Tea Treasures

Kim Schoenberger at her treadle sewing machine, Photograph by Lindsay Ham.

Tea Treasures

Sandra Conte


1 October 2013

Kim Schoenberger has a penchant for recycling and will show it at her solo exhibition in 2014. Currently working on a triptych of three x 50cm square latch hook mesh works containing 4032 holes, each requiring 1008 tea bags, Kim says, “Folk often find it intriguing when my artworks contain recycled tea bags, then come the questions – What, used tea bags? How do you use them? Why used tea bags? Wouldn't they tear? Do you use all of the tea bag, how do you dry them?”

“I first started working with recycled tea bags in 2002, which led to my solo exhibition ‘Expressions of Love’ in 2010 – eight years in the making. ‘Expressions of Love’ explores the connection between mother and daughter, grandmother and granddaughter, an unbroken chain of wisdom and knowledge shared across the generations. It looks at how that sharing was celebrated with a cup of tea and how the generations before us wouldn’t discard anything that would find a life in new ways. I created a quilt, made cushions, plaited a rag rug, I even knitted with them. Thousands of tea bags were collected and used, all sewn on my Singer treadle sewing machine given to me by my mother on my 16th birthday”.

“Working with the recycled teabags, utilising the skills that have been passed down to me, I was reminded of just how fragile the past is and how important it is to preserve these wisdoms for the future”.

“My late, dear mother, Rosemary, was the forerunner in collecting the used tea bags for ‘Expressions of Love’. This time, I extended my tea bag call to friends and family, and the wider community via email and social media. Rosebed St Gallery in Eudlo, Queensland, Australia, responded by extending my tea bag ‘call-out’ via the gallery e-newsletter and set-up a display in the gallery to which I have had an overwhelming response. Tea bag donations are coming in thick and fast, from far and wide and I now have three coastal collection points with libraries, galleries and even the local Kureelpa Spinners and Weavers group are collecting tea bags for me!”

“Selected artworks from my 2010 ‘Expressions of Love’ exhibition are currently on tour in a group exhibition entitled ‘Teasing the Domestic’ with the Artslink Queensland 2013-14 Touring Exhibition Program”. ‘Expressions Of Love II’, Kim Schoenberger solo exhibition will be at the Noosa Regional Gallery, January 22 to February 16, 2014.


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