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History at the Dinner Table: C.8A-R-2021

Object information

Current Location: In storage


History at the Dinner Table


Artist: Bishop, Jacqueline
Pottery: Duchess China 1888 Ltd
Printer: Digital Ceramic Systems Ltd




Set of 18 bone china plates transfer-printed overglaze with botanical imagery and depictions of enslaved African Americans. With gold lustre banding, applied by hand.


History note: Purchased from the artist

Legal notes

Given by the Friends of The Fitzwilliam Museum, 2021

Place(s) associated

  • Stoke-on-Trent ⪼ USA

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bought (2021) by Bishop, Jacqueline


21st Century, Early
Elizabeth II
Production date: AD 2021


At the Biennial, Bishop’s dinnerware was shown in antique cabinets made from mahogany in a former 19th-century warehouse. Bishop hoped they would entice visitors to look again: “Slavery is a fraught subject. But if we confront history squarely in the face we can all learn and start to move forwards. I hope my plates will be part of that process.” This was commissioned by SETSPACE and funded by Arts Council England.

Born and raised in Jamaica, Jacqueline Bishop now lives and works in New York City (Jamaica’s 15th Parish). She is an African-Caribbean, award-winning, multi-disciplinary artist (hitherto mainly known for her textiles, photographs and paintings); her work is exhibited widely in North America, Europe and North Africa. She is also a writer and poet, and an academic who teaches in the School of Liberal Studies at New York University. She is the founding editor of Calabash: A Journal of Caribbean Art & Letters; and author of The River's Song, a novel about growing up in Jamaica, among other books.

This set of plates was made by author-academic-artist Jacqueline Bishop for inclusion in the British Ceramics Biennial at Stoke-on-Trent (11 September –17 October 2021), where the set was explained as follows: "As a little girl growing up on the island of Jamaica, Jaqueline Bishop’s grandmother had a large mahogany cabinet where she kept some of her most prized possessions: her bone china crockery. These delicate pieces were painted with bright, cheerful images of palaces and carriages and were only used on special occasions. As beautiful as these china dishes were, they often hid a violent history of slavery and colonialism by European countries. In ‘History at the Dinner Table’, Jaqueline changes the story by showing the legacy of slavery on the dishes instead. Despite their violent history, Bishop is also seduced and charmed by the delicacy and beauty of bone chinaware and she has sought to produce dishes equally as beautiful as the ones made by major European centres of bone china production. The work is exhibited in mahogany cabinets as mahogany was once a major luxury import from Jamaica to England."

To produce this set, the first of an edition of three, Bishop used fine bone china blanks made by Stoke-based pottery, Duchess China 1888 Ltd. Then, Bishop's own digital photographs were edited to remove marks before being sent to Digital Ceramic Systems, also based in Stoke-on-Trent. Here the photographs were printed as transfers, which Bishop then cut out and applied to the plates before firing the set at 820 degrees Celsius. She then applied gold lustre banding by hand and fired the plates a final time, at 750 degrees Celsius.

Components of the work

Surface composed of glaze

Materials used in production

Bone china

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: C.8A-R-2021
Primary reference Number: 307502
Object entry form: TBC
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Tuesday 30 November 2021 Updated: Tuesday 5 March 2024 Last processed: Tuesday 5 March 2024

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 (2024) "History at the Dinner Table" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-05-23 02:01:07

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{{cite web|url= |title=History at the Dinner Table |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-05-23 02:01:07|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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