Whimsical tales of rituals of tea
By BELINDA SCOTT
IT may not quite be a tea party on the ceiling, a la Mary Poppins, but Ruth Downes' sculpture which comes to Coffs Harbour this week comes close to that level of whimsy.
Tea Party in the Mayoral Garden is the title of the exhibition which opens at the Coffs City Gallery on May 18. The installation includes 40 individual mixed media pieces surrounding the domestic ritual of tea.
"Each of the 40 completed works or 'characters' has developed a striking individuality, yet when assembled as a group at a mayoral tea party they represent a community not unlike our own," Ms Downes said.
Among the characters are 'cups and saucers' with names like GSTea, Frivolitea, Mintea, a cup and saucer made of Minties and Amnestea, a 'cup' made from barbed wire.
Originally a hit at the inaugural National Sculpture Prize in 2001, where it won the People's Choice award, Ms Downes' amusing work has since travelled far afield.
The Sydney artist, sculptor and interior designer will visit Coffs Harbour on Wednesday and Thursday for the opening of her exhibition and will also give a workshop for Gallery volunteers and talk to HSC stu- dents during her stay.