When is a museum not a museum?
When it’s a fantastical work of art produced by the UK’s foremost Steampunk artist, that’s when.
Headingley-based Doctor Geof Banyard is a leading figure of the genre, whose work explores the fictional possibilities of science and history - joyously bordering on the ridiculous.
And now his magnificent Travelling Tea Museum, which thoroughly blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction, has gone on display on the Cutty Sark in London.
The former physicist said being asked to showcase the unusual piece of work celebrating his favourite brew, on the world-famous tea clipper, was the perfect blend of two worlds.The 40-year-old, who admits he is “tea obsessed”, said: “It’s the Cutty Sark! I remember going to it as a kid. It’s one of the last tea clippers. I don’t think this is something I could ever have dreamed of or planned.”
“It’s a little bit overwhelming but really really lovely. Right at this moment I’m feeling a massive glow of pride.”
His “museum” consists of three large display cases, complete with skirting board and wallpaper, along with curios and memorabilia telling a history of tea you never knew existed. Doctor Geof said: “It’s designed to look and feel like a museum but you go up to it and it’s full of lies - fantastical stories that aren’t true.”
Among the exhibits is a 2 inch square chunk of Burley Park tarmac labelled as unrefined tea.
He has also redesigned First World War propaganda posters to make them entirely related to tea instead of war.
He said: “It’s all about injecting a little joyous fun into a traditionally staid situation.”
A former research p hysicist with a PhD in quantum optics from the University of York, he approached the profession’s magazine and offered to produce regular cartoons for it.
He also worked in the school of design and textiles at the University of Leeds before producing comics and Steampunk related artwork became his day job.
PUNK IN PUBLIC
The Oxford Dictionary definition of Steampunk is “A genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.”
According to Steampunks, it started out as a science fiction genre but it is now a community with its own fashions, music and tastes.
For the Longitude Punk’d exhibition, The Royal Observatory Greenwich commissioned nine British Steampunk artists to create works inspired by the technical inventions that were presented to the Board of Longitude between 1714 and 1828.