Celebrate Tea


57cm x 70cm | 2022
Used tea bags, kitchen waste dye, 

My work investigates the relationship between materials and cultures. As a Malaysian living in the United Kingdom, I've noticed that we celebrate our favourite beverage, tea. Tea drinking culture is very prevalent, so I wanted to investigate and explore the use of tea bags in the creation of my artwork. I spent nearly every day observing how these tea bags reacted to my mark making experiment. Following further investigation, I decided to print on the tea bags with natural dye pigments, using the Malaysian batik motif as inspiration. The inconsistency of my batik visuals on the tea bags demonstrated that some teabags are unable to absorb natural ink due to synthetic materials found in them.


As a natural dyer and batik maker, I’m intrigued to touch and dig deeper my work with kitchen waste and I was inspired with the exhibition showcase on Waste Age by the Design Museum in London early this year. The main key questions is ‘What can design do’? What I present on my work for TrashTreasure Residency is to think about how to reduce and reverse our addiction to waste. There is a way to find and give waste a second life. 

A young woman with short hair stands by a brightly-lit window. There are floral curtains behind her on her left. Outside the window are multi-storey buildings. The portrait is black and white.



Ummi is a Malaysian batik artist and natural dyer based in Norfolk. She explores and shares her love of natural dye in various way by looking beyond the current take-make-waste industrial model. She completed her MA in Textile Design focusing on kitchen waste dye.

She is currently on a mission to share her knowledge through various platforms in order to educate fellow Malaysians on new possibilities of slow crafted processes, particularly looking beyond traditional batik and natural dye making.



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