Trading Station: How Hot Drinks Shape Our Lives

December 14, 2019  -  January 31, 2025

Free Admission

Cornelia Parker, Object That Fell Off The White Cliffs Of Dover, 1992

Exploring the changing social use of tea, coffee and hot chocolate.

Hot drinks, once expensive luxuries for the few, have enriched our lives, promoted the exchange of ideas and influenced the design of our homes. Trading Station traces , revealing their global histories, connections to slavery and colonisation and contemporary ethical issues. Spanning four centuries and ranging from silver, porcelain, glass, fashion, lighting, prints and painting, this showcase of exquisite and utilitarian objects asks probing questions and uncovers hidden histories.

£exhibition view of the Design Gallery
Josef Van Aken, A Tea Party - This is an early example of an English 'Conversation Piece', or informal group portrait, a genre whose evolution was largely informed by Van Aken's knowledge of Dutch and Flemish interior subjects. The figures are dressed in fashionable indoor clothes, the man in an informal gown with a loose cap, instead of a wig. There's a tea set in the middles and the subjects are all leaning in as if in mid conversation. A Tea Party, Josef van Aken 1699 - 1749

At the heart of Trading Station is a gathering space for visitors and groups to use freely. The space is designed to host making workshops, talks and performances to encourage new debate, thinking and action on how better to live together today. The gathering space has been shaped and co-designed by a group of 24 people from groups who regularly use the gallery, working with Manchester-based design studio Standard Practice to realise ideas. The space is open for all to gather and participate in, either in a programmed event or as a space to stop, reflect and take stock.

Thank you to the following people who are part of the working group for the gathering space:

Andy | Alan | Carol | Carole | Eunice | Farzana | Haroon | Jennifer | Lubna | Lizhen | Louise | Michael | Nazia | Nicola | Paul | Richard | Rosetta | Saira | Suzanna | Robert | Ruth | Tatyana | Trevor | Vijay

Jennifer Little gives a BSL guide to two pieces on display in Trading Station