The cast-iron Tetsubin (featured) is actually the kettle and not a tea pot so, whats missing is the brewing Dobin (ceramic pot) or the Tetsukyusu (iron pot with enamel interior) so, basically I’ve failed to portray the ritual properly! Back to the drawing board…”
“The prompt of an ancient tea cup seemed to beg for a still life painting. I haven’t painted with oils for a long time and then not very much and have kept nothing, though two paintings do adorn friends’ walls. I felt the Kick-About environment a perfect way to have another go at painting with oils. As for the subject, I have a bunch of vintage and antique tea cups, but nothing as old and venerable as the pictured prompt. However, I am total sucker for this green and white tableware from Austria. The ‘Gmundner Keramik’ factory is still producing, and traces its roots to 1492… The pictured pieces themselves are 50’s and later decorated in their ‘grün geflammt’ classic patterns.
To get to this stage of the painting was done in two short sessions: a scratchy sketch and then, the next day, the painting done in one go… sort of ‘alla prima’. The canvas was scraped and cleaned from a previous disaster, (Kick-About / Matisse) and together with the paints, came from a bargain shop. I did use a drying medium and invested in a large tube of mixing white. It was a bit wet on wet, with too short a time between the two layers for the paint to cure properly. But yet again so much learnt and so much still to learn, another great time with this one and much enjoyed. Paul Cezanne said, ‘With an apple I will astonish Paris’. In my painting there are two apples, but I doubt they will astonish anyone…”
“While exploring the art and intricacies of the tea ceremonies of Japan and China, it struck me that the British have also developed many forms of tea ritual over the centuries since we were first introduced to this fragrant tonic. Many of these rituals faded almost to extinction in the latter part of the 20th century, with the ubiquitous upsurge in coffee-drinking. But tea has made something of a comeback, evolving, fragmenting and adapting to meet the needs of the 21st century Brit. Of course, different generations and different environments require different rituals. My beloved and I went into a café once, when we were on holiday, and the following conversation took place :-
Waiter: What can I get you, sir?
Beloved: Coffee for me, please.
Waiter: Expresso, latte, cappuccino?
Beloved: Just ordinary coffee, please
Waiter: Milk or cream?
Beloved: Just ordinary coffee with milk.
Waiter: That would be a Flat American, sir.
Waiter: Anything else, sir?
Beloved: A tea for my wife, please.
Waiter: English Breakfast?
Beloved: No thanks, We ate at the hotel.
(At which point, the waiter gave up the struggle).
I digress. So back to British tea rituals and the proliferation of varieties and styles in serving tea. One area of ritual that never entirely died away, especially amongst a certain sub-sect of English middle-class women (myself included) are those rituals surrounding “Hosting a Committee Meeting in One’s Own Home”. I am sure the following will seem quite bizarre to some of you, but I hope it chimes, however faintly, with some of you.”
And for our next Kick-About together, a melancholy wisp of a thing from Molly Drake…
We tramped the open moorland in the rainy April weather
And came upon the little inn that we had found together
The landlord gave us toast and tea and stopped to share a joke
And I remember firelight
I remember firelight
I remember firelight
And you remember smoke
We ran about the meadow grass with all the harebells bending
And shaking in the summer wind a summer never-ending
We wandered to the little stream among the river flats
And I remember willow trees
I remember willow trees
I remember willow trees
And you remember gnats
We strolled the Spanish marketplace at 90 in the shade
With all the fruit and vegetables so temptingly arrayed
And we can share a memory as every lover must
And I remember oranges
I remember oranges
I remember oranges
And you remember dust
The autumn leaves are tumbling down and winter’s almost here
But through the spring and summertime we laughed away the year
And now we can be grateful for the gift of memory
For I remember having fun
Two happy hearts that beat as one
When I had thought that we were “we”
But we were “you and me”.