She gives tea bags an altogether new identity. Artist Alka Mathur has been working on tea bags and stains for over six years and her works are on display now at Visual Arts Gallery, India Habitat Centre.
The belief that each tea bag holds a story and unfurls a world of memories, ideas and association, stands behind each of Mathur’s creations. “I have collected tea bags from my various travels and I am in the habit of scribbling small notes on them. It’s almost like maintaining a daily record on them,” she says. “Each tea bag brings back fond memories. My works are like piecing together nostalgia,” she adds.
Her assemblages also put across a broader idea of the co-existence of life and death. “I recycle all used materials. Recycling used material is like renewing something that is dead, giving it a new lease of life and it excites me,” she says.
Mathur’s works also highlight her roots that lie in rustic Rajasthan. “I have worked with the master dyers of Rajasthan and have studied how to use natural colours. Tea is the most easily accessible natural colour at home, hence my fascination for it,” she says.
Used tea leaves also make an appearance in Mathur’s assemblages. “I take them out of the bags and put them into small homeopathic medicine bottles to create pieces of art. I also collect old laces and use them to create something useful,” she says.
Mathur is currently working on a diary made of tea bags that she has collected from different places.