DEGREE SHOWS '08: Anyone For Tea?

Kedleston Road campus 504x257 DEGREE SHOWS '08: Anyone For Tea?

Date posted: 29 May 2008

It’s an art exhibit set to cause a real stir – but could the tea leaves have really predicted Vicky Sheward’s unique artistic talent?!

The University of Derby Fine Art student has laid on a traditional British tea party scene with a difference for an art exhibition – a complete suite of furniture coated in tea leaves!

The 21-year-old, from Yateley Avenue, Great Barr, Birmingham, is sure to generate the interest of art lovers at the University’s annual Arts, Design and Technology degree shows for final year students which begins at the University on Friday.

Her exhibit, entitled Equalitea, aims to capture the essence of the traditional British tea party and highlights how tea leaves were used as a cover for opium smuggling in 17th century as well as today’s inequality of the tea trade.

Vicky said: “I do like tea but the main reason for using tea as part of my final year project was because it is an interesting topic area. My display features a traditional tea party set up.

“Coating the furniture with tea leaves symbolises how opium was hidden in tea and smuggled into the country in the past.”

None of Vicky’s personal furniture was damaged during the making of her exhibit! It was instead all brought off e-Bay for £38. The display, based at our Markeaton Street site, features a table, chairs, a cake stand, crockery and even fondant fancy cakes all covered in tea.

She used PVA glue to coat the furniture before applying two layers of tea leaves over the entire surface of all of the exhibits. The first layer was economy tea, and the second layer of a more quality variety as it had a richer colour.

Vicky also says that the painstaking work, which began in January, highlights the inequality of the tea trade in this work, and the vital work of tea pickers who begin the process by picking the leaves.

In order to make the exhibit possible, teas and coffee specialists Stokes of Lincoln, based in Mint Lane, Lincoln, gave Vicky five kilograms of its most popular tea – Gold Medal Tea, for her work. One of the firm’s most famous drinkers includes King George VI who visited the cafe whilst based at RAF Cranwell in 1918.

A Stokes of Lincoln company spokesman said: “We were intrigued when Vicky contacted us. It’s fair to say we have never had a request for tea to be used as part of an art show but we were pleased to help as it contributes to a student’s final degree project and encourages new artistic talent. We are delighted with her final exhibit and it does show how versatile tea can be!”

Carl Robinson, Head of Fine Art at the University of Derby, said: “Vicky has created a unique exhibit for her final project. She has given a very interesting and quirky edge to an otherwise everyday setting of afternoon tea. She has created a coherent and strong piece of art.”

Degrees shows

Check out Vicky’s work and that of all of the other students exhibiting at our annual Degree Shows in Derby.

The event is a showcase of talent across the Faculty of Arts, Design and Technology, and will be hosted at our Markeaton Street site.

The degree shows 2008 will be officially opened by Debbie Williams, Chief Executive of E M Media, at the Private View evening on Friday 30 May 6pm – 9pm.

The shows will then be open for public viewing on Monday 2 June – Wednesday 11 June.

Weekdays: 10am – 4pm

Saturday: 11am – 3pm

Sunday: closed.

There’s also a Graduate Fashion Show at the Assembly Rooms in Derby on June 4, and a Film and Video Screening is on Friday 6 June at Markeaton Street.

For more information, to book tickets for any of the events and to see some of the student work, please visit the degree show website:


For more information about this news release, contact Deputy Head of Press and PR Simon Redfern on 01332 591942 or 07748 920038.

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