Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Travelling Tea Set - 2009

Travelling Tea Set - Train journey from Glasgow to Leeds - Lois Whitehead - March 2009

'This Tea Set was designed to inspire conversation & bring people together.
A friendly gesture, that hopes to work as a tool to encourage social interaction and get the brain thinking a little.
Exchange stories, information and opinions happening over a cup of tea or coffee with a new acquaintance as you both make the same journey.'
- Taken from the handout sheet I wrote for the project.

Travelling on trains is part of my yearly routine. My Dad, Nick Whitehead, is the Leeds district secretary for ASLEF, the train drivers union, and because of this He and the members of his family are entitled to free train travel with a privilege pass. Each time you travel for free you have to fill in a box on your pass and you use this box as your ticket.
So train is my preferred method of transportation on long journeys and I travel down to Leeds every other month or so to see my family.
On this occasion there was a family party on Sunday the 16th that I wanted to attend, so i took the chance to try my Public Art Project out for the first time on the journey down.

I hopped on the Edinburgh bound train from Glasgow Queen Street with my Suitcase in tow.
The train was quite busy and I had to sit next to a woman in a two
seat section.
I offered her a cup of tea, but she seemed hesitant and so declined. She asked me about the project and eventually asked me the question "But how is that art?".

Coming from an institute where I am constantly surrounded by other artists and tutors who accept all the ideas as art without me having to explain why, I find it hard to understand when people from a none art background question my ideas.
I told her that the work was in the ideas. Hopefully that there were questions thrown up about social comfort levels, roles of the care and being cared for. That I want to open myself
up to disclosure and trust of the people I meet. She looked at me, smiled and returned to her book.

So I lost hope a little bit.

The next train I had to get was from Edinburgh to York. I was one of the first on the train and managed to secure myself a table seat with no-one else currently sat there.
Slowly people started boarding the train and sitting down, but no-one sat next to me.. And then..
Two men looked around anxiously for a seat..

"Are these seats taken..?" they asked.

"No, sit down" I ushered.

"Would you like us to move your case up on the storage for you?"

"Well actually, I was going to offer you a cup of tea.." I said as a threw the suitcase open revealing its luxurious contents.

And that was that, we were sat together enjoying tea, talking about my work, their jobs, where they grew up, families, relatives, friends, the recession, farms, car crashes, vegetarianism, ex boyfriends..

We had a thoroughly enjoyable train journey together and exchanged email addresses and have both being in touch to say thanks for the company.
The project will continue, hopefully later this week, as I ride the train to and from central station, to places such as Edinburgh and Ayr..

Images & Ideas : Lois Whitehead

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Cup Art - 2009

These are examples of some of the work I've been doing. I have been investigating the idea of creating comfort, and how through the level of comfort people are prompted into conversation and feel that they can open up. The idea of sitting down with a cup of tea whilst you clear your head and relax or coming in to someone's house for a cuppa and a chat was the first way i thought to start creating this comfort level. I started writing in the inside of teacups, writing personal stories from my life as a way of starting the idea of divulging personal information.

Images & Ideas : Lois Whitehead