Malaysia-born artist and architect, ‘Red’ Hong Yi, has a penchant for creating art with unusual things. Among the list of objects, that she has used for her artwork, are bamboo sticks, flower petals and even coffee cup stains. For her latest project, Hong Yi used 20,000 brewed teabags, of different tints and shades, to craft a mesmerizing portrait of a local “Teh Tarik man”. Teh Tarik (meaning “pulled tea”) is a hot milky beverage commonly served at cafes and restaurants in Malaysia. Talking about the piece, the artist said:
I wanted to create a piece that reflected an everyday scene in Malaysia that reminds me of home. Teh Tarik (which means ‘pulled-tea’ in Malay) is a drink served in local coffeeshops (or kopitiams) that is sweet, frothy and milky, and is frothed up when tea is poured between two containers.
Hong Yi spent two whole months individually brewing each of the 20,000 teabags to varying degrees. According to her, steeping the bags in lesser and hotter water caused them to get more stained. Furthermore, of the 10 different tones of brown, the darker shades were developed using brown food dye. In order to create an intriguing layered effect, the artist stapled several pouches together and then, fixed them onto a wire mesh. Finally, the completed portrait, depicting a tea vendor preparing a cup of Teh Tarik, was suspended from a wooden frame.
Originally developed in Melbourne, Australia, the artwork has been transported to Davos in Switzerland for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
To know more about Hong Yi, head over to her official website.