Multi-media exhibition honours Shan Tuyết tea

June 11, 2018 - 09:00

The first multi-media exhibition featuring Shan Tuyết tea is giving visitors a chance to try a rare kind of Vietnamese tea with senses.

Natural: A photo by Nguyễn Tường Vân.
Viet Nam News

by Nguyễn Thúy Bình

HÀ NỘI — The first multi-media exhibition featuring Shan Tuyết tea is giving visitors a chance to try a rare kind of Vietnamese tea with senses.

Entitled Trà Art, the exhibition includes installations, drawings, animated movies, photography installations and music by six artists including Nguyễn Tường Vân, Nguyễn Quỳnh Phương, and Marcus Bowler, alongside Trần Thu Hằng, Ngô Hồng Quang and late illustrator and cartoonist Gerald Gorridge.

The exhibition is the fruit of a project initiated by photographer Vân who is a graduate of Gobelins Paris. Vân set up the Trà Art project when she was seeking inspiration for creative materials.  

"I found this small pack of tea called Shan Việt when I went to the market in Paris," Vân said. "It struck me as being beautiful and unique."

Abstract: An installation by Trần Thu Hằng. Photo Nguyễn Bình

After researching and tasting the tea for six months Vân began asking some of her artistic friends to join the project. The artists went to Cao Bồ Commune in Vị Xuyên District in of Hà Giang Province last September. They spent a week there meeting with Shan Tuyết tea makers.

Hà Giang is one of the oldest Shan Tuyết tea areas in Việt Nam. These tea trees’ buds and young leaves are covered in a thin layer of snowy hair, which gives it its name.

Vân built up a portfolio of photos and recordings of the ancient tea trees, outlining their identity, and collecting portraits of the people she met throughout the trips.

Detail: Another photo by Nguyễn Tường Vân

A screen showing the photos is guarded by dozens of transparent curtains, infused with Shan Tuyết tea leaves. Visitors must pass through the curtains, which diffuse the scent of the tea.

"I want the exhibition to inspire visitors, especially scientists, in the hope that they will do something to preserve primary tea forests in the country," Vân said.

An installation by Hằng, a sculptor and a graduate of the Việt Nam Fine Arts University, is also inspired by the trip to Hà Giang. She has created an installation in two parts, representing the terraced fields found in the northern regions.

The terraced fields are made from three layers of curtains, plaited by long bands of sponge which hang from the ceiling to the ground, creating a natural wavy affect. Visitors can walk through gaps in the curtains to reach the next layer of the installation. 

Tree roots are made from elastic tubes, stitched together to form branches of roots.

Remniscent: One of the last paintings by late artist Gerald Gorridge. Photo Nguyễn Bình

By coming to the exhibition visitors will have chance to see the last works produced by artist Gorridge, who passed away before finishing his final paintings. Seven of his drawings hang from the walls in bamboo frames, demonstrating his love for Việt Nam. 

"It is interesting to see artworks at an exhibition made by the artists I love," said visitor Nguyễn Duy Phương. "I think people will enjoy using technology to see art by Phương and Bowler."

Visitors can download the Zappar app on their phones to activate animations by scanning the paintings. Each painting comes with its own animation, providing some information about the Shan Tuyết tea. 

Phương and Bowler graduated from the Cambridge School of Arts, and Anglia Ruskin University, respectively. Phương is a 2D illustrator and animator in Canada and Bowler is a 2D and 3D animator in the UK. 

A musical composition by Ngô Hồng Quang will be dedicated to the natural landscapes of Hà Giang. The composition is mixed with sounds recorded in the province.

The exhibition will run at the French Cultural Centre, on 24 Tràng Tiền Street until July 9. — VNS