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7th Jul, 2022

Tea time at Compton Verney as exhibition celebrates the cuppa

Ian Hughes 1st Jul, 2019

IT’S time for tea at Compton Verney Art Gallery.

The country house gallery presents A Tea Journey: from the Mountains to the Table from July 6 to September 22.

The exhibition aims to take visitors on a journey across time and continents, to explore tea as a muse and its cultural significance throughout the centuries.

It will examine how a simple infusion of leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant in hot water has travelled across the globe to permeate every strata of society.

From the plant to the pot, tea has inspired all manner of artistic expression – from ceramics, to paintings, to poetry. The exhibition will include more than 150 works, from the Tang dynasty to the present day, together with new work and commissions by contemporary artists.

Once a luxury item held under lock and key, tea became a household commodity and transitioned from the castle to the cottage in less than 100 years – captured in paintings such as the Richard Collins’ 1727 work The Tea Party to William Redmore Bigg’s 1793 picture A Cottage Interior: An Old Woman Preparing Tea.

The exhibition will also feature field recordings of folk songs by tea plantation workers in North Bengal, and Hetain Patel’s film, How to Make a Proper Cup of Tea, which explores cultural assumptions in a kitchen setting.

There will also be a focus on the Japanese tea ceremony and how the revered performance continues to inspire teaware and architecture. One of the exhibition highlights will be a tea ceremony house – The Umbrella Tea House – made of bamboo and paper, and designed by architect Kazuhiro Yajima. The house is not only leaving Japan for the first time, but will be transported by ship following some of the original trading routes used by British tea clippers.

And a multi-sensory experience will allow visitors to smell and taste the diverse flavours of the tea plant – from oolong to rooibos and many more.

Visit www.comptonverney.org.uk for further details.

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