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Making Tea

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    2004 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    McCartney, Mary (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    gelatin silver print

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mary McCartney

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Photography Centre, Room 101, The Sir Elton John and David Furnish Gallery, case ARCH, shelf 2

Mary McCartney is a British photographer known for portraiture and fashion photography. She has regularly been commissioned for publications such as Harper's Bazaar and British Vogue, as well as brands including Selfridges, De Beers and the Brit Awards. In 2015 McCartney was chosen to take the official photograph of Queen Elizabeth II to mark the occasion of her becoming the longest reigning Monarch in history. McCartney has had a number of solo exhibitions, including Off Pointe - A Photographic Study of the Royal Ballet After Hours at the Royal Opera House, 2004, and From Where I Stand at the National Portrait Gallery in 2010. She has released two photographic books, Mary McCartney: From Where I Stand in 2010 and Mary McCartney: Monochrome & Colour in 2014.

This selection of fourteen photographs are taken from McCartney’s first solo exhibition, featuring behind the scenes pictures of dancers in the Corps De Ballet during a run of performances at The Royal Opera House between 2004-2007. McCartney has spoken of her desire to capture unguarded, spontaneous moments; for this project, she spent a large amount of time backstage getting to know the dancers, meaning she was able to capture particularly intimate moments when invited into the dancer’s homes and dressing rooms. McCartney deliberately avoided photographing the dancers on stage or in rehearsals. She aimed to explore contradictions between the perfection of the storybook world of ballet depicted onstage with the imperfect reality of the dancer’s day to day lives.

Physical description

Through an open door, a woman can be seen standing barefoot in a black and white tiled kitchen. Her hair is wrapped in a white towel and she is making a cup of tea.

Place of Origin

London (made)


2004 (made)


McCartney, Mary (artist)

Materials and Techniques

gelatin silver print


Height: 50.5 cm, Width: 40.5 cm, :

Descriptive line

Photograph by Mary McCartney, 'Making Tea', from the series 'Off Pointe - A Photographic Study of the Royal Ballet After Hours', 2004, gelatin silver print

Labels and date

Photography Centre 2018-20:

Highlights from the McCartney Collection

Linda McCartney photographed many famous and influential figures of the 1960s, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and David Bowie. She was the first female photographer to shoot a Rolling Stone magazine cover, with a portrait of Eric Clapton in 1968. She also made many touching personal photographs of her husband, Paul McCartney, and their children. Linda’s work inspired her daughter Mary to take up photography. Mary’s first exhibition featured candid pictures and studies of ballet dancers behind the scenes at Covent Garden’s Royal Opera House. Since then, Mary has gone on to photograph around the world, sharing her mother’s talent for capturing unguarded and unstaged moments.

Mary McCartney (born 1969)
1. Making Tea, 2004
2. Bath One, 2004
3. Murphy, 2005
4. Lone Dancer, 2004
Given by Mary McCartney
Museum nos. E.301 to 304-2018 []


Photographic paper


Photography; Gelatin silver

Subjects depicted

Tea; Ballet; Ballerina; Ritual




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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