Skip to main content

In plain sight, I – III: C.1.1-23-2014

An image of Ceramic assemblage

© Edmund de Waal. Photograph copyright © The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Terms of use

These images are provided for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND). To license a high resolution version, please contact our image library who will discuss fees, terms and waivers.

Download this image

Creative commons explained - what it means, how you can use our's and other people's content.

Colours in this image

Object information


in plain sight, I – III


Waal, Edmund de (Potter)


20 porcelain vessels in three aluminium, glass and plexiglass vitrines.

The vessels are thrown, with straight sides and flat bases. They are small, less than a thumb’s depth and little more than a thumb’s diameter. Some are smooth, but most are slightly ridged or have slight shape to the surface; the thickness of the walls varies. The clay and/or glaze has been varied such that the colour of the vessels ranges from creamy white to pearl-ware white; some vessels are shiny, some have a matt glaze; two are unglazed. The vitrines are rectangular with thick white frames and are open at the bottom. The vessels within each vitrine are grouped in twos, threes or fours in a single line; vitrines I and III contain seven vessels each, vitrine II only six.


History note: Made by the donor

Legal notes

Given by Edmund de Waal

Measurements and weight

Depth: 13 cm
Width: 42 cm

Place(s) associated

  • London ⪼ England

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2014-01-27) by Waal, Edmund de


Early 21st Century
Elizabeth II
Production date: AD 2013


Edmund de Waal (1964 - ) studied English at Trinity Hall, Cambridge and ceramics in both England and Japan. He is best known for his large scale installations, which have been exhibited around the world. Much of his recent work concerns collections and collecting – how objects are kept together, lost, stolen or dispersed. Edmund de Waal’s interests span minimalism, architecture, music and literature; he has published several books on ceramics and a family memoir, ‘The Hare with Amber Eyes’, which has been translated into some 30 languages. In 2011 he was awarded an OBE for services to art.

This is a unique, site-specific installation made for display in a Georgian display cabinet, as part of ‘On White: Porcelain Stories from the Fitzwilliam Museum’, November 2013 – February 2014, in which Edmund de Waal made installations of his porcelain ‘talk softly with’ porcelain from the Fitzwilliam collection. In the exhibition brochure, he explains: 'The essence of porcelain is its whiteness. But white is not a singular colour, it is a possibility. White in China means clouds and mist, egrets, paper … mourning. Here is a compendium of whites … .’. On this piece he writes: ‘There is a real pleasure in hiding things; it allows for serendipitous, unconnected and unexpected encounters to happen, for discoveries away from your favourite known paths and places. … Somewhere nearby is a group of three small, white vitrines tucked away, each with six or seven modest pots. It is called in plain sight.'

Components of the work

Pots composed of glaze ( clear - shiny, matt and crystalline) hard-paste porcelain Case composed of Plexiglass aluminium glass Vitrines Height 18 cm

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: slightly wedge-shaped rectangle

  • Location: On side of each vessel, near base
  • Method of creation: Stamped
  • Type: Mark

Inscription present: numbers from I.1-I.7, II.1-II.6, III.1-III.7, labels edged in black

  • Text: ‘Edmund de Waal - London - 2013’encircling (eg) ‘I.1’
  • Location: Underside of each vessel
  • Method of creation: Clear circular label, printed in black, lettering in script
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.1.1-23-2014
Primary reference Number: 197760
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Tuesday 25 March 2014 Updated: Wednesday 15 July 2020 Last processed: Wednesday 31 March 2021

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2022) "in plain sight, I – III" Web page available at: Accessed: 2022-06-30 08:45:25

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=in plain sight, I – III |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-06-30 08:45:25|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

Bootstrap HTML code for reuse

To use this as a simple code embed, copy this string:

                <div class="text-center my-3">
                    <figure class="figure">
                        <img src=""
                        alt="in plain sight, I – III"
                        class="img-fluid" />
                        <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">in plain sight, I – III</figcaption>

Please enter your name as you would like to be addressed
Please enter your email address
The object accession number - this is prefilled
Please enter your query with as much detail as possible

More objects and works of art you might like

St Jerome praying: Arched print

Accession Number: 23.K.5-169

Expulsion from the Temple

Accession Number: 22.I.10-80


Accession Number: CM.93-1972

View of Zaffia in Barbary (Saffi in Morocco)

Accession Number: PD.587-1963

Suggested products from Curating Cambridge

You might be interested in this...

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...