MTG Hawke’s Bay explores our long love affair with tea in the exhibition, Time for Tea: the much-loved cuppa, opening this Saturday 25 March.
Many homes in the 19th and 20th centuries had a china cabinet in which to showcase beautiful and treasured pieces of china, including sets of cups, saucers and plates brought out for important afternoon teas.
MTG’s china collection includes all the trappings required for a successful Victorian afternoon tea; a time when invited acquaintances and friends could meet, catch up on local gossip and recent events.
Time for Tea, in the Nelson Gallery, features three moustache cups, which have a significant point of difference from today’s often utilitarian cups - each has an inner lip on which to rest a gentleman’s carefully manicured and waxed pride and joy - his moustache.
The humble tin billy is not forgotten; evoking the comforting smell of wood smoke in the bush, and tea brewed black and strong, sweetened with condensed milk and drunk from an enamel cup.
At eye level for children to enjoy will be the dining room of a doll’s house set up with miniature furniture, a tea service and ladies seated in elegant dress, seemingly talking amicably over a cuppa.
Souvenir china also has a part to play in this show: of special interest is the cup showing Emerson Street, Napier during and after the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake.
Be startled, surprised and amused by Art deco tea sets, which showcase novel forms, bright colours, geometric shapes, and abstract designs. The designs were technically and aesthetically innovative but often proved entirely impractical - especially the solid triangular handles of teapots and teacups, which were hard to hold and transmitted heat.
So come, join us for Time for Tea: the much-loved cuppa, on show from Saturday.
MTG Hawke’s Bay is open seven days from 10am to 5pm.
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