Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Artist: Hush         http://studio-hush.com/
 I spend my lunchtimes admiring the ever-changing laneways of Melbourne. I love the free, passionate and edgy nature of graffiti. We are blessed with street art in Melbourne. Fascinated with chanoyu (Japanese Tea Ceremony) as I am, whenever something takes my fancy I can’t help but think about how I can use it in the tea ceremony. Melbourne’s street art is no exception - I’ve always wondered how I could combine graffiti and chanoyu.

While watching some graf artists do their thing one lunchtime, I noticed they carry their spray cans in milk crates. The artists spray a work over an existing work, thus making the laneways of Melbourne a forever changing landscape, just like hanging scrolls constantly change in a tearoom alcove according to the season, theme of the tea gathering or artistic expression  sought by the tea master.  The tags that graf artists leave around the streets remind me of the ‘kao’ stylised name symbols used by teasists to sign artworks. In graf artist circles exists a strong sense of mateship, and this reminds me of the kabuki clans of artists that operated during Oribe and Soko’s time. Kabuki clans were at the cutting edge of artistic expression through dance,  and their new, sometimes controversial artistic expression is said to have influenced the way Oribe conducted chanoyu.
When I saw a group of graf artists sitting on milk crates taking a break one day it struck me: based on the traditional ‘ryurei’ table, create a tea ceremony that can be enjoyed in graffiti laneways. I spray painted milk crates and made them into table legs and seats. For the table top I used a piece of scrap board that can be found in construction work and used by graf artists as makeshift skate jumps. On the top of the board I spray painted one of my signatures, the character 夢 ‘mu’ or ‘dream’. For the brazier and iron kettle I used a billy and gas burner - Aussie swagman style. Now graf artists can put their cans down and break with tea, with GraffiTEA.


My first GraffiTEA was at the Blender Studios Laneway. It was attended by the director of Blender Studios, a painter, a graffiti artist, a potter , and one of my students. While partaking in tea together, it was clear everyone had an innate understanding of the values of Tea. Street artists devote countless hours to refining their art, and the artists involved immediately understood and appreciated the sincere heart and sincere application to the art of Tea present in the hosts of the ceremony.  

People just get Tea. Through the values of Tea, everyone participating in GraffiTEA related openly, and new, special bonds were created among us. These values, I think, are:

Maintain a sincere heart and sincere application to each task, each day, and you develop spiritually forever. (Dogen’s philosophy)

Making time to reflect on your true self.

Pursuing tranquillity and beauty.

Making every interaction the best it can be.

Appreciating art and exploring your creativity.

With these values present, GraffiTEA maintains the spirit perfected by the founders of chanoyu.







I look forward to sharing tea with you, whether it be in a traditional tearoom of in a graf-covered laneway. As one of my students put it: ‘"Somewhere out there in a Melbourne laneway, a samurai is lying in wait with a tea bowl..."


Flash GraffiTEA @ Manifest Anime Festival, Melbourne


  1. Your GraffiTEA is an inspirational and exciting mashup of modern and traditional art forms. Arigatou!

    1. Thanks, Holly! Sorry not to reply sooner - I'm not used to getting comments. I'll be doing a lot more of this around Melbourne in the coming year. If you're around, join me for a green one.