Friday, October 8, 2010

Reading the tea leaves

Seasoning the new teapot

I'm writing this post in a Chinese teahouse in Surry Hills, Sydney, sipping a rare and precious rock tea, with the owner's very well behaved poodle sitting on the chair beside me. Very civilised, yes?

Tea drinking is a ritual for me - sometimes a very quick ritual, but a ritual none the less. It's a touchstone of calm and gratitude, and a chance to sit with the deep, steady serenity that lives within us.

That's what serenity is, really. It's easy to feel a facile simulacrum of serenity, the easy calm of a good massage, or the hypnotic music in the local New Agey shop. True serenity, though, wells from within. It's the calmness to steadily face life as it is, unshaken by the storms. That steadfast equilibrium that lets us smile, even when things around us ostensibly suck.

How is this relevant to photography? I've been thinking about the themes in my work, lately, and it struck me at about the third cup of tea that this serenity is one of the most constant and powerful themes in my images. It's a state of being that I want to share with people; the strength to calmly face the world without the assumptions and compartments we normally impose on life around us.

I rarely say this directly, though. I'm not fond of straightforward statements in art; they're too simple and too easily discounted. This serenity, though, I think is a message straight from my subconscious to yours.

A lot of meaning for a single pot of tea, yes? It's a good thing the tea has depth enough to take it. Maybe you could have a cup with me?

New teapot plus tea

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