Wei Jane Chir

Wei Jane Chir





One’s Special Tea – Wei Jane Chir

Artist Wei Jane Chir has presented in a left-to-right long scroll, a slow, river-like narrative. This feeling of timelessness is carried through in the use of materials, where new and ancient are combined, transcending time and place.

One’s Special Tea includes 10 ancient Chinese pictures and introduces different teas, linked by theme. The book uses photography to integrate the artist’s own wood Cut, and presents everything with a superlative aesthetic sense. Traditional engraving methods and modern technology have been integrated in the production of the pieces. The artist’s deep appreciation of tea seems to invite even the tea drinkers of bygone days into the scroll, to sit on the mat together and enjoy themselves.

In One’s Special Tea, readers with different perspectives, in different moods, and in different stages of life will all be able to find their bearings and discover a place of their own in which to savor their own special tea.

Reference materials in Wei Jane Chir’s own words:
“One’s Special Tea is drawn from a phrase in the classical Chinese novel Dream of the Red Chamber, where in the 41st chapter Baoyu discovers Miaoyu has invited the sisters of the great residential compound to tea, and he says: ‘You’re drinking your own special tea!’ Using modern language it’s just ‘special tea,’ referring to the best tea that one has to offer when good friends visit.

When friends gather to taste and discuss tea, the host will take out his or her finest to enjoy with companions: in the studio at home, in a garden, at a wayside pavilion, by a cliff, on the water’s edge, or in a secluded thatched hut in the mountains.

The concept of ‘one’s special tea’ occupied a highly important place in traditional Chinese cultural life. There is a saying that one can go without wine, but not without tea. Without tea, there is no gathering, but when the tea flows, so does conversation, and even recitations of the four forms of Chinese poetry. Just as how in ancient times painting and calligraphy captured and conveyed the personal tastes and character of their master, so it can be said that the enjoyment of ‘one’s special tea’ was, in ancient China, an indispensable, and quintessential, cultural activity.

From drinking tea, to collecting different kinds of tea, to growing my own tea, in the beginning it was merely a personal hobby. As time went on and the love persisted, I felt the urge to use my printmaking skills to express something about tea. I took my wood block print work and decided to take the opportunity to use a modern medium to bring tea into the digital age.

Having done traditional printmaking for twenty years, from wood, etching, silk printing, to copper plating, I can’t deny that at the beginning I rejected digital technology. But becoming familiar with this technology of the new century, and being able to give perfect manifestation to my ideas, is something that many modern engraving artists have experienced. I have combined traditional wood and painting, and traditional painting techniques, and after exporting them digitally I feel they’re something that you can ‘look at a hundred times without growing weary.’ In this work I have selected only imagery that relates to tea culture—this is what permeates my original works. Now, it’s not only my own special tea book, but the special tea book of many people.


Wei Jane Chir