Tea pots for two come from unusual collaboration

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Bright polished 24 ct gold plating with red gum handles

Craft / “The Teapot Project”, Craft ACT, North Building, London Circuit, Civic, until December 14. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.

A set of metalsmithing tools led to the collaborative “Teapot Project” and Canberra-trained metalsmith Oliver Smith was the go-between. Hendrick Forster (Victoria) was asked by a friend if he knew anyone who could use a set of tools which had been inherited but not needed.

He wanted the tools to go to a good home. Forster contacted Smith who immediately thought of Kenny Yong-Soo Son (NSW) who travelled to regional Victoria to collect the tools.

The two metalsmiths discovered they had much in common, despite their differences in age and background.

Both had had rigorous training – Forster in Germany and Son in Korea. They share similar values about hand-working and the importance of the handmade, and their knowledge of metals. After discussion, sharing food and ideas, they decided to embark on a project to design and make 30 teapots – all the same size and form and from brass – in effect a small production line, with numbered editions. They agreed to combine industrial digital precision and hand making.

Difference in each vessel is defined by the surface treatment and the materials used for the handles.

Linished black nickel plating with black acrylic handles

In his catalogue essay, Oliver Smith says that “both artists approach the production of objects with the sensibilities of an artisan with the problem-solving abilities of a designer.” Each has brought his own perceptions to the project.

The artists discussed each element of the design – the short downward end of the spout and the handles which was settled after experimentation. The teapots are nine-sided, an unusual number for a vessel – there are no parallels.

The relationship was more than a mentor and mentee. The project has been about exchange of skills and techniques and about learning. Both artists were students and both teachers,

Each teapot embodies so much more than a vessel to make a humble cup of tea. They are comfortable and easy to handle. The lid lifts off easily to reveal a stainless steel basket to hold the tea leaves – eliminating the need to turn the pot upside down for emptying and thereby risking damager.

Twenty of the 30 teapots are being exhibited in Canberra.  As a “product” it will be a question of personal choice of combination of surface and handle for each viewer.

This was a valuable project bringing together two artists. A video shows each of the processes, adding to viewers’ knowledge of the processes of making.



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Helen Musa
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