Heat, Mix, Repeat

Heat, Mix, Repeat (formerly Make me a cup of tea) is a year long project that is part performance documentation, part journal of conversations over a cup of tea.  The tea here is a social medium used for varied investigations of the body, identity, gender, community, the domestic, the sacramental, economics, politics, and the environment.  Paintings are sometimes informed by these encounters.

Peppermint oil – I have used these for some time now. They offer considerable relief from IBS symptoms, especially cramps.  The only problem this time was the delivery. It was only after tracking the item late in the evening that I read “handed to resident”.  We eventually found them in the flower bed by the front door.

Coffee in the prettiest ‘greenhouse, #london, #weekending. Your content is exceptional! It needs to be seen by more people, I can help you with it. Please check out the link in my bio for more details.  Viola tricolor on the cake, yum. Were you adventurous enough to eat them too?

4 Mar:  David asks God before his death: Surely You desire truth in the inmost being; You teach me wisdom in the inmost place. 7Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones You have crushed rejoice.…King James Bible Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.  Hyssop: Agastache foeniculum – lower species of giant hyssops

That pool, that huge Russian massaging you, but then you would leave feeling incredible.  I wonder if it still looks like that.  For the every man, to keep them clean and healthy and serene.  The Russians believed that the banya had miraculous healing benefits, because of the speeding up the circulation, boosting the immune system, if you are coming down with something, it would help you get it out of the system quicker, if you already have something, it would get rid of it faster.  It speeds up metabolism.

The community getting together.  When we were little we would bathe at the public bath only once a week. It would be rows of taps in a huge open space, tiled in white and women of all shapes and sizes would come out scrubbing and chatting.  Come to think of it, it must have been a very body-positive experience, seeing different body types and being ok with that

Just warning you, because of my fair skin, I get really red, purple, do don’t panic, all the blood flowing to the surface.

Oh lovely, oh, that’s really really nice. That’s heavenly. This is very luxurious.

Gardening as a form of owning nature.  Interesting to observe the divide in values between generations from focus on tangible land, caravan, garden in front of it with it’s lovely fence, etc to experiences of living, and communicating immersing in the culture.  If you want to get political, this fear of otherness. Whereas the world has been observed to erase and take out of focus all sorts of boundaries, gender, cultural, geographical.

In order to stay focused though, shall we focus on our understanding and relationship with nature through gardens. Gardening as owning nature is particularly embraced in English culture, a fascinating story humans tell themselves about that it means for them to be within the little bit of nature they shaped for themselves. Although even those can get political with some plants being immigrants valued for their exotism or adopted natives that turn out to be pretty recent arrivals, with the boundaries of who appropriated what blurring and crisscrossing more each day.  Indeed nature does not abide by our boundaries and proves it to us at every opportunity.  In fact when you walk around the neighbourhood around Columbia market, you can really see people adopting these huge exotic plants, mostly of which arrived from Africa, they are so out of context.

The illusion of control that cultivating your own garden, can break apart very quickly under outside influence, eroding fences, decaying, dying and regenerating itself again.

Centre Park is another form of shaping nature in a safe, pleasing to the eye, available to cycle everywhere around. I painted this fake beach that I visited on one of the two holidays, none for which I paid myself. On one occasion were at the pool that had something like a bubble over it. So it looked like you were outside but you were not.

Something sugary. Something to power through, mental energy and a breakthrough. Where do you get the energy?
Tescos: Something Cadbury’s.  Buttons or Twelve.  No Green and Black or anything like this.
In our office they make his huge cafetieres of coffee and it’s like rocket fuel, really thick, never stops me from sleeping.  Also they put out these little bowls of candy, with the cashew nuts, the percy pigs and the buttons, and you would help yourself.  It’s all gone by the end of the day.  There have been days I stayed late at work and been going through drawers looking for other people’s sweets and biscuits out of sheer hunger.  A friend of a friend works at Facebook and they have an ice-cream bar at their cafeteria with all the toppings one can ever imagine, and there is also a doughnut bar, my friend could have spent the whole day there. But this is the idea, they don’t really want to you leave.  They also have sleeping pods, working people through the night.

It’s not so much a ritual as a placebo effect – I actually drink lots of water, cold , warm too – that’s more satisfying, and apparently hydrates you quicker, because your body has to warm up the water to body temperature, ice cold water does not hydrate you as quickly.  If I feel all over the place the water sometimes keeps you centred in a way.  The process of getting away from your desk to get some water is refreshing in itself, and then you might bump by the water cooler into someone that’s not working with you, have a bit of a chat that gives you that” “This is not the end of the world” feeling.  After spending 90% of my day sitting at my desk answering emails, not even the things that I need to be doing…

We have pilates in our office on Thursday afternoons. In the mornings I would say “I can’t go, I am too busy” and then after forcing myself out there, I go: “Why would not want to go”. Just giving myself that extra hour, getting away from your desk makes me so much more productive afterwards. … Sometimes I just take myself to the toilet and sit the for a few minutes seat down and on my phone, when I can’t deal with what’s going on, not to talk to anyone. When you are in a daze and need to get away from your desk.  If you are at your desk the incoming emails swallow you and you want to disconnect.  Just focusing on one task, switching off emails is a bliss. Sometimes I can’t even go to the lunch room sometimes because I really need to be on my own.

They kept extending the building and just adding more desk space, but this new space is not allowed to turn into another work space, it has a kitchen.
Now in our office we have organised tea breaks at 11 am and 4 pm. I missed one today, because I had to leave early, but it’s really nice to know they exist. Everybody now has tea together, and people also eat their lunch together, whereas before people would eat all around the building. It’s so much nicer.

Our office windows face the canal. We had a day off last week and we walked from Angel past Haggerston and went into Victoria Park. It’s such a lovely walk but can be quite perilous with the cyclists. What time of the day did you go on there? It was gorgeous no matter what.

The most memorable hot drink that I ever had was it Columbia. Sorry, it’s about coffee. So we were driving in the mountains on that driving/hiking trip and having an amazing day and saw this sign on the side of the road that said coffee. So we knocked on this door and a really old guy came out of his house, and brought some beans to this heavy duty grinder inside his work bench and ground the beans in front of us, then shuffled on into the house and after about 10 minutes he came back with a cup of coffee that was the most amazing cup of coffee I ever had. And we sat with him by the side of the mountain in this beautiful garden for about two hours, chatting in Spanglish. He must have grown the coffee inside his garden, the region is known as the coffee heartland … I still remember now how it tasted, the flavour, even through it’s been three years. Can’t exactly repeat this at home, but trying to feel that relaxed is something I quote often do. That feeling of being carefree on the holiday with nothing to do but to drink coffee in the garden.

I’ve heard a lot of people go foraging near the Hackney Marshes near Clapton, near where my house is. There is to be a lot of Apples on the Green Way, you know when you go down the canal, instead of going towards Clapton, you go towards the Mills, you turn left, it goes along the edge of the Olympic park. As soon as you turn off into there, there are three or four apple trees there. They are not good for eating, really woody and sour, , a bit too hard, but brilliant for cooking into a pie, chop them up and boil with sugar. There is a peach tree, with small peaches, it may be an apricot because it’s so small, on a yellow side. People just go past them, they don’t realise there are there or what they are looking at.  Blackberries were really good this year because of the weather, they were really sweet. I feel like I ate a lot of blackberries. Last summer went to this stately home with a country garden, which had a huge ancient mulberry tree.  We ate it straight off the tree, you can’t get them any fresher. The juice was running off out elbows. After it we looked like we just murdered someone, it was a good day, and totally worth the ten pounds to get in. We easily ate more then ten pounds worth of mulberries there, if you just went to Sainsbury’s and bought the amount. Apples and pears grow well. Sloe berry, I make sloe gin with those, they are growing in Hackney Marshes, but I have not been able to find them.  Also elderflower – there is lots of elderflower in London. I’ve had some elderflower champagne, but never managed to make any myself.

I am from South Africa, where redbush tea is native, it only grows there. People say it gives them very vivid dreams.  There is a funny thing, I used to drink lot of it, and I had some really memorable dreams and people said it’s rubbish, but when I stopped drinking it the dreams went away.  Maybe it effects only some people.  I say try it and see what it does to your dreams.

Sometimes things never taste the same.  We’ve just been to Morocco and they have there lots of mint tea.  We tried to recreate it when we got back but it never tastes the same.  It’s just black tea, mint and sugar, brown sugar I think.  Do you recon there was a rosemary in, just fresh brunch steeping in the pot. Most of the times they bring extra sugar to top it up.  It’s called Berber tea, after the nomadic desert dwellers in North Africa.  They call it Berber whiskey, the cheesy name they use because they don’t drink alcohol there.

Nov: Oxo cubes – boiled chicken bones in a broth were used as remedy against cold. Because when a student she did not have the money for chicken, she would use oxo cube tea for her cold and it worked for her.  Imagine making a painting of that? A chicken carcass – brilliant.

I have a black coffee every morning before breakfast and before I got to yoga practice. Mysor yoga, like ashtanga.  The idea is you go and do a series of sequences every morning, unless it’s full or new moon, which is on tonight, because it affects your head, I am not very sure of the exact details.  While the sun is rising I do sun salutations and then all the sequences.  You are meant to do it up to 6 days a week.  You practice it with people.  And it’s in the dark, there are no electric light.  You do the sun salutations in silence.  You just hear everybody breathing. That’s amazing.  The teachers are really good, there is no verbal, only physical adjustment, so they kind of touch and push you into a shape, very precise.  It’ a very physical exercise.  You come out completely soaking wet.  Completely wet. You need a shower.  You’ve been doing it three years.  I do it like three months.  It’s really hard to do it, especially in London.  It impacts your social life.  You have to make up at 6 basically.  You can get up 6:30.  Depends how close you are to your yoga studio I am very close to my yoga studio. I can be there in like 5 minutes. But that’s the coffee that kicks me into gear.  Without the coffee in the morning I am completely useless.  I buy it from my friend who has this coffee grinding business called Modern Standard Coffee.  It’s really good.  She buys it directly from the grower.  It’s very physical and hard work but getting a hard pose right translates into this euphoria. It’s a ritual that can be practiced on your own, i learned fit from a french teacher in Tel Aviv and practiced it for 4 years nearly every morning ever since.
It’s like detoxing your body in a way, yes, by timing the intake of exercise and caffein. =

There is this woman I work with, she drinks her tea really weak. I asked her once why she does it and she said, the rest of my life and personality is so intense, I like this one thing to be weak. It was such a revealing statement.  Made me see her in a different light.  I wonder if not for tea, we would not have that this frank conversation.  But again maybe she wanted me to hear this to present herself in this light. But again, she can be ruthless in business, so I suppose it would not be necessary to reiterate.

Tea is one of the substances that you use to top up your energy levels.  My mother was observing in modern times ours generation uses these substances differently, in a way we know exactly when its effects start, like in a sugar rush from a cola, or a caffeine high, then time it so when you reach the slump, you are ready for a glass of wine, etc.

I swim, I go to Lido at London Fields or at Hampstead Heath.  But not in the winter.  I’ve got some friends who go there right now, but not me.  Lido is heated, but it’s only warm in specific areas where the heat is coming out, it’s uneven.

I am a warm water person.  I love a good bath.  As hot as I can stand, scolding hot.  The plant I associate with this ritual is eucalyptus.  The reason being is that when I was growing up my Norwegian grandma used to have a eucalyptus plant in her bathroom.  The moment I smell it, it relaxes me. Once you step out of a boiling bath and get that rush of cold air, I feel so good. My grandmother was into alternative medicine, she grew up in Norway, when she was young there, if you had a throat infection, you’d be taking propolis. She used to tell me it was coca cola to drink it. She would dilute into alcohol and did not taste very nice but it worked. My grandma would always done things like that. She is into saunas as well. She keeps strict vegan diet and was into veganism way before veganism became veganism. It’s quite interesting thinking how different cultures embrace how body works.
It’s a mind-body situation , all those ritual you employ to balance out your mind. I am definitely into healthy body healthy mind person. And that goes back thousand of years, definitely does works for her, she still jumps around like sprint chicken. In the evening it’s my unwinding ritual in the evening. I would stick the bath tub as hot as can be and go into . By the time I am back from the dog walk (it’s a French bulldog) the temperature is absolutely perfect, just jump into it.  You have it figured out.  I lived for so long without out it at university , it missed having bath.

My Ukrainian housemate used to grow komboocha under the stairs in bowl in a dark place and that used to scare me a lot.  This living thing, fungus floating in a jar that was going in there . It hurts your stomach and effects it in a weird way. You feed it black sugary tea.  The thing that grows on top is called scooba.  That mushroom looked so space age.  Tastes pretty vinegary.

When we felt poorly, our parents would give us squash – a hit of sugar, like cola.  Themselves they would not give us tea.  But I learned from my mom how to make a proper cup of tea – with lots of milk, quite strong, never pour milk before you take out the bag.  My father would be the one who would most likely go make a cup of tea.  It was a sort of coping mechanism for him.  If there was some drama in the house, or an issue to deal with, that was his coping ritual.  Also for compassion reasons, and hospitality, if anyone enters the house, first thing my parents would offer would be a cup of tea.  Later on I learned that there were different ways of making yourself a cup, not just the way my mom made, I assumed that was the only way, but as I entered the uni, I learned I quite liked the tea strong and with less milk.
I’ve heard somewhere that the absolute polite tone to pour tea would be to start with milk. Apparently the authentic bone china would crack if scalding hot water was poured into it first, therefore to preserve it, milk was used first. And only the people who owned the finest china, would do it in this order.  So in a way that was a class differentiation, whether you start with water or with milk.  Like the super strong builder’s tea.  I heard the Queen likes her tea very weak. I wonder if its an elite thing – having a weak drink, to get the subtlest of tastes.

 

I am not into sweet stuff, grew up with a taste for non-sweet things. So I like my tea just like this. I had a phase of drinking rooibos, because it has the taste of Asian tea and you could drink it like green tea by itself but it did not have the caffeine, that’s where I settled for a long time. There are various kinds of traditional Japanese teas: hojicha, sencha – that is quite strong, genmaicha – rice tea, and mugicha – the cereal tea, a summer favourite.

In order to make a good cup of tea, you’d pour the hot water into this special pot before you pour it into the tea pot to cool off. For your second and third cup your water can get hotter and hotter. You normally drink from a type of porcelain cup called yunomi and a saucer – chataku – that’s usually made of wood or bamboo. I also pull out my grandmother’s tea set when I want to show slightly more care.

As I grow older and further apart from the family, drinking it the traditional way helps me preserve my very Japanese upbringing. My mother was one of very few Japanese people in Watford at the time, so she was asked to do these tea ceremonies at the local library. Sometimes I would get asked to help out, do things like hold up her kimono and instruct on proper ways to drink tea: turn cups three times, drink two or three and half sips… at the last sip you were supposed to do that special noise – all those things that I was asked to do after I got home from school. I’d go help out and then go back to watching my cartoons on BBC.

​…

There is not much of a ritual here, it’s just an old boring cup of tea, PG tips with a splash of milk.

-Well. It depends on perspective.  My grandfather used to drink tea with milk. He was the only man in Zhmerynka to do so. I found it so exotic.  And you find it mundane. What is a ritual? Something you do every day. I suppose it’s different from a ceremony where one makes a special occasion.

-Speaking of special occasions: around Christmas time my mother used to make us Orange Pekoe tea. Why is it even called that? Is there any orange in it? It tasted so rich and special…

…what is this book: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher next to the teapot?’

-Oh, it’s just another gift I got. She did not actually get assassinated. Want some honey with your tea?

Have you tried it? It’s good to start off with three minute exercise, it’s easy and it’s good to set yourself challenges. You don’t have to listen to the New Age soundtrack, or do anything strange, just focus on your breath. It’s really about you taking the time to let go of your thoughts. You may have thoughts, your mind might wander, all you have to do is come back to just your breathing.

The power of meditation has been proven. It’s going to make people more productive…

…Fitter, happier, more productive, just like in the Radiohead song.”

You would be in Silicon Valley and everybody would say, let’s go for coffee and then they would go out to Starbucks with their reusable cups and order a blend of chamomile, rose petals.

​…

I went for the residency to this little town Pizo in Calabria, making music, it was sound based project, got some nice tea and also got the dog. Giuseppe who was running the residency recommended to buy the tea from the women who only sell the malva and nothing else. He would say: “If you do malva for a few days, you will be chilled out like I am.” The chamomile from Calabria comes in little bundles of stalks. You’d mix it with chamomile and it has this very relaxing effect.

That bundle looks like a dog treat a bit. Could use it for my dog – to get him chilled on chamomile.

When I was a university has struggled with anxiety, so the doctor told me to limit my caffeine intake to my cup of coffee a day. I decided to produce artwork around this restriction, to which this moment became a daily ritual. Every time I had a coffee I would record the

conversations, my thoughts or what I read between that first and last sip. I would then write this text back into the cup itself, with a special Pebeo ceramic pen that I would later set in the oven. This process would mean the ink would not disappear in the dishwasher or from the liquids the vessel held. These cups, now repurposed into artworks, were returned the cafe to be used alongside unaltered normal cups. If a customer, by chance, was served a drink in

one of my cups the text within the vessel would be slowly revealed the more they drank. People would buy coffee and might get one of my cups or might not. I would sit there for hours and watch people read and come across the art.

​…

My mother always had herbs in stock, prepared herself usually. We would bring them from our trips to the Carpathians as a memory and as a remedy for later. She would use herbs first before any medicine unless I’d have a very high fever… I would make the rosehip tea myself. It’s not like you could go out and get a snack out on the street somewhere those days, it was in the late eighties, I could go into the cupboard, grab a handful of those and boil them in water by myself.

I bought two things: redbush and chai in these tiny jars, this is from when we had our wedding a little while ago-

-Oh, congratulations!

Thanks. Yes, we had them as favors. So we go together with friends and made them ourselves over the weekend. And my uncle who has a bee farm keeps bees so he made honey jars. Look, my uncle even put our photo on the label here…

I’ve been to a wedding where they gave mini bottles of vodka as gifts.

-Oh, no, we don’t do much alcohol in our family. I don’t do much caffeine either.  Redbush is the tea of our household, also because my mom’s from Zimbabwe. It’s normal to drink red tea and black tea there, people have it with milk if they want to, but I I am honey tea kind of person…

I went for the residency to this little town Pizo in Calabria, making music, it was sound based project, got some nice tea and also got the dog. The chamomile from Calabria comes in little bundles of stalks. You’d mix it with chamomile and it has this very relaxing effect.  Giuseppe who was running the residency recommended to buy the tea from the women who only sell the malva and nothing else. He would say: If you do malva for a few days, you will be chilled out like I am.

There is not much of a ritual here, it’s just an old boring cup of tea, PG tips with a splash of milk.

-Well. It depends on perspective.  My grandfather used to drink tea with milk. He was the only man in Zhmerynka to do so. I found it so exotic.  And you find it mundane. What is a ritual? Something you do every day. I suppose it’s different from a ceremony where one makes a special occasion.

-Speaking of special occasions: around Christmas time my mother used to make us Orange Pekoe tea. Why is it even called that? Is there any orange in it? It tasted so rich and special…

What is this book: The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher next to the teapot?

-Oh, it’s just another gift I got. She did not actually get assassinated. Want some honey with your tea?