Jacqueline Bishop’s “History at the Dinner Table” Featured in

Which stories get remembered, and why?

This exhibition explores some new stories from history – stories that help us to separate fact from fiction and history from myth.

By bringing together collections from across the University of Cambridge’s museums, libraries and colleges with loans from around the world, Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance asks new questions about Cambridge’s role in the transatlantic slave trade and looks at how objects and artworks have influenced history and perspectives.

In 1816, Richard Fitzwilliam donated vast sums of money, literature and art to the University of Cambridge, creating the Museum that is named after him. But Fitzwilliam’s generosity was only possible because of the wealth his grandfather accumulated in part through the transatlantic slave trade. Acknowledging this story for the first time has led to new discoveries about the objects Fitzwilliam donated, the people who collected them, and the cultures that created them.

Displaying objects and artworks made in West Africa, the Caribbean, South America and Europe, this landmark exhibition also reveals the histories that have been silenced; not just stories of exploitation, but those of resilience and liberation, too. It shows how through resisting colonial slavery, people produced new cultures known as the Black Atlantic, that continue to shape our world.

Historic works are shown alongside modern and contemporary works by artists including Barbara Walker, Donald Locke, Alberta Whittle and Keith Piper that challenge and reflect on hidden and untold stories.

The stories in the Black Atlantic can help us to create a fairer future. By rethinking our connected and complex histories and looking again through the lens of contemporary art, tomorrow’s story can be one of repair, hope and freedom.

Black Atlantic is the first in a series of exhibitions and gallery interventions planned for 2023-2026.

More on the Exhibition HERE

More on Jacqueline Bishop HERE

Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance

At the Fitzwilliam Museum | Cambridge, UK | September 8 – January 7, 2024


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 centers of bone china production. The work is exhibited in mahogany cabinets as mahogany was once a major luxury import from Jamaica to England. 

British Ceramics Biennale, 2021


Black Atlantic – Exhibition Catalogue

Black Atlantic: Power, People, Resistance, edited by Victoria Avery & Jake Subryan Richards

Catalogue to accompany the landmark exhibition coming to the Fitzwilliam Museum in autumn 2023. The exhibition brings together significant national and international loans with exhibits from the Fitzwilliam’s collection and from other University museums, colleges, and libraries. The catalogue contains contributions by curators, historians, and artists, exploring the themes and subjects of the exhibition.

Objects and artworks illustrating the financial, scientific, and commercial transformations in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Britain that came about because of enslaved labour are shown in dialogue with modern and contemporary artworks by artists including Donald Locke, Barbara Walker, Keith Piper and Jacqueline Bishop that respond to hidden histories and reveal stories of courage, resistance, hope and repair.

Product details:

  • Softback exhibition catalogue, 192 pages
  • Illustrated in full colour throughout
  • Size: 25 x 19 cm
  • ISBN: 9781781301234
  • Published by Bloomsbury in September 2023

Purchase the catalog here