Tea Exchange

Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane, Souped Up Tea Urn and Amp / Teapot (Dartford) 2004. Photo: TATE collections

As part of the inaugural programme of the Tate Exchange, students and staff from the BA Interior and Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Arts (UAL) moved their studio into this new space, which occupies an entire floor of the new Blavatnik building (also known as the Switch House) at Tate Modern, Bankside.

Tea Exchange | Tate Exchange, Tate Modern | 22 February – 3 March 2017

Exploring and expanding upon the name of this new initiative, visitors to the museum were invited to share this studio space, taking part in workshops, talks and presentations as part of a curated programme involving with students, tutors and critics. Over the course of the week, participants designed and constructed eight full-scale cardboard teahouses. Exploring themes of social and ritualised behaviour as well as the architectural and cultural significance of tea, these structured considered tea as produce and commodity. Participants drank tea and exchanged ideas, discussing the historical, cultural, social and political significance of tea.

When the teahouses were almost complete, architect Rain Wu performed tea ceremonies that fuse fuse traditions of East and West, using a tea set designed as part of his 2016 artist residency at the Design Museum (down the river). The programme also included a guest lecture by Masayasu Tamiya, exploring the Japanese Way of Tea. On the final day of the Tate Exchange students were joined by a guest critic, who reviewed the Tea Exchange followed by a performative lecture by ISD tutor Marsha Bradfield – Steeped: A Legacy of Tea on the history, culture and politics of tea.

What Happens To Us

Participants, What Happens to Us. Photo: Ben McDonnell, 2017

Curated by Amy McDonnell and Marsha Bradfield, this exhibition examined democracy as a system of community formation.

What Happens to Us | Wimbledon Space | 15 November – 9 December 2016

Communities don’t just happen, they’re made

The exhibition unfolded in the long shadow of the UK’s referendum about whether to stay in Europe or not, as well as the threatening prospect of Donald Trump leading the so-called free world, which compelled many at that time to ask, should we ‘just say no’ to democracy? What if the philosopher Joseph de Maistre was right: people really do get the governments they deserve?

What Happens to Us takes as its departure the exhibition Democracy by the collective Group Material (1988–9), which was determined by round table discussions on the (still) pressing issues of AIDS, cultural participation, election and education. Today, we might add climate change, mass migration and economic disparity to this list. At What Happens to Us we ate together, made decisions and researched collaboratively, and built the exhibition and its ethos over time, hosting daily workshops, talks and screenings in four, weekly phases – ‘Build’, ‘Elect’, ‘Use’ and ‘Account’ to explore the politics in our communities.

With participation from

Acts of Searching Closely, Francesca Baglietto, Manuel Batsch, Brad Butler, Jaya Clara Brekke, Helen Brewer, Georgia Brown, Elliot Burns, Ève Chabanon, Cinzia Cremona, Carla Cruz, Neil Cummings, Neil Farnan, Michael Freedman, Sharon Gal, Naomi Garriock, Alison Green, Isabelle Gressel, Gabriele Grigorgeva, Mark Herbst, Karem Ibrahim, Helen Kaplinsky, Pippa Koszerek, May Project Gardens, Rosia McGinn, Zoë Mendelson, Radical ReThink, Susan Rocklin, Susanna Round, Scott Schwager, Barbara Steveni, Neil Tait, Jessica Tanghetti, Jennet Thomas, Binita Walia, Wright and Vandame

The full programme and archive of the project can be found at www.whathappenstous.org