A Cup of Tea and A Web of Webs

A Cup of Tea and a Web of Webs


A Cup of Tea and a Web of Webs, text and A4-pen drawing on book index.

Collection of 105 spiderweb drawings made by harddrug users, policemen, inmates and buddhist practioners.

Part of ongoing series A Glass of Water (Some Objects on the Path to Enlightenment) A series of works based on weekly buddhist classes in a small buddhist temple located in a basement under a sun tan studio  in the east of Amsterdam.

A Cup of Tea and a Web of Webs

Amsterdam, 7 June 2011

Yesterday the lesson was about the complex re­lationship of living beings in the universe and the importance of this. It was actually about the indispensability of ‘the other’ and the subsequent conclusion that one should take good care of the other.

It’s difficult to retell it, but it boiled down to the idea that you think you are doing something on your own much more often than is actually the case. The teacher tried to clarify with an exemplary question: How many people are needed to drink a cup of tea on your own? To summarize the answer very briefly: First think about the tea, which was sown, sprayed, harvested, washed, dried, packaged, transported by lorry and then by ship; think of the people who built, drove and loaded the lorry, and the people who constructed the ship, the engineer, the captain, the customs officers, the packing factory, the printer who produced the bags, the ink factory that delivered the ink to the printer; then turn your mind to the cup, the porcelain factory in China, the people who mine the raw materials for porcelain, the lorry which transports those raw materials, the porcelain factory, the electricity company which supplies the power for the kilns, the builders of the dam that generates the electricity, and so on.

In recent years I’ve been collecting drawings of spider webs. I’ve asked people to draw a spider web for me, and so far I have 105. They were drawn by four groups of people: drug users, police officers, prisoners and Buddhists. The 105 drawings were produced in three different countries. I spread them out on the floor of my studio and combine drawings by the different groups as if they were blind dates. I allow the webs to overlap, interconnect, and make collages with the webs. It is highly unlikely that the artists will ever meet each other in real life. On the floor of my studio that happens effortlessly, and results in a web of webs.