Reflecting upon tea drinking in Australia, Storm in a Teacup brings together a fascinating collection of artworks from across the country in a new exhibition at the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery until 27 September 2015.
Introduced by the British colonials, the afternoon tea party was an attempt to ‘civilise’ the land. Tea drinking became so popular in the colonies that by 1888 the amount of tea consumed per capita exceeded the amount consumed in England. Soon after, billy tea was to become an enduring symbol of the pioneering spirit, immortalised by Henry Lawson’s stories published under the title While the billy boils.
Beginning with elegant paintings of the afternoon tea table from E. Phillips Fox and Arthur Streeton, the exhibition goes on to explore the darker side of tea drinking and the social and environmental impacts of the humble cup of tea.
Michael Cook’s Object (table) 2015, provides an alternative history to the narrative of colonialism, while Sharon West’s Joseph Banks’ tea party for a Botany Bay tribesman is ruined by flies and spiders 2014 and Adam Hill Not everyone’s cup of tea 2009, both use humour to subvert colonial understandings of the afternoon tea party as an occasion of refined gentility.
Comprising a blend of historical masterpieces and contemporary works exploring aspects of tea consumption, iconography and underlying social and cultural dimensions, this exhibition features paintings, works on paper, photographs, ceramics, sculpture and installation by 34 artists, including Charles Blackman, Lyndell Brown & Charles Green, Julia deVille, Julie Dowling, E. Phillips Fox, Rosalie Gascoigne, Adam Hill, Danie Mellor, Darren Siwes and Anne Zahalka.
Storm in a Teacup
Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Dunns Road, Mornington,
Exhibition continues to 27 September 2015
For more information, visit: www.mprg.mornpen.vic.gov.au for details.
Images: Hotham Street Ladies, Dark tea 2015