The small back gallery at Yukon Artists at Work is steeped in creativity.
Starting Friday, members of the collective are putting on a show inspired by beverages white, green, oolong, black, and herbal alike.
In Tea Leavings, 10 artists have created more than 30 pieces inspired by tea.
“When people come here, one of the things they remark upon is the diversity of material and approaches,” says artist Nicole Bauberger.
“So having one small thing to sort of focus our attention on lets that diversity come through.”
The idea had its genesis three years ago, the first time Bauberger used tea leaves in her art.
That time it was for a solo show called Remains. She calls that show part of the grieving process for her father.
“My dad was a model railroader and he saved tea. He would take the tea bags and hang them up to dry and he would take the dry tea and put (it) in little jars that were all labelled,” she says.
“The idea was that he could use those as ground cover when he built dioramas in his retirement, but sadly he passed away at the age of 64.”
Bauberger was left with her father’s jars of dried tea.
She used some of the tea in her 2013 show, infusing the dried leaves into wax and sticking them to small wood panels in the shape of dresses.
This past January she was talking to other members of the collective when the original show came up.
“One of the things that YAAW can do is it can put a bunch of artists in one place and they get into conversations…. The idea just struck a spark with (them) and I could see the light go on in (their) eyes.”
Bauberger still had some of her father’s tea left. Panels with ravens made of tea leaves now hang next to the dresses.
By heating the wax containing the loose tea Bauberger was able to carve and push it around until she was left with the shape of a raven.
Along with the tea leaf art, Bauberger created another series on panels, this time depending on tea to provide a stain.
Wooden rectangles, painted white, became her coasters in the morning.
“As I had my morning tea I would stick the tea bag on the panel and leave it there until it dried out,” she says.
The mark left behind was incorporated into more raven art.
One of the first things that you notice when you walk into the gallery space is how good the whole room smells.
That’s not surprising considering how many artists chose to dye their art with teas ranging from black to rose hip to the spicy Bengal tiger tea that gives some works a bright red colour.
Susanne Hausermann is responsible for at least half a dozen of the pieces in the room.
“I just wake up at night and I have the ideas,” she says. “I don’t know where they come from, they just do.”
She’s sewed a skirt that includes decorative tea bags, each with a hand-drawn face.
She’s used wax as an adhesive to build a large model teacup and saucer out of tea bags.
She’s quilted the word “Tea” into the top of a wall hanging made with tea-dyed fabric and tea-stained acrylic wool.
She built necklaces using dried tea bags as the basis for pendants.
“I didn’t drink all of it, but lots of it,” she says.
One of Hausermann’s creations that managed to avoid a dye job is a hat made with rows and rows of unused Twining black tea bags (and one bag of peppermint bag, which you’ll see if you look closely enough.)
It resembles a textured bathing cap, but Hausermann chose not to take it for a dip.
“I was thinking for a long time, should I put it in hot water or not? I decided not.”
Tea Leavings runs at the Yukon Artists at Work gallery on Fourth Avenue from today until the end of the month.
Contact Ashley Joannou at email@example.com