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Meet the banker turned artist who is making art out of tea bags


Ritu Dua is a person who has the innate ability to notice the beauty of the things around her, and she started using recycled tea bags to convey that beauty to others.

For some, art is a way of expressing themselves, and for others, it stems from sheer passion. For 47-year-old Ritu Dua, art is a way of living.

“I have let myself be drawn by the strong pull of what I love to do, draw, and paint. Passion is my qualification,” says Ritu, a banker and a post graduate teacher turned artist.

Beneath My Heart- Art

Ritu had a strong desire to express herself and find a place to detail to the world all that she noticed around her, be it the magic of colour or the incredible mystery of the various patterns that she observed every day. She wanted to talk about the different cultures of the world, the way they dress, the way they accessorise themselves; they awed and inspired her enough to start a blog in 2012 called ‘Beneath my heart- Art’, dedicated to art and her writings.

Ritu’s blog is a space where she shares with the world the beauty she sees in the things that surround her.

She uses her blog to express in words what she observes through her artistic eye. For Ritu, the blog is a way to connect her to people from every nook and corner of the world.

“Due to my husband’s job, we have been in and out of India regularly for a long time. This forced me to resign from my job, and I took to art as my calling. I believe that when you step into a space where nothing is guaranteed, it is enthralling as well as challenging. In fact, most of the time, my paintings are inspired from my own poems and writings, and vice-versa,” says Ritu.

“And in the process, my creative thinking gets ignited. It is an uncompromising commitment to incite surprise, anticipation, and delight in the form of art and poetry. I am a true gypsy at heart. I see colour in music, music in architecture, and poetry in lines and brush strokes. All these things are deeply connected, and have helped me along the way,” says Ritu, who currently resides in Navi Mumbai.

On her blog, Ritu also shares with her readers the different exhibitions, art festivals, and eco melas that she attends and participates in.

Chai Tamaasha

Ritu has this ability to look at the world from a perspective that’s not just unique, but constructive too. She is of the opinion that trash is merely a failure of one’s imagination. As someone who loves the unpredictability of materials thrown away as trash, Ritu easily gets carried away with their strange shapes, textures, and colours.

“I feel such things always carry a story to be heard, as against their state of abandoned worthlessness. It was one such lovely day when I was painting and enjoying each sip of my chai that I happened to notice the beautiful stains of tea on the teabag,” says Ritu.

The incredible hues of tea on the tea bag ignited Ritu’s imagination, and she noticed the different shades of tea that had appeared after she had brewed it for some time.  She soon began to create art with these used tea bags.

“Initially, I failed to attain something substantial, since the bag was too thin and flimsy to work on; but I could eventually work my way around it. I could finally create miniature artworks. Each one of them has a different tea-stained background, and each piece in itself is a unique piece of art!” says Ritu.

After mastering what Ritu calls a “time-consuming yet fulfilling artwork”, Ritu went on to present to the world her miniature creations at the Kala Ghoda Art Festival in Mumbai last year, which had a theme dubbed ‘Without Borders’. Ritu’s installation at the Art Festival was titled ‘My Chai Tamaasha’.

“The recycled teabags used in my installation symbolise a thousand and a half cups of tea that played their part in bringing hearts closer ‘without borders’. Each little teabag here has a story in its heart…happy moments, laughter, new beginnings, and some sad tales too. Each of them has the mighty power to tug at your heart strings! It is a treat of taste, aroma, and memory that visually comes alive in this installation. And the cutting chai glass especially for my new love, Mumbai,” says Ritu.

Ritu recently completed a series of works on used teabags that she calls ‘Feelings 77’, comprising of one feeling a day expressed on a used teabag for 77 days. Upon enquiring as to the reason behind the number 77, Ritu says that she discovered that the number indicates coming changes of self-discovery or increased knowledge through understanding oneself and ultimately leading to greater motivation, transformation, or freedom. Ritu presented her art at the Shaurya Art Gallery in Navi Mumbai during November 2016, and at Kulture Kunnect in Navi Mumbai in January 2017.

Future plans

Ritu is now working on illustrating a recipe book for special needs kids. She wants to illustrate a good number of super easy, no-cook recipes for such children.

“Children learn a lot more from graphic sources now than in the past. Art is undoubtedly a way to encourage the process and the experience of thinking and making things better. I firmly believe that my recipe illustrations will not only be a visual feast for these kids, but also encourage them to definitely try out a small snack for themselves and be a ‘Special Chef’ in their own special way,” says Ritu.

In her recipe book, Ritu says that everything, right from the ingredients to the directions, will be illustrated. She assures us that these recipes would involve no or very little cooking, and so could be easily followed by children under parental supervision.

About the author

Contributor from Hyderabad.

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