English Breakfast Chinese Tea 英式早餐中国茶

Scotland_edited_edited.jpg

2019

30cms (W) x 24cms (H)

Oil on Panel

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NB. Awaiting hi-def scan

For my first 3 years in China I worked for a Sino-British joint venture, and it's very common to discuss the similarities and differences between British and Chinese culture. One of the most visible examples of something that is very similar but also very different is the tea culture.

It is fair to say that tea is an extremely popular drink in both cultures, though the types, method of drinking and role in the culture are very different.

I wanted to create a visual joke where I blend two stereotypes of each tea culture. I took elements of the traditional Gong-fu tea culture ( a ritualistic celebration of the drink where loose-leaf tea is brewed multiple times in small quantities in a tennis ball-sized teapot and served in small china cups). This way of enjoying tea is somewhat traditional, complicated and precise which is part science part art form. I wanted to contrast this with the way I would drink tea most commonly back in the UK; a teabag strongly brewed in a teapot, with milk, maybe sugar and perhaps a biscuit or cake. Drinking tea this way is super-simple (though getting the right brew can be tricky), it's quick and the focus is on relaxation (usually I'd drink the tea while doing something else). I love both approaches to tea for different reasons, and both are perfectly appropriate in different circumstances.

In this regard, this reflects the subject's blending of Chinese culture and non-Chinese culture (in this case British) and the ability to mix, match and blend different and often contrasting aspects of both cultures as the circumstances require. The same applies to blending traditional and modern and being able to recognise that both have value; this person is open-minded does not dogmatically insist that one is better than the other.

On the different parts of the picture; the teapot and cups I spent several weeks scouring dusty overcrowded antique stores in Shanghai looking for a suitably patterned teapot. This one I settled on is over 100 years old and has taken some damage over time. It still cost me 1200RMB (and I painted out the damage to restore it to glory), though undamaged teapots from a similar area were over 4 times that.

The greens on the right hand side are tea leaves called Longjing. It's quite an expensive type of green tea that has a mild fresh and grassy flavour. I added this as the painting needed a little bit of extra colour and also something to help with the perspective of the picture.

The biscuits in the centre I actually only added to help provide some scale for the teapot and cups. A Chinese viewer would know that the teapot and cups are small, though may not recognise those biscuits. A British viewer would have no idea the tea set is small, but would know how big  a Jammie Dodger or a Bourbon Cream is. It's actually very difficult to get these biscuits in China, so I spent a couple of hours sourcing a pack on a recent trip to Hong Kong (where there are lots of Brits who create a demand for biscuits).

等待高清扫描

在中国的头三年里,我在一家中英合资企业工作,讨论中英文化之间的异同是很常见的。茶文化是最相似但又非常不同的最明显例子之一。

可以说,在两种文化中,茶都是一种非常受欢迎的饮料,尽管茶的类型,饮用方法和作用在文化中有很大不同。

我想创造一个视觉笑话,将每种茶文化的两种刻板印象融合在一起。我采用了传统的功夫茶文化(对茶饮的一种礼节性仪式;茶叶泡散开;多次沏泡在网球大小的茶壶中,少量多次;倒入小瓷器茶杯饮用)。这种喝茶的方式有些传统,复杂和精准,科学又艺术。我想把它和我在英国最常见的喝茶方式做个对比:一个在茶壶里煮得很浓的茶包,里面有牛奶,也许有糖,也许还有一块饼干或蛋糕。这样喝茶非常简单(尽管正确的冲泡可能比较难),很快,重点是放松(通常我会一边喝茶一边做其他事情)。这两种喝茶的方法我都喜欢,原因各不相同,而且在不同的环境下都非常合适。

从这个意义上来说,这反映了中国文化和非中国文化(这里是英国)的融合,以及根据情况需要将两种文化的不同,常常是对比的方面进行混合,匹配和融合的能力。这同样适用于融合传统与现代,并能够认识到两者都有价值。这个人思想开放,并不教条地坚持非此即彼更好。

在照片的不同部分;茶壶和茶杯,我花了几个星期在上海老旧而有灰尘,拥挤的古董店里寻找一个图案合适的茶壶。我定下的这个已经有100多年的历史了,随着时间的推移,它已经受到了一些破坏。它仍然花了我1200元(我把损坏的部分涂上,恢复了它的光泽),尽管来自类似地区的未损坏的茶壶价格是它的四倍以上。

右手边的绿色的是称为龙井的茶叶。这是一种相当昂贵的绿茶,散发淡淡的新鲜和草味。我放上龙井是因为这幅画需要一些额外的颜色,也需要一些东西来补充不同视角。

我放在中间的饼干实际上只是为了给茶壶和杯子提供一个尺寸参考。中国人看这幅画会知道茶壶和茶杯很小,但可能不会认出那些饼干。英国人不会知道茶具多小,但知道一个果酱道奇或波旁奶油多大。在中国大陆不不太容易买到这种饼干,我是在最近一次去香港时,花了几个小时找到的这个饼干。香港有很多英国人,所以有这类饼干需求。