Mhairi Vari has created a site-specific commission to greet the winter chills. Relief, an oversized bronze-mesh tea bag filled with fresh Tetley tea leaves, sinks like a cushion into a snug bed of plastic containers arranged in a grid. It alludes both to the alleviation of pain and distress as well as the sculptural tradition of carving or moulding.
Exposed to the climate’s whim, the work comes to life. As the rain spits or pours, tea is made. The containers fill, creating forever-changing tea stains and natural aromas, accompanied by a rhythmic pitter-patter of rain or silence as the water evaporates. As a further twist, bronze, traditionally a sculptural medium associated with robust and solid forms, is used to create a work of lace-like delicacy, tea trickling from its fine weave.
This over-sized tea bag is best appreciated from the above, luring out workers in the offices around the plaza for an outdoor tea-break. But the work can be enjoyed from many viewpoints and angles. Casual passers-by are treated to a behind the scenes view of this constantly changing installation. Yet, this close, the form of the teabag is almost too large to be noticed immediately as Vari plays with scale, illusion and perception.
Relief is Mhairi Vari’s first commission for an exterior site. Cups of Tetley tea will be served at the private view. Special thanks to Mark Lawson, Worldwide Blending Manager for Tetley, who worked with the artist to create a blend of tea ideally suited to this outdoor installation.
Scottish-born, London-based artist Mhairi Vari holds a BA Hons Fine Art (First Class) from UCE Birmingham (2001), and a Postgraduate Diploma in Fine Art, Royal Academy Schools (2004). She has also worked as a stage-set designer, inspiring the interactive approach in her art.
She has won continuous awards from 2001 to 2004, including the Louisa Anne Ryland Award (2001); the Peter Rippon Award (2003); and the Patricia Turner Sculpture Prize, RBS Bursary Award and the Phoenix Foundry Award, all in 2004. Recent group shows include Artissima 11, in Turin with DomoBaal Gallery (2004); Space Case at Meals and SUV’s gallery in Dalston (2006); and at the New Generation Arts Festival in Birmingham (2006). Mhari Vari is represented by DomoBaal. www.domobaal.com