Saturday, 5 July 2014

At the East Sussex Open, Towner Gallery, Eastbourne

Pictures of the Private View of the East Sussex Open at the gorgeous Towner Gallery. Lovely to be part of this show. It is open until September.
Posing with my painting 'Steam'

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Teaism - the way of tea

Tribalism has been defined in engaged theory as a ‘way of being’ based upon kinship, place and communication . My body of work entitled ‘Tea Ceremony’ is an ongoing investigation into various cultural traditions of tea drinking and ritual that draws upon the simplicity of the teacup as a symbol of comfort, conviviality and contemplation. The Tao says that ‘tea is a way of being’. ‘Teaism’ or the ‘way of tea’ is a term to describe the tea ceremony that incorporates a set of rituals, which are practised to cultivate harmony with nature, and to help balance the heart and mind. Teaism teaches restraint and simplicity, and finds beauty in the ordinary.

Kukicha - acrylic on canvas
Tea has been consumed in Britain since colonial times. From China, via the Silk Road, to India, Africa and beyond, each culture, region or clan has its own variation of tea and tea ritual. Growing up in England, a nation of tea drinkers, I have enjoyed cream teas, tea parties and tea-breaks. I have found comfort, friendship and curiosity in all manner of teas, from the conventional ‘builders’ teabag to first-flush Darjeeling, and fair-trade green to multifarious herbal infusions. Travelling, I have enjoyed sweet masala chai on Indian trains and sage-infused Bedouin tea around a campfire in Sinai. Through yoga and meditation I have developed an interest in the more formal tea ceremonies rooted in the Chan and Zen traditions of China and Japan.  

Bedouin Tea
Chinese Tea

Much of my work is about finding tranquility or harmony in ordinary things. I approach the making of work in two distinct ways. Both originate with an idea I wish to convey, and the ‘letting go’ of that idea and simply painting.

Sunday Morning
I allow myself to play with the paint, being spontaneous with colour and movement. These paintings often result in many layers as I work over them, tidying up to create the right effect without losing the dynamic energy.

At other times, I respect the power of the simplest mark, inspired by my study of Zen calligraphy. These paintings may appear to have been thrown together in minutes but there is often a whole stack of rehearsed pieces left behind.

Eventually I arrive at a place where the qualities I am searching for – rhythm, form, colour, harmony – are held in a delicate balance, allowing the overall result to appear effortless.  I draw inspiration from the philosophy of tea ceremonies to express these ideas in my work.