Projects/ Tampan Ship of Souls
Tampan Ship of Souls
Wall cloth from Sumatra: forms, patterns and connections
For Rethinking HOME, Jennifer Tee researched Indonesian woven ‘ship cloths’ called Palepai and Tampan. Travelling to
Lampung, Indonesia, she sought to explore these family heirlooms, which predominantly feature a ship with a mast that
often branches out into a tree of life - evocative of human souls continuing on to new lives. The designs’ deeper meaning,
the subject of migration, is of particular interest to Tee.
For Rethinking HOME, Tee made two ‘tapestries’, constructed entirely out of dried, pressed tulip petals - integrating the
iconic Dutch tulip with woven textiles from the Lampung area of South Sumatra. One depicts the ship motif and the
other the tree of life. Both tulips and ship cloths are of deep personal significance to her, a connection which can also be
conceptualised through ships. The first ship brought her father to the Netherlands from Indonesia in 1950; the second
carried her maternal grandfather back and forth to America on tulip business.
Jennifer Tee’s works comprise sculpture, installation, performance, photography, and collages, all with a wide-ranging
underlying frame of reference. Of central importance is Tee’s interest in the in-between state of what she calls the soul in
limbo*. The soul in limbo is restless and alive, and caught in an unnamed place - a conceptual, mental, psychological, and
physical space - on the border between the here and the possible. Tee also researches contemporary life, with its crosscultural
identity and narratives, its instability and complexity, and its potential for the loss of identity, language, and kinship
with original cultures. In addition, Tee explores various forms of utopian concepts of life and their potential for creating a
new and more beautiful and soulful world**. With her work, she encourages the contemplation of life’s fragile connections,
evoking spiritual realms with active material experimentation.
* The Soul in Limbo derives from André Breton’s novel Nadja from 1928.