Opening on the 13th September at White Cloth Gallery, Flush, a photography project by photographer and filmmaker Jonathan Pickup, explores the globalised product of Darjeeling tea.
Flush illustrates all stages of production from the planting in India, through to sale of product in England. The project aims to highlight contemporary concerns of rapid urbanisation and tourism in Darjeeling, investigates anthropologically into the lives of plantation workers, and depicts globalisation as a phenomenon of modernity.
The project’s narrative spans two continents, opening with tea planting in India, and closing with product sale by multinational corporations such as Tetley in the UK. It deals with contemporary issues surrounding global import and export, including the impact of international trading on global society. Flush aims to make the audience question the effect on developing countries of goods consumption on a global scale, most notably how the richest countries that dominate world trade continue to profit at the expense of those developing.
Flush also documents an anthropological investigation into the fetishization of female tea pluckers in Darjeeling, and attempts to challenge this contemporary issue. The Tea Board, attempting to enhance the outward authenticity of Darjeeling tea, portray their labourers as material aspects of the ‘tea experience’, and exploit them in advertising campaigns promoting fair-trade and equality. The exhibition aims to deconstruct this widely publicised view, shedding light on the realities of inequality in the tea industry, and challenging the aestheticization of its labourers.
The 30 photographic images that make up the series will be on show at the White Cloth Gallery in Leeds for six weeks, and represent a years worth of work. Join the photographer at 6pm on 13th September to explore the series.