The British love of sugar has a dark and disturbing history.

  • Concept, Direction & Music: Elaine Mitchener
  • Movement Direction: Dam Van Huynh
  • Historical Consultant: Christer Petley
  • Devised and performed by: Elaine Mitchener, Sylvia Hallett, Mark Sanders, Jason Yarde


In her latest project, vocal artist Elaine Mitchener casts a unique look upon the history of the sugar trade. “My ancestry includes enslaved Africans, sold by Africans to British traders to make Britain ‘great’ through the slave trade of sugar on plantations in the Caribbean and Brazil.”

SWEET TOOTH is a deeply personal project not only about Black history but an important chapter of British history and the pivotal role Black people have played in it.

This work is the result of an intensive research period involving 4 performers, an historical consultant and a movement director. SWEET TOOTH is part of an ambitious project in constant evolution, using different mediums to look upon the many aspects of Britain’s Atlantic legacies: music ensemble, installation, solo work, film.

SWEET TOOTH premiered on Thursday 23 November at Bluecoat Liverpool and is currently on tour. The premiere marked the culmination of a five year research by Mitchener into our love of sugar and the historical links between the UK sugar industry and the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Names and other details from the inventory of Simon Taylor, 1813, Jamaica.

Archives, Spanish Town, Jamaica (transcribed by Christer Petley).

SWEET TOOTH has been supported with public funding from Arts Council England. Commissioned by Bluecoat in partnership with the Stuart Hall Foundation, London and The International Slavery Museum with further support from PRSF Open Fund, Edge Hill University, Centre 151 and St George’s Bloomsbury.

The first stage of development for SWEET TOOTH has been supported with public funding from Arts Council England. Original research supported by Aldeburgh Music, University of Southampton, St George’s Bloomsbury, Centre 151. With further support from Harewood House Trust, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance and Bluecoat Liverpool.