Gemma Birss

The Tea Series

by : Gemma Birss

This collection of illustrations explores the inherent loneliness reflected in the relationship between a little girl and her beloved, a teapot. Loneliness is the first real truth that one is born into, being immediately physically separated from the mother and consequently shading the infant's consciousness with the inevitable and fundamental reality of it. As a child, one learns to negotiate one's relationship with this loneliness. There is a tendency to seek an antidote to ward off the suffering of it. What that antidote is, is irrelevant - it may be a toy, or sweets, or a teapot, just as in later life it blossoms into the dysfunctional relationships that people cultivate with inanimate objects or substances to blot out the gnawing pain of it. We develop an unreciprocated love for and dependency on the inanimate, the unresponsive. But this antidote in itself accentuates the very essence of what we are trying to override.

The Tea Series portrays a girl who is randomly 'placed' in the world. Her connection to it is tenuous, marked only by her relationship to the teapot, and the teapot's relationship to the world of things. That she exists in this saccharine reality which is so benignly indifferent to her aloneness only serves to highlight it.

Having dabbled in numerous careers, including a documentary film maker, air hostess and journalist, Gemma Birss is now studying illustration at art college. Her work draws heartily on her experience of growing up in Africa and of living in Japan, India and France before settling in London where she now lives. She is an award-winning writer of children's books and a Kundalini Yoga teacher. Seeking to truffle out the shared experiences between different cultures, Gemma is interested in finding a commonality that transcends cultural fragmentation, one that is simply human.

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