This teapot, teacup, and saucer were created by the fiber artist Annin Barrett, who lives and works in Oregon and teaches textiles, art, design, and art history at The Art Institute of Portland. Barrett works primarily in sheep’s wool and human hair to create hand-felted sculptures and flat artworks.
This tea set was created from the artist’s own hair, collected over the course of several years, and held together with only thread. According to the artist, this work is intended as both a play on the idea of fused hair as a filter, such as might be used for straining tea, and on Méret Oppenheim’s sculpture Object (Luncheon in Fur). Oppenheim was a German-born artist who worked in Switzerland, and was a member of the 1920s surrealist movement. Oppenheim’s sculpture, Object (Luncheon in Fur), is composed of a fur-lined teacup, saucer, and spoon, which, taken together with the title, suggest an absurd and gross situation in which a person might actually drink from a furry cup.
Similar to Oppenheim’s sculpture, Barrett’s teapot and teacup can be imagined as a grotesque version of serving implements, which also suggest a variety ideas and emotions about serving tea and the social interactions involved. As Barrett says in her artist’s statement, “Hair in food or drink suggests a social taboo that crosses categories of proper behavior, hygiene and placement. Hair Teapot and Cup is literally a part of the artist’s body, implying both intimacy and contamination through the ritual of taking tea.”