Daily Archives: February 14, 2021

THE DIG starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes


Dec 3, 2020

As WWII looms, a wealthy widow (Carey Mulligan) hires an amateur archaeologist (Ralph Fiennes) to excavate the burial mounds on her estate. When they make a historic discovery, the echoes of Britain’s past resonate in the face of its uncertain future‎. THE DIG stars Carey Mulligan, Ralph Fiennes, Lily James, Johnny Flynn, Ben Chaplin, and Ken Scott. In Select Theaters January 15 and on Netflix January 29.

A Nice Cup of Tea (Presented by Victoria Wood)

Christopher T

Jul 29, 2020

Comedy legend Victoria Wood travels the globe to explore Britain’s love affair with tea in a two-part special on the little plant that changed the world. (The original copyright for this video is held by the British Broadcasting Corporation – 2013.) The video is complete here – not edited as found elsewhere..

“A Nice Cup of Tea” Party in June 2018 · Museum of Oxford – City Stories

Sugar: The High Cost of Sweetness
A Nice Cup of Tea project, with Mimi Goodall, Elisabeth Grass, and photographer Fran Monks, “Photographs from A Nice Cup of Tea Party in June 2018,” Museum of Oxford – City Stories, accessed February 14, 2021, https://museumofoxford.omeka.net/items/show/230.

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Radical Object: A Nice Cup of Tea? Everyday Ceramics as Sites of Empire – History Workshop

By Elisabeth Grass on April 23, 2019 in Radical Objects

The study of material culture has led to some superb work on radical ceramics from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Researchers have shown that quotidian items were often decorated in support of radical movements, carrying calls for political and social change. The subversive potential of these objects was amplified by their ubiquity; messages in support of the abolition of slavery or social reform were juxtaposed with the ordinariness of the items on which they appeared.

But what about ceramics with no overt agenda? At first glance, this tea bowl and saucer appear to be far from radical; they certainly bear no abolitionist motto or cap of liberty. They are the kinds of objects that many of us have seen in museums and historic houses, and which often seem inaccessible. Usually presented solely as fine and luxury goods, they are seldom interpreted with reference to means of production, power, or imperialism. Yet as fashionable commodities they represent some of the many ways in which empire appeared, and was normalised, in British homes.

The commodification of the bitter trinity of chocolate, coffee and tea introduced new rituals of consumption to Britain, which soon became bound up with projected notions of civility and politeness. These rituals not only increased demand for the goods themselves—and sugar to sweeten them—but were also accompanied by a host of objects for their preparation and presentation.

A project in Oxford is seeking to use these objects as a basis for discussions of Britain’s imperial agenda. A Nice Cup of Tea has partnered with the Ashmolean Museum to explore the imperial context of its ceramics in a community co-curated exhibition. Opening in May 2019, the exhibition will take place in the European Ceramics Gallery alongside the Marshall Collection, one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of early coloured Worcester porcelain. Working with artists Lois Muddiman and Enam Gbewonyo, and local community group BK LUWO, the project recontextualises these artefacts by placing them alongside narratives about the historical acquisition of tea and sugar, and a striking installation of exploding tea-cups.

A Nice Cup of Tea is challenging school students, families, and museum visitors to think about empire by reconsidering the national obsession with tea drinking. It juxtaposes the civilised accoutrements of the tea table with histories of the human trafficking and mass-enslavement that underpinned the sugar industry, and the corruption and violence which secured access to tea. Visitors are encouraged to consider the dialectic between violence perpetrated at the geographical fringes of the British Empire, and the projection of civility and gentility which arose around taking tea ‘at home’.

The idea came from looking at the Ashmolean Museum’s collections of eighteenth-century porcelain and wondering: what could be discovered from putting these objects into their wider global and social context?

…(read more).

The Nice Cup of Tea project was developed by Myfanwy Lloyd and Angeli Vaid of Oxford Arts Consultants with research carried out by Oxford University PhD students Mimi Goodall and Elisabeth Grass. The project has been working closely with partners across Oxford, including the Oxford Windrush Planning Group, chaired by Junie James, Director of the African Caribbean Kultural Heritage Initiative. The group brings together community organisations, Oxford City Council, Museum of Oxford, the University Museums, the Oxford University History Faculty and independent activists.

Elisabeth Grass is a doctoral candidate in the History Faculty at Oxford University, studying as part of a Collaborative Doctoral Award with the National Trust. She is researching West Indian slave owners in Britain in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and the processes by which they established themselves as landed gentlemen. A rare book cataloguer by profession, she is particularly interested in the ways in which collecting and connoisseurship were used to elide negative associations with empire and transatlantic slavery.

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Thinking With Things: Professor Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly

Ashmolean Museum– Jan 16, 2017

How does porcelain represent a royal marriage? When Maria Amalia of Saxony married Carlo, King of the Two Sicilies, in 1738, she brought Meissen porcelain with her to Naples. Her grandfather had founded the first European porcelain factory in 1710 and the Saxon court often presented porcelain to ambassadors and others who helped them to broker strategic political marriages. In this episode of Thinking With Things Professor Helen Watanabe-O’Kelly (German Literature, University of Oxford) looks at the Meissen porcelain chocolate cup and tea bowl at the Ashmolean Museum. http://www.ashmolean.org/podcasts/

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Inside the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

University of Oxford– Mar 6, 2015

The Museum of Natural History is one of the landmarks of Oxford, its beautiful great glass hall known to generations of visitors. This film follows the staff at the institution for a day, revealing a world of discovery behind the scenes, as researchers use everything from laser scanning and high-tech photography to dentists’ drills and paintbrushes to uncover the stories behind literally millions of animal, plant and mineral specimens.

Inside the Ashmolean Museum

University of Oxford– Jul 20, 2015

The Ashmolean Museum is home to the University of Oxford’s collection of art and archaeology. Founded in 1683 it is the oldest public museum in the world. Highlights include mummies from Ancient Egypt; classical sculpture from Greece and Rome; paintings by masters of European art such as Raphael, Rembrandt van Rijn, William Turner, and Vincent Van Gogh; and the greatest collection of Chinese art in the western world.

Inside the Pitt Rivers Museum

University of Oxford– Feb 18, 2016

The Pitt Rivers Museum is not just a treasure trove of archaeological and ethnographic objects. Join the staff behind the scenes to see how this unique collection is kept alive as a resource for people of all ages and interests! http://www.prm.ox.ac.uk

Oxford and the Great War: The War At Home

University of Oxford– Oct 20, 2014

Oxford and the Great War: The War at Home Professor William Whyte of St John’s College and Dr Anne Manuel of Somerville College discuss the impact of the First World War on Oxford itself, as the city became a huge hospital – as well as a haven for refugees from around the world. How did the University (and those of its students who didn’t go to war) change as a result of the conflict?

Sources for Oxfordshire maps