The Craft of Tea: 1660-2024

01 May 2024 - 27 Jun 2024 · Mon - Fri, 9am - 6pm
Free admission
The Goldsmiths’ Centre, 42 Britton Street, London EC1M 5AD
Programme type
Exhibitions and Showcases

The Craft of Tea: 1660-2024 is a free exhibition at the Goldsmiths’ Centre that explores the material history of tea, stylistically and thematically from 1660 to the present day. It presents remarkable silver objects from The Chitra Collection, an extraordinary private museum of historic teawares, alongside examples by modern and contemporary makers.

Over forty notable pieces from the collection will be displayed, spanning the seventeenth to the twenty-first century. They will be exhibited together with loans from The Pearson Silver Collection, The Goldsmiths’ Company Collection and individual makers. The Chitra Collection team has been a long-term contributor to the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s public and training programmes. The co-curated exhibition is a unique chance for members of the jewellery and silversmithing industry, Londoners and visitors to the Goldsmiths’ Centre to view examples from this incredible collection.

The exhibition is divided into eight themes that take you on a journey from the early beginnings of the tea trade in Europe, through tea taking as ritual, power and rebellion, to the boundary-pushing teapots of the modern and contemporary period. The exhibits are global in scope, whilst also questioning the preoccupations of UK silversmiths today. Amongst the historical examples in each thematic display, you will find a contemporary counterpart that responds to or extends the ideas under consideration.

Whatever your interest – visual, historical, or practical – we hope that you will enjoy this celebration of the craft of making tea.

What is the Chitra Collection?

The Chitra Collection is an unsurpassed private museum of historic teawares. With objects from Europe, Asia and the Americas, the collection celebrates the global significance of tea and teaware design, from ancient China, through to the present day. In 2011 Nirmal Sethia, Philanthropist and Chairman of the luxury tea company, Newby London, set himself the task of acquiring the world’s greatest collection of teawares to record and preserve tea cultures of the past. Today, the collection, named in honour of his late wife, Chitra, totals almost 3000 objects and is already the world’s finest and most comprehensive of its kind.

Image credits: Teapot, silver, Kashmir, India, ca. 1880, Chitra Collection | Teapot, NK Sethia (designer), F. Scavia (maker), silver, diamond, emerald, enamel, Italy, 2012, Chitra Collection |  Teapot, Tara M Coomber, silver, wood, England, 2004, Chitra Collection | Teapot, copper alloy, siver, Tibet, 18th century, Chitra Collection | Tea Caddy, Antip Kuzmichev, silver gilt, enamel, Moscow, 1895, Chitra Collection | Teapot, NK Sethia (designer), F. Scavia (maker), gold, silver, rubies, diamonds, malachite, lapis, Italy, 2014, Chitra Collection | Teapot, porcelain, bronze-gilt, China and the Netherlands, 1662 - 1700, Chitra Collection | England Teapot, 1963, Stuart Devlin. Courtesy of The Goldsmiths' Company Collection | Teapot, Marie-Joseph-Gabriel Genu, silver-gilt, Paris, 1798 - 1809, Chitra Collection | Milk jug, silver, enamel, ivory, Japan, ca. 1880, Chitra Collection | Aunty, 2009, Simone Ten Hompel. Courtesy of The Pearson Silver Collection. Photo: Todd White Art Photography | Teapot, Sarah Hutchison, parcel-gilt silver, diamonds, Scotland, 2016, Chitra Collection | Damask Teapot, 2024, Chris Knight. Photo: Todd White Art Photography.