From January to March 2011, as Artist in Residence at Valentines Mansion, I hosted six tea parties at Valentines Mansion as part of the project ‘A Local Dialogue’. Over 150 million cups of tea are drunk daily in Britain today, we are now a nation of tea drinkers with tea being our most drunk and favourite beverage. As a tea lover herself decided to host the tea parties for local residents, creating a communal space for local people to meet and discuss the local area.
‘’The idea for the tea parties came about from my own love of the beverage and how a good cuppa can be the setting for a really good conversation. I wanted to create a space where strangers could connect and engage over a conversation and I thought about an activity that all communities and cultures shared, and tea drinking seemed apt.”
Each tea party served a different type of tea from a different part of the world, guests were able to experience how tea is drunk in South Asia, North Africa, Persia, China and of course England. An authentic experience was provided with each tea party, I also set a topic of conversation about the local area and history. During the tea parties, the artist collected and recorded stories, memories, experiences of the local area and Valentines Mansion. I also organised two walks/trails of Valentines Park.
The exhibition at Valentines Mansion held on Sunday 22nd May till Sunday 24th July 2011 is a culmination of the conversations that took place during the tea parties and the walks that were facilitated. I utilised a range of multimedia practices to present the conversations from an audio installation, silent film, photographs and an installation dedicated to tea. The project was initiated to empower local communities to play a part in the creation of art through local engagement; local residents whom attended the tea parties and walk played a vital role in this. The project engaged 120 local residents as participants of the project, making art accessible to new audiences and increasing participation in the arts across Redbridge.
For more information about the project, visit: http://alocaldialogue.com/