Play Lunch - Townsville City Council

Play Lunch - Townsville City Council


play lunch

Featuring Lunch for the Trades and Tea Party by Ruth Downes



23 April - 20 June 2010







play lunch

Featuring Lunch for the Trades and Tea Party by Ruth Downes

Food, glorious food

Still Life

Looking & Making Activities:

Jan Hynes

Martin Kizur

Carolyn Dodds

Collection Work

Ruth Downes


Artist Statement


Lunch for the Trades

Exhibition information

Looking & Making Activities: CARPENTER’S Burger ‘n’ Chips

Tea Party

Artist Statement

Looking & Making Activities: English Breakfast Tea

Ruth Downes Tea’s Off, 2007, Fake turf and golf tees.

This resource has been designed in response to the annual Children’s exhibition. It aims to highlight key

works and themes from the exhibition and can be used as an independent pre-visit or post-visit study


Its purpose is to assist both students and teachers with the interpretation of Ruth Downes’ artwork, as well

as provide insight into her art practice. It also includes a number of artworks sourced from the Townsville

City Council Art Collection and local Townsville artists.

This resource has been written with reference to the 2009 Queensland visual arts syllabus; Essential

Learnings 1-10 and Senior Syllabus. It includes questions and activities for students based on artworks

and selected themes that may be adapted to better suit particular curriculum requirements.

Contact Hannah Murray (Audience Development Officer) at Perc Tucker Regional Gallery for more

information. Phone: 07 4727 9011 or Email:




glorious food

Food is very important in all of our lives. We eat food for nourishment, growth, health, celebration

and comfort. It is an essential part of everyday life and not surprising has proved to be a rich

source of inspiration for artists. Throughout history artists have produced detailed realistic

representations of food, kitchens, feasts and marketplaces. Artists have also used the shapes,

colours and textures of food as a basis for artwork and design.

A still life is a considered arrangement of inanimate, everyday objects and matter. A still life

may reference natural materials including food, fruit, vegetables, flowers, fish and shells and/or

man-made objects such as jugs, bottles, books, musical instruments, tables, cloth and different

kitchen items.

The earliest still life artworks were traditionally religious paintings and contained Christian

symbols such as fruit and fish. The 16th Century witnessed an explosion of interest in the natural

world and still life artwork was primarily scientific illustration and botanical representation.

Artist Giuseppe Archimboldo (1527-93) arranged fruit and vegetables in the shape of a smiling

portrait. This artwork was part of a series of four ‘vegetable portraits’ each depicting a different

season. His work was very inspirational to the Surrealist painters who love the unexpected.

Vegetable Portrait

Giuseppe Archimboldo

(Italian, ca. 1527-1593). Summer,

1563. Oil on limewood. 84 × 57 cm

(33 1/16 x 22 7/16 in.).© Kunsthistorisches

Museum, Gemäldegalerie,



artwork of Giuseppe

Archimboldo (1528

-1593). Look at his

paintings closely. How

many different types of

food can be seen?

MAKE your own healthy

food collage selfportrait.

Use pictures of

food from magazines

to create the different

features of a face.

Food has been a popular

subject for still life

paintings since Ancient

Roman times. FIND two

examples from different

times or cultures.

DESCRIBE what role

food has in each of the

artworks. WHAT appeals

to you about each


MAKE your own edible

artwork using real food

and coloured food dye.

As a class CREATE

an edible feast of food

sculptures. Invite friends

and family to look

and maybe eat your

ephemeral sculptures!

Still life was a popular subject matter during the 17th Century and 18th Century and paintings

were very skilful and realistic, so much that some were considered a trick to the eye, or trompe

l’oeil’. Especially popular during this period were vanitas or paintings where the arrangements

of fruit and flowers, books, statuettes, vases, coins, jewellery, paintings, musical and scientific

instruments, fine silver and crystal, were accompanied by symbolic reminders of life’s

impermanence or moral issues such as greed, wealth and gluttony. Still life paintings during

this period also began to represent rare and expensive food which reflected the development in

travel, trade and farming.

The 19th century witnessed a completely new approach to still life, and artists moved away from

realism and instead worked to create an impression or feeling of what they saw. This style of

art was called Impressionism, which was closely followed by Post-Impressionism. Rather than

using small, realistic brush strokes, artists instead focused on experimenting in broad, dabbing

brush strokes, tonal values, vivid and often unrealistic colour and light treatment. Well known

Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists include, Claude Monet (1840-1926), Edvard Manet

(1840-1926), Vincent Van Gogh (1853-90), Paul Cezanne (1839-1906).

A number of different overlapping styles followed the Impressionist movements and influenced

diverse approaches to the still life and food. This included the total abstraction of still life objects

or Cubism, for which artist Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was well known. In contrast, Surrealism

was an art movement that featured highly detailed, hyper-realistic, dreamlike artworks that often

depicted food. Surrealist artists include Rene Magritte (1898 -1967) and Salvador Dali (1904-89).

Arguably the most popular representation of food, specifically fast food, is that of Pop Art. Pop

artists worked in highly individual styles and many adopted commercial methods of production.

Some artists aimed to celebrate popular culture, while others offered criticism, humour or

indifferent commentary on contemporary culture. Two popular artists include Andy Warhol

(1928-97) and Claes Oldenberg (b1929). Warhol is particularly famous for his Campbell’s soup

can and Coca-cola paintings and prints. Oldenberg’s food sculptures include plaster cakes and

pastries, and giant soft sculptures of a hamburger, chips and an ice-cream cone.

Antoni Miralda (b1942) is one artist who uses food not only as the subject but also as the

medium. Using coloured food dye Antoni makes edible art installations, including rainbow

coloured drinks, purple pasta, blue eggs and multi-coloured bread! Inspired partly by European

festivals, his artwork is a colourful and fun celebration of food that can be enjoyed both visually

and gastronomically.


Darby, Max and Jane, Sandra, Art Is...Making, creating and appreciating 1998, Jacaranda, John Wiley and

Sons, Australia Ltd.

Israel, Glenis, Artwise Visual Arts 7-10 1997, Jacaranda, John Wiley and Sons, Australia Ltd.

Stockley, Michele, Art Investigator 1998, Heinemann, Victoria.





Jan Hynes was born in

Merredin, W.A., trained

as a teacher in 1963

and spent time in Papua

New Guinea before

completing her Bachelor

of Arts at QCA, Brisbane

in 1987.

The artist moved to

Townsville in 1996 and

completed her Masters

of Creative Arts at JCU in


Jan has been awarded

the Logan Art Prize

(Drawing) and the

Jacaranda Drawing

Prize (Grafton), among

others, and her work is

in numerous collections

across Queensland.

In 2003 Perc Tucker

Regional Gallery mounted

Hynesight Recent Work a

major solo exhibition of

paintings and sculpture

including a series of


Jan HYNES Sweet and sour, lollies and lemons 2005 Oil on canvas 80 x 90 cm Ann Chalmer’s Collection

Name the objects, colours and shapes that you can see in Jan Hynes’ painting. Describe what

you see. What is in the foreground, the middle and the background?

Look at the painting by Townsville artist Jan Hynes and also look at the painting by Juan

Sanchez. Discuss what the similarities and differences are in this painting. Why do you think the

artists hang food from a piece of string?

What would you prefer to eat, the lemons or the lollies? Describe what they would taste like.

Juan Sánchez Cotán Quince,

Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber,

1602, San Diego Museum of Art.

Collect a variety of different fruit and vegetables.

Identify each food item and discuss the colour, shape, texture and taste of each one.

Place some of them on a table on a plate or basket. Try hanging an object from a piece of string.

Experiment with arranging the objects in different ways.

Use a cardboard window to frame your still life.

Darken the room and take turns using a strong torch or lamp to shine a light on the still life from

different angles. Describe the different effects.

Paint, draw or photograph your still life from different angles

Research the artists from the 17th Century including Juan Sanchez and 17th Century Dutch

painters. What makes this style of painting so appealing?

Discuss how Jan Hynes may have appropriated or borrowed the artwork of Juan Sanchez: What

references does Hynes make in her work and how has she changed the meaning of her work?

Do you think this was intentional? If so, why?

Consider the use of symbols in art. In what way could this painting be described as ‘symbolic’?

What is the artist trying to represent?

Investigate the genre of still life. What is still life and what are its origins? How have artists dealt

with this theme? Consider composition, subject matter, realism and technology.

Explore the concept of using food symbolically in still life. Consider how you could represent

opposing ideas in one artwork; for example bitter / sweet, healthy / unhealthy, good / evil, fresh /

rotten, young / old.

Appropriate (borrow) the style of Juan Sanchez’s Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber still

life. Change it to create an artwork that comments on gluttony, obesity, or world starvation. Use

any media you wish. You may include words to help communicate your meaning.





Martin Kizur was born

in 1957 in Slovak

Yugoslavia. He studied

Fine Art at the Academy

at the University of Arts

in Belgrade, where he

obtained a Masters of

Arts degree. Kizur moved

to Australia in 1991.

Since arriving in

Australia, Kizur has been

exhibiting regularly. He

has participated in 60

national and international

exhibitions including

14 solo shows. He has

won 15 awards during

his career and in 2003

his work was acquired

by the Townsville City

Council for the Centenary

of the City’s Civic History


In the 2004 Townsville

Art Society Awards, Kizur

won the Townsville Port

Authority Acquisitive

Award, and in 2007 was

awarded the Gallery’s

first biannual Percival

Portraiture Award.

Martin Kizur Ceramic bottle and oranges, Acrylic on canvas 45x45cm, 2008, Private Collection

Describe the different shapes and colours you can see in this painting.

Using all of the 5 senses (sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing) make a list of words to describe the

painting. How does this painting make you feel?

Paul Cézanne, Fruit and jug on a table,

1893 -1894 Oil on canvas.

Henri Mattisse, Still Life with of fruit and

a bronze statue, 1910 Oil on canvas.

Collect a variety of still life materials such as a bowl, vase, fruit, fabric and flowers.

Arrange your objects on a table. Experiment with different compositions or still life arrangements.

Make drawings from different view points and develop your favourite one into a painting.

Paint your still life using lots of bright, contrasting colours.

Alternatively, draw or paint each object separately. Cut out the drawings and arrange them on a

page like a collage. Experiment with different compositions.

Use this painting and ones beside it to design a still life using only shapes, colour and pattern.

Use your still life design to create a collage using shapes cut out of coloured paper, material and


Exhibit your artwork for the class or school. Organise a gallery space, frame the artworks, create

advertisements, design invitations and prepare food for the opening.

Describe the mood of Ceramic bottle and oranges? How is the mood influenced by the use of

colour and shapes?

Research the following art movements: Impressionism and Post Impressionism. Select an artist

from these periods and study their life and work. Present your research to the class.

Investigate the artwork of Paul Cezanne, Apples and Oranges c.1895-1900 and the artwork of

Yasumasa Morimura titled Criticism and the Lover A, 1990. Discuss your findings as a class.

Use computer-scanned images or Photoshop to incorporate images of your own face into a still

life artwork from the past to create a humorous new art work.

Compare the artwork by Martin Kizur with paintings from the Post-Impressionist period, including

the two artworks shown here. Consider their intentions, subject matter and technique. Is there

evidence that Impressionism has influenced the work of Martin Kizur? Explain your answer.

Discuss the artist’s approach to materials and techniques. How has this artwork been made?

Has he softly blended the colours, used great detail or thick, short brush strokes?





Carolyn Dodds was

born in Brisbane in 1953

and moved to Britain

the following year. She

studied at Colchester

School of Art and

completed a Bachelor

of Fine Art at Brighton

Polytechnic in about


Carolyn returned to

Australia c1982 and

worked as Curator of

the Griffith University Art

Collection 1985/86.

In 1986 she became

an instructor in Fine Art

at Home Hill College of

TAFE. She was awarded

the Queensland Art

Gallery’s inaugural

William Buttner

Scholarship and Pigs and

pig dogs won the Martin

Gallery Award at the

Townsville Pacific Festival


Carolyn DODDS Birds of Paradise 2008 Linocut printed on Chinese mulberry paper 122 x 74 cm City of Townsville Art Collection

Look closely at this artwork. Can you name all of the different fruits in this artwork? What birds

and animals can you see?

Describe all of the different things you can see in this print. Is this still life inside or outside?

Imagine sitting down at this table. What can you smell? What can you hear? What tastes

delicious? What feels smooth? What types of colours might you see?

What do the animals, birds and fruit tell you about this artwork or artist? In what town or country

do you think this artwork was made? Explain your answer.

Draw what you would like to eat at this table. What other animal would you like to invite into this


Describe the different types of lines and shapes you can see in this artwork. Discuss how the

artist has created texture and pattern. Use this artwork and others you may have seen, design a

pattern filled with shapes, flowers and stripes.

Create your own still life using a tablecloth, fruit, cups, local flowers and/ or household objects.

Include your favourite type of bird or animal in the still life. Make drawings of your still life. Draw

your still life in black and white only. Consider the different patterns and texture of the still life.

Use this drawing to make a lino-print or etching. Print an edition (number) of five or more and

handcolour one of your prints using coloured pencil or water-based paint.





UNKNOWN ARTIST [Published by the Committee of Direction of Fruit Marketing, Queensland] (left - right) Australian

Bananas; Pawpaws, captured sunshine; Pineapples, Natures Tonic c1940s colour process lithograph 95 x 68 cm City of

Townsville Art Collection

Look closely at these artworks. What is different or interesting about them? Describe the type

of artwork this is. Is it a painting? A drawing? A sculpture or a print? Describe the different types

of lines, colours and shapes you can see in these artwork. Do you think this artwork is old or

modern? Explain your answer.

Imagine eating a banana, a pineapple or a pawpaw. What do they smell like? What do they taste

like? What feels smooth? Which fruit feels rough? Describe your favourite fruit or vegetable.

Draw your favourite fruit or vegetable and use the drawing to design a poster that makes people

want to eat this food. Consider the colours, shapes and words that you use to design your

poster. Use complementary colours to make your poster stand out.

Use computer technology to create your poster design. Scan drawings or take digital

photographs of your favourite fruit or vegetable. Use a computer program to design an A4

poster. Experiment with different colours, arrangements and fonts. Print out your design and

display your work as a class. What is the most popular fruit or vegetable in the class?

The artworks on this page advertise fruit. Where else do you see advertisements? Look through

magazines and newspapers and cut out advertisements that advertise food or fruit. Are the

foods healthy? Describe the colours, shapes and words used in the advertisements.

Research the artists and artwork of the Pop Art movement, in particular investigate Andy Warhol.

Discuss what made his artwork so unique and unusual. Why do you think Warhol selected

commonly available objects? What did his use of repetition achieve? Do you see any social

comment in Warhol’s work? What products do you think Warhol might represent if he created

artworks today and why? Discuss the artist’s approach to materials and techniques. How has

his artwork been made? Describe the screenprinting process. Present your research in a poster,

Powerpoint or multimedia presentation.

Choose two everyday food items - one a healthy object and one not so healthy. Draw a number

of still life sketches of your two food objects. Use these drawings to design two artworks that

you can develop into screenprints. Remember your design needs to be cut into stencils and

where possible contain no more than 4 colours. Print an edition (number) of five or more, each

time experimenting with different colours. Exhibit your prints all together in a row or group.






Ruth Downes was born in Sydney in 1954. She studied interior design at the National Art

School, Sydney, graduating in 1975. Downes has worked as an artist at the Australian Museum

in Sydney and since 1988 has run her own business in public artwork, visual identity, exhibition

and graphic design.

Between 1979 and 1986 Downes tutored in exhibition, furniture and interior design in the Faculty

of Architecture at the University of Sydney. During this period she also studied traditional

Chinese architecture and landscape architecture in China.

Since 1986 Downes has undertaken a number of major public art commissions throughout

New South Wales. Some of her permanent public art works include a wrought steel sculpture

and mosaic at the Charles Street Wharf, Parramatta 1996; concrete acoustic walls along the

M4 motor-way, 1998; a stainless steel layered relief sculpture under James Ruse Drive bridge in

Parramatta, 1998; and a water feature for Bicentennial Park, Homebush Bay, Sydney 2000.

Ruth Downes lives and works in Sydney.


While developing my public artworks, I learnt the value of accessibility - that my sculptures should

positively enliven and enrich our daily lives.

This sense of ‘daily life’ led me to look at the rituals in all our lives.

Domestic paraphernalia has also absorbed and fascinated me, shared and familiar objects

that could touch a diverse audience. I have enjoyed generating a sense of fun and humour by

amalgamating unexpected materials, techniques and words.

-Ruth Downes 2001-


1954 Born in Sydney


1972-1975 National Art School, Sydney. Dip.Int.Des. ASTC.


2001 Peoples Choice Prize, National Sculpture Prize and Exhibition

National Gallery of Australia, ACT


Lunch for the Trades

2010 Cairns Regional Gallery, QLD

2010 Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, QLD Play lunch, Annual

Children’s Exhibition

2009 Manning Regional Art Gallery, Taree, NSW

2008 Harvey Bay Regional Gallery, QLD; Port Macquarie Regional

Gallery, NSW

2007 Manly Art Gallery and Museum, NSW; Gold Coast City Art Gallery,


Tea Party in the Mayoral Garden

2007 Araluen Galleries, Alice Springs, NT; Gold Coast City Art Gallery,


2005 Maitland Regional Art Gallery, NSW; Coffs Harbour Regional

Gallery, NSW

2005 Cowra Art Gallery, NSW; Manly Art Gallery and Museum, NSW

2004 Port Macquarie Regional Gallery, NSW; Wagga Wagga Regional

Art Gallery, NSW

2003 Maroondah Art Gallery, Melbourne, VIC; NERAM, Armidale, NSW

2002 Embassy of Australia, Washington DC, USA [sponsored by

Macquarie Bank and NGA]

2002 Australian Ambassador’s Residence, Washington DC, USA

2002 Australian Consulate General, New York, USA


2006 Maunsell Wickes Gallery, Paddington, NSW

2005 Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, NSW

2003 & 2004 Defiance Gallery, Sydney, NSW

2003 Rockhampton Regional Gallery, QLD

2002 SOFA [International Sculpture, Object & Functional Art Fair],

Chicago, USA

2002 Snyderman/Works Gallery, Philadelphia PA, USA

2001 National Sculpture Prize and Exhibition, National Gallery of

Australia, ACT


2005 Kate Buckingham ‘The national sculpture prize’ Antiques & Art

68th edition

2002 Lauren Martin ‘Stirring originaliTea’ The Sydney Morning Herald

Feb 27 p.7 2002

2002 Benjamin Haslem ‘Sculptor takes top prize for populari-tea’ The

Australian Feb 27

2002 Louise Martin-Chew ‘Rebirth of Sculpture in Australia’ Art &

Australia Vol 40/1

2002 Margaret Meagher ‘On being ARTea’ State of the Arts May-Aug


2002 Meredith Hinchliffe ‘Tea Party’ Object No40 p.15

2002 Serena Lei ‘Tea is her bag’ The Washington Diplomat July p.4

2001 Bruce James ‘When heavy metal carries no weight’ Sydney

Morning Herald Dec 5


2004-08 Parramatta Mall and Main St; balustrades, planter boxes, tree


Winner of 2007 AILA NSW Greenspace Award

2007 24 Hunter St, Parramatta; commercial glazing/awning structurepublic


2006 Manly Council, Market Lane; mural

2006 The Dominion, 31 Hassall St; Parramatta, floodgates-public


2005 HMAS Parramatta Memorial, Queens Wharf Park, Parramatta

2000 Roads and Traffic Authority/State Wide Roads;M4 Motorway,

Parramatta to Penrith; 650 x10m acoustic walls

1997 Sydney Water, James Ruse Drive Bridge, Parramatta; relief


1996 Parramatta Council, Heritage Centre; terrazzo floor

1996 Parramatta Council, Charles Street Wharf; steel sculpture &


1995 Department of Defence, Pitt Street head office; atrium artwork

1994 Parramatta Council, Parramatta Mall; in ground glass mosaic,

1988 Australian Bicentennial Authority; ‘Bicentennial Look’ design,

Sydney City buildings and street decorations



Lunch for the Trades

This is a tribute to those who work in the trades - a recognition of talents and expertise

undervalued in our society. This cafeteria style spread of constructed ‘meals’ is a play

on the language and visual delights of modern cuisine intersected with images of food

wrought by each trade.

Each meal assemblage employs the specific materials of a particular trade. There is a

huge diversity and unexpected beauty in these materials, a beauty that can transcend

their utilitarian function. The skills, techniques and dexterity of the trades are enormous

yet are often derided as old-fashioned, mechanical and prosaic.

Much of their work is private and hidden, or contributes to a greater whole that is not

immediately discernable. Food has become another range of consumable ‘products’.

We live in an age of food creation, artificial enhancement and uniquely personalized

meals for every physical type, health condition, lifestyle or profession.

Our obsession with food as entertainment has led to the creation of meals tailor-made to

satisfy our increasing demands for visual excitement, novelty value and infinite choice.

Today, ‘what we do’ defines us more than ever before, so this culinary reflection of daily

toil reinforces a sense of self in an unexpected yet celebratory way. The cafeteria setting

has an unaffected production-line quality, appropriate for a work-a-day meal.

- Ruth Downes 2008 -

(clockwise) Ruth Downes MECHANIC’S Minestrone Soup, 2007, Hub cap, car parts & tools, silicone.

Ruth Downes PRINTER’S Sushi Rolls, 2007, Typesetting blocks, rock maple, handmade paper.

Ruth Downes UPHOLSTERER’S Coconut Torte, 2007, Coconut fibres, satin, vinyl, foam, trim.

Ruth Downes TILER’S Pad Tile, 2007, Tiles, cross spacers, trowels, abrasive.






Ruth Downes CARPENTER’S Burger ‘n’ Chips, 2007, Timber, MDF, nails and grinding disks.

Describe the different shapes and textures you can see in this sculpture.

What do you think this artwork is made from?

Imagine eating this artwork. Make a list of words to describe what you think it would taste like.

Discuss why you think the artist has made a meal out of timber?

Appropriate (borrow) the style of Ruth Downes still life. Make a plate of chips and hamburger

using ONE new medium or material. For example use lego, cardboard or sticks and leaves.

Make a sculpture of your favourite meal on a paper plate using found and recycled materials.

Exhibit your sculpture to the class. What do you notice about the sculptures and favourite foods

represented? Are they similar or varied? What is a popular food?

Discuss in a group what it means to be a tradesman. Make a list of all the different trades

available. Find out if anyone’s mum or dad is a tradesman.

Choose one type of trade. Consider the materials and tools each tradesman uses and design an

artwork that depicts an evening meal.

Visit the exhibition and see if you can match each of Ruth Downes’ sculptures with a trade.

Compare the different artworks in the exhibition.

Complete an artwork analysis on your favourite Ruth Downes’ Lunch for the Trades sculpture.

Discuss the artist’s approach to materials and techniques. Investigate the tools that may have

been used to make this artwork and what special techniques may have been needed.

Refer to the title of the artwork and others in this exhibition. What do you think is the artists intention?

What is the subject matter of this artwork?

Explain how this work is a creative interpretation of a trade and the ingredients of the ‘meal’ a

representation of the techniques and skills of the relevant trade.

Consider how the artist has displayed her sculptures - setting the works into a cafeteria style

layout. Explain why you think Ruth Downes has done this. How does it help to communicate her


Discuss how you think the artist transports and tours her artworks? Consider the design of

packaging and crates for this exhibition. What complications or issues does the artist need to

consider? Explain your answer with sketches and diagrams.



Tea Party

While developing my public artworks, I became exposed to not only the diversity of peoples’

needs and aspirations, but also for their desire to belong in their community. I learnt the value of

accessibility - that my sculptures should positively enliven and enrich our daily lives.

This sense of ‘daily life’ led me to look at the rituals in all our lives. Domestic paraphernalia

has also absorbed and fascinated me, shared and familiar objects that could touch a diverse


It soon became apparent that the rituals surrounding tea offered a vibrant and cohesive theme.

They also proved a rich artistic vein to mine. The personal and intimate nature of the drinking

vessel, ‘the tea cup’, and its supportive partner ‘the saucer’ was my ideal starting point.

From here I ranged far and wide, exploring the imagery of tea cups, the sayings and folklore

associated with tea, playing with language as much as with materials. I have enjoyed generating

a sense of fun and humour by amalgamating unexpected materials, techniques and words.

Each of the forty completed works or ‘characters’ has developed a striking individuality, yet when

assembled as a group at a Mayoral Tea Party they represent a community not unlike our own.

Just as in any social setting the guests gravitate to where they feel comfortable – the extroverts

take centre stage while the remainder seek out compatible souls.

-Ruth Downes 2008-

The Tea Party exhibition features forty-four miniature sculptures of teacups, saucers and spoons

and are all based on a play of the word ‘tea’, for example Mourning Tea is a cup fashioned out

of black veiling. AmnesTea makes a cup and saucer form from the iconic wire-wrapped candle

of Amnesty International’s logo. Tea Party is whimsical, clever, witty and most especially will

make people smile.

Ruth Downes Amnestea, 2007, candle and barb wire.

Ruth Downes Frivolitea, 2007, party poppers.

Ruth Downes Mourning Tea, 2007, wire, material, flower and beads.

Ruth Downes Electricitea, 2007, copper wire and electrical wire.





Ruth Downes English Breakfast Tea, 2007, Mixed media.

Look carefully at this artwork. Describe the different objects and materials you can see in this


What do you think this artwork is made from? Do you think the food is real?

Imagine eating this artwork. Make a list of words to describe what you think it would taste like.

Discuss why you think the artist has made a teacup like this? What is the title of this artwork?

Visit the exhibition and look carefully at all of the Tea Party teacups. What is different or unusual

about them?

Make a list of as many different words you can think of that contain the letters ‘tea’, ‘tee’, ‘ty’ or ‘T’.

Choose your favourite word.

Appropriate (borrow) the style of Ruth Downes’ teacups. Make a tea cup sculpture using

materials that best suit your chosen word. For example; teeth, teach, pretty.

Exhibit your sculpture to the class.

Visit the Tea Party exhibition and look closely at Ruth Downes’ tea cups. Discuss the artist’s

approach to materials and techniques. Investigate the tools that may have been used to make the

artwork and what special techniques may have been needed.

Refer to the title of the artwork and others in this exhibition. How do they relate to each artwork?

What is interesting or clever about the titles?

Consider how the artist has displayed her tea cup sculptures. How does it help to communicate

her ideas?


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