The elixir of life?

The tea-plant, a native of southern China, was known from very early times to Chinese botany and medicine… and was highly prized for possessing the virtues of relieving fatigue, delighting the soul, strengthening the will, and repairing the eye-sight. It was not only administered as an internal dose, but also often applied externally, in the form of a paste, to alleviate rheumatic pains. The Taoists claimed it as in important ingredient of the elixir of immortality. The Buddhists used it extensively to prevent drowsiness during their long hours of meditation.

Mug: from set of Do Not Alight Here.

Messenger exchange: with Kuei-ju, dear friend, former flatmate, resident of Taiwan and Chinese translator

Text: Lu Yu, The Classic of Tea: Origins and Rituals 1974 (quoted in Green Gold, Macfarlane and Macfarlane)


Tea stats



No one on earth drank tea a few thousand years ago. A few small tribal groups in the jungles of south-east Asia chewed the leaves of the plant, but that was the nearest anyone came to tea drinking. 2000 years ago it was drunk in a handful of religious communities. By a 1000 years ago it was drunk by millions of Chinese. 500 years ago over half the world’s population was drinking tea as their main alternative to water.

During the next 500 years tea drinking spread to cover the world. By the 1930s there was enough tea for 200 cups of tea a year for every person in the world. Tea is now more ubiquitous than any type of food or drink apart from water. Thousands of millions of cups of tea are drunk every day. In Britain, for example, 165 million cups of tea a day are drunk, an average of over 3 per person. This means that about forty per cent of the total liquid intake of the British population is in the form of tea.

Alan and Iris Macfarlane, Green Gold, published 2003


And I thought I was just buying crockery for my tea ceremony…

McKinley Tariff Act (1): Origin of the ‘FOREIGN’ marking:

On October 1st 1890 the Congress of the United States passed the so-called ‘McKinley Tariff Act’, a law that was introduced by the 25th President, William McKinley. This law not only imposed the highest tariffs that the United States had ever placed on imports, it also demanded that all items imported to the US, regardless of country of origin, had to be marked as ‘FOREIGN’. This act was revised in two main steps: the first revision followed prompt, replacing the ‘FOREIGN’ with the true country of origin, based on the fact that Great Britain had already forced Germany to use ‘Made in Germany’ for their goods.

markings with ‘FOREIGN’ were indeed officially dropped, however their use represented a perfectly legal possibility of avoiding a true country mark when the target country had outlawed the corresponding country of origin. People may instantly conclude that this regarded German items created during World War 2, but that was only rarely the case.

Instead of vanishing from sight, the ‘FOREIGN’ mark was actually used on and off ever since its introduction, with various countries either using it or allowing imports showing such a mark. For example, West German potteries during the early Mid-Century-Modern era actually marked ‘Foreign’ for export to countries like Hungary or Bulgaria (as Western goods were not taken very well behind the Iron Curtain) while the U.S. accepted ‘FOREIGN’ marked imports from the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War.

So the mere presence of a ‘FOREIGN’ mark says absolutely nothing about the age or the intended target market of an item, in fact these items require intensive research as to place them correctly. Don’t let yourself be fooled by sellers that claim a certain age (or country of origin) based simply on the presence of this mark.

From: porcelain marks and more dot com

Thinking laterally and vertically and conjuring new realities


This post also appears as an entry on The Red LineSouth East Dance‘s blog exploring dramaturgical thinking.


A desire to learn more about dramaturgical approaches and to test them out on the germ of an idea for a new work led me to this workshop organised by South East Dance. Through group activities we explored “the potential of language as a generative form” and I left Martin Hargreave’s workshop with many strategies for getting outside my own ‘natural’ processes, and for approaching my research in both a more frivolous, and voluminous way. Do lots. Discard later.

Richard Serra’s Verb List 1967-68 – which we employed (see photograph in Adrienne Hart’s blog post) – provides a useful metaphor for some of the tasks and approaches we undertook. You can think across the list both horizontally and vertically, or randomly, exploring the connections and contradictions between words and ideas, following fruitful correspondences, discarding others (for now).

A collaborative manifesto-writing task produced something for the idea I am researching. I find it fascinating that the words of others could help me to draw together, tease out and name some of the principles behind a work that is, for now, a rough muddle in my head. Especially since, up to now it has existed as a kind of out-of-focus image‑gallery.

Adding to the manifestos accumulating on The Red Line, here is the current iteration:


Manifesto for (Preparing to) Making Art with Guests 1

Be a Host (ess).

Take care of the space. Make it inviting.

Bring sustenance for you and your guests.

Create a convivial environment in which connections can emerge, listening can take place and the impossible can be imagined.

Imagine the impossible.


Collect and assemble starting points or puzzles for your guests.

Guide your guests through mapping, describing and articulating.

Assemble and use ordinary objects that excite you/them.

Make your guests Protagonists.

Do what you want.

Do what they want.


Listen to The Smiths.


Take things apart and remake them.

Make visible your Guests chameleon-like nature – their thick-and-thin skinned-ness.

Make a record of the record.


Give meaning and hope to frustration and suffering.

Louise Bourgeois


Reading through the first few entries about this workshop on The Red Line I would also like to steal (borrow/try for size) from a fellow artist who attended the Test workshop. I adopt a second set of principles for this work from Re‑Manifesto.


Manifesto for (Preparing to) Making Art with Guests 1.1

I am an acrobat of time.

Space has no meaning.

I’m a healer.


Professional Development supported through South East Dance and Jerwood Charitable Foundation Dramaturg in Residence Programme 2016/17.

Snöplog to screen in Chile

Private Cinema Installation at DFFUKIt seems that more intimate, monitor-based screenings are the popular choice for Snöplog.

After making an appearance in the Private Cinema Installation at DFFUK in London this summer, Snöplog will be screened at FIVC, Festival Internacional de Videodanza de Chile, in Santiago de Chile, this November.

The film will be part of the FIVC OFF selection, shown as an installation in the Centro Cultural de España for the four days of the festival, 24-27 November 2015.



IJSC vol 4 cover

The International Journal of Screendance Volume 4 is now online, including my essay

“Cutting across the century: an investigation of the close up and the long-shot in “cine-choreography” since the invention of the camera.”

Really looking forward to some fascinating reading material!

Do have a look and let me know your thoughts.