Pyrex Glass, leather, magnetic clasp
Answering ‘yes’ to the question “would you like to come in for a cup of tea?” symbolises an acceptance of an tacit understanding. In this context, the offer and acceptance of a cup of tea, or other hot drink, becomes the vehicle for people to setup a shared space and time. There is a distinct tone to the conversations that occurs in this setting, it was this interaction between tea drinkers that became the focus of the Urban Billy Project. The ‘Billy’ was developed to enhance the positive attributes of contemporary Australian tea practice as well as enrich the process by incorporating new opportunities, taking the lead from its rural/remote counterpart, to the drinkers.
The Urban Billy consists of seven glass components that fit inside and around each other. Throughout the Billy’s cycle the water chamber, lid, stand/wind-break, two glasses, metho burner and lid, are used in a number of different configurations. Fitted together and within a leather protective container, the Billy as well as the water – within the water chamber - and fuel - in the metho burner – needed to prepare the tea can be transported. The pieces can then be unpacked and removed from the leather case and set-up to boil the water. Once the water has boiled the tea is added to diffuse, after a given time the tea is poured into the glasses and let to cool before drinking.
The portability of the Billy allows the tea practice to occur outside of the confines of domestic space, where a dependency on electricity or gas limits conventional kettles. The opportunity is then there for the Billy to be used in public space. Often people are required to consume ‘coffee’, ‘a meal’, ‘some beer’ to meet outside of their home. The Billy, as an object, allows the drinkers to move outside of these confines.
The transparency of the Billy allows the entire process of the preparation of the tea to be seen. The movement of the water as it heats, the changing size and form of the bubbles as the water comes to boil and the change in colour and leaves as they infuse all enhance the practice. By stripping away all the switches and controls found on conventional kettles, the drinkers are given both the opportunity and responsibility to