Meet Me at the Upside Down Table
‘Meet Me at the Upside Down Table’
Tyler Moorehead, TYMO London, 2018. Plywood, recycled felt, vegetable tanned leather, rose brass drawer handles, vintage lace teapot covers, vintage lace and linen textiles.
WINNER ‘ART INSTALLATION OF THE YEAR’ Design in Mental Health 2019
Performative Live Art piece inspired by Japanese tea ceremonies and board game play. The piece draws on the 1906 text Book of Tea, by Okakura Kakuzo, which translates the key tenets of Tea master Sen no Rikyu’s 16th century ‘Tea -ism’ into English.
Drawing on the Japanese philosophy of tea as an intimate community encounter, the experience uses reflection, tactile materials and sensory stimulation to create a safe and uplifting ‘chance’ meeting, in which visitors as ‘guests’ speak freely with their host.
Designed as a site-specific installation in a disused cork factory - adjacent to a London Underground station, the work reached out to people living, working and passing through a cultural and commercial hub in London, SE1.
At the centre of the installation is a bespoke ‘tea table’ in the form of an esoteric board game, set amongst antique table linens, as artefacts of memory. Precious table linens also represent those special occasions at which bare tables, and personal truths, are often hidden beneath pristine cloths.
The table was inspired by origami, conceived as a personal item, and designed to function like a magical valise. It sits within a curated environment that is interactive, tactile and fragrant, to ease dialogue between guest and host. Handmade cards gently guide the discourse of the session.
As in Japanese ceremonies, the encounter nods to the guiding principles of harmony, respect, purity and tranquility, to encourage visitors to ‘cherish their unpolished selves’.
Slabs of plywood placed astride bales of antique and vintage table linens stand in for tea house benches. The seating design requires host and guest to work in harmony and balance, to ensure comfort and safety as they move together to each side of the table throughout the experience.
Strong colours in a low contrast palette present a visually calm and uplifting setting that supports positive shared reflection.
Each sitting generates one piece of the expanding companion installation ‘Even on my knees,’ which builds a sense of community by capturing and memorialising reflections into a growing altarpiece and tapestry .
Photos: Bernadette Baksa