Tate Kids


William Scott, Mackerel on a Plate, 1951-2

Mackerel on a Plate is by a part-Scottish, part-Irish painter called William Scott. He was very interested in arranging shapes together, and made simple pictures that look really bold. He liked to paint still-lifes – like food, flowers and everyday objects. He painted lots of pictures of fish and kitchen things lying on a bare table.

He said ‘I find beauty in plainness’, because he saw that normal things can be special, when you look at them closely. This painting will be at Tate St Ives until May 2013, so you can go and see it for yourself!

Why do you think the kitchen is so dark? Who do you think caught this fish? Who will eat it? Will anyone get the chance to eat it, or will a cat pinch it?

© The estate of William Scott

32 stories about “William Scott, Mackerel on a Plate, 1951-2”

  1. Lauren, age 9, from Scotland

    There once was a fish, who lived with his mother, father and sister. His parents told him and his sister many a time never to swim away on his own. But he was a curious fish, and soon, once he knew that no-one was watching, he swam away into the darkness….
    At that precise moment, a fisherman, by the name of Jim Peters, was letting down his net. Soon he could see that lots of fish had been caught, so he hauled it in. One of the fish, as you might have guessed, was our little fish that swam away.
    Then, because it was nearly six o’ clock, Jim started sailing his fishing boat back to shore. Afterwards he took his load and sold it to the fishmonger, who was delighted at the amount of fish there was. Jim them went home, after a long day’s work.
    The next morning, Mrs Gloria Walker was out on her daily shopping when she heard that last night, the fishmonger had bought a big load of good-quality fish from one of the fishermen. Gloria thought about the things sHe was he would need fish for – hers and Mr. Walker’s dinner, the cat’s breakfast, the… oh well, she would just buy the fish and afterwards she would use it wherever she needed it. So she strode up the street until she came to the fishmonger’s shop. It had a new sign – P.A. Newman Fishmongers QUALITY FISH – in navy writing. As she went in, our friend the fish trembled with fear. He had been already cooked in a huge oven – torture!
    Gloria decided to buy him and another half dozen fish. She then left and ambled on home with her package of fish and other goods.
    At 69 Wood Lane she decided to give herself and her husband a dinner of our little friend! Oh well. I suppose it serves him right for not listening to and disobeying his parents.

  2. ismail, age 10, from LONDON

    once upon a time there was a mysterious fish.his name was leon when he was born .after few year by the time his mother died.only there was his brother and sister .somebody found us and and brought a new owner that liked fish.in each bowl of water was my sister and brother.after a few weeks they father came to the pet shop his sister kelly screamed daddy .soon they found daddy and lived all together.

  3. dan, age 8, from eygpt

    there was a baby born by the queen named cendrella.when the mother queen died candrella was still a baby so the king was so sad about his wife so he diceided to marry again. the king did marry a discuasting queen and she had a very hard heart like a rock. then the king died and cendrella was young about 24 and the queen had two doughters they were twins they were so bad.the queen forsed pour cendrella to work all day and all night. she just sat all day in the kitchin and ate a dry peice of bread each day.one day a leter araived to cendrellas house and it said:im the prince i would ivite you to a ball to see who i can marry.woohooooo shuted the sisters he wil marry me they both said no he will marry me said the biggest sister no he will marry me because im younger than you and they started fighting.cendrella did make up them. then they went to the ball and left cendrella behind. she was cring suddenly a fairy goodmother appeared why are you cring she asked cendrella because i dident go to the ball. ok i will make you go acracadabra she shouted then cendrella had a nice dress and slippersand a cart. here you go but you have to be back beforthe clock strucs 12 she added. ok cendrella replied then she whent to the ball. the prince did dance with her until the clock struced 12 then cendrella whent running and left her slipper bihind.i will find that prinsess . then he went to the houses and then he went to sendrellas house. it didint fit on the sisters then cendrella tried the sliper then they took cendrella back to the palce then then cendrella and the prince lived hapily ever after and the sisters had to work all day and all night.

  4. FAITH, age 8, from Scotland

    salum the cat
    once upon a time there was a cat named salum he loved soup he woudnt go anywhere withot his soup he’d go in the car with it he’d go to the bookstore with it he’d go to the supermarket with the soup he’d go anywhere with the soup exept one place the train want to know why? he did’nt want other people to touch his soup and i thought it was weird because why? would people want to touch soup? well i did not know because the cat weird just weird he was number 1 at being weird and the weirdest thing is that he did all of those things and he’s a cat!!!!!!


  5. ben, age 45, from japan

    there was a child called chole who loved fishing one day he went fishing with her dad and called him bob and they were friends forever but sadly one year later bob past away

  6. konyi, age 9, from scotland

    once a fish then he died!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Cosimo, age 11, from Italy

    The long morning had been well, long. It had been especially like this for James Nipper: one of the many fishermen of Heghmorough, in the eastern part of England. Old James, that day, had only caught two small, wiry mackerels.
    He gave the tiniest one to the cat and placed the other one on the table. Mr. Nipper washed and went to sleep. He hadn’t remembered about the cat!
    Bonnyhood( the cat) saw his opportunity and leaped up on the table, slurping the mackerel down in a single gulp!!
    James Nipper thought he heard something and woke up with a shout. The fisherman predicted it was the cat and quickly went downstairs. What he so didn’t surprise him.

  8. Claudio, age 10, from China

    A morning like others a fisherman named Jake Marsh in early morning the net of his fall into the water and after a few minutes lots of fish were in his nets, about 205.

  9. Kim, age 9, from Southington

    The person that did this Historical Was Fantastic.

  10. shezad, age 8, from PAKISATN

    mackere on a plate is by A PART

  11. ciara, age 11, from cheltenham

    there once was a young fish, who lived with his mother, father and two sisters. his mother and father advised him not to swim out in the ocean all on his own because there were dangerus things out in the open, then one day our little friend was bored so he disided to go for a little swim, as he swam very quietly past his mother in the kichen, one of his sisters swam up behing him and said “were are you going, because if i think your going were i think your going its a very bad idea” but the little fish just looked at her and swam out of the door and in to the blue. after a few days past he realised that he had made a big mistake he swam back and forword thinking which way he should go after about 10 mins (thats in our time in fish time its about 1 hour) had past he just started crying and crying then he saw some thing above him as he swam up the shape of this object looked liked his mother , as he swam faster and faster to this shape he was suddenly cought in the biggest net he had ever seen (and he had see aout 4) as he was lifted out of the water he stuggeld and stuggled to try and get out.then he waa put on to a box full of ice as he tryed to scream for help he could feel his gills geting dryer and dryer but as he tryed to scream for the last time he could only see blackness. now that our little fishy friend was in the great fish bowl in the sky wer have to tell what happends to him.
    our little friend ends up in a fish and chip shop ( pretty rubbish place to be berred isnt it!!! ) and he was bought by a man called bob jeffery and he was served with tomato ketchep and salt.


  12. noah nixon, age 7, from canada

    in a closed restaurant in new york city there was a fish. A fisherman named sam caught the fish and gave it to Max. Max owns the restaurant, he is the chef. He wanted to cook and serve the fish to his friend named Gossamer, but his friend Gossamer didn’t show up. The traffic was too bad. So, now the fish is waiting to be refrigerated.

  13. dina s, age 9, from likre

    One day I see a beutieful flower.

  14. Catilin, age 11, from Ireland

    Once, Deep down in the big blue sea, there was a yellow fish named Gillian. All the sea creatures laughed at him, Because Gillian had no friends. He was swimming sadly past his Sea shell house and sat near some colourful rocks “I wish i had a friend, Everyone laughs at me!” as he was feeling Depressed, a Starfish and a jellyfish happened to swim by, then the starfish plopped down on a green rock beside Gillian “Hey there! You feeling down? Got the Bubbles?” (The Bubbles were feeling sad) “Yes, all the creatures in my class laugh at me, I have no friends!” the jellyfish replied “We can be your friends, Im Roy and the starfish’s name is Lewis” Gillian was getting happier, he made some friends! At last, he can prove to the others he has a friend, No, 2 friends! Next day, Gillian arrived to school, in class where Connor Catfish, Tina turtle and Olivia Octopus were in a group “Look! Its little Gillian, the fish with no friends!” Olivia chuckled with the whole class ‘Wrong! i have 2 friends!” Gillian laughed as Roy and Lewis popped up behind him “Gillian! A Jellyfish and a Starfish!” the whole class croweded round Gillian and all were friends! The End

  15. rebecca, age 11, from england

    a fish went swimming a died

  16. katie, age 10, from yerba

    ( P.S sorry, this is a horror story do not read if you are scared. thanks :) )
    once upon a time a few years ago, the ground started to shake… a space ship came out of nowhere!!!!!

    thanks for reading…….lawl!!!

  17. freya johnson, age 9, from england

    Once thier was an old fisherman.He was’nt a good fisherman mostly he’d be lucky to catch a shrimp.But one day an mircle happened.He was in scotland fishing when he had great tug on the line he winded the line back up and there wiggled a mackerel and ever since that day he always mackerel and chips for his dinner.

    the end……………

  18. Milly-Lane, age 12, from Scotland

    “Granddad!” shouted 16 year old Jason.
    “My dear boy what is it?” asked Granddad, Sitting in his rocking chair on the front porch of his cottage “I caught a fish!” He showed Granddad, “My boy thats an amazing fish! What kind of fish is it?” asked Granddad, Jason smiled “This is a Mackerel! The one the painter painted, His name is William Scott, He painted it on a plate, And YOUR going to help me cook it for supper!” jason winked, Grandad chuckled “Of cource my boy, Anything for my ONLY grandchild!”

    It was supper time. Granddad, Jason and Nan, were all having the Mackerel. “This fish is divine! Its so beautifully well cooked!” Nan chuckled and chewed the Mackerel slowly “You know, William Scott, He PAINTED the Mackerel!” Jason said with a jolly smiled “The best painted fish ever was!” Jason and Grandad said, And ALL burst out laughing!

  19. Cathy Young, age 40, from United Kingdom

    We all like to think that fish are just like us, with mums and dads, bedrooms and toys, best friends and the like, but the truth is, fish are very very different to us. You see, fish are really quite happy with the life of a fish: swimming, eating smaller fish, trying not to be eaten by bigger fish, maybe making a new lot of baby fish and that’s about it. That’s not to say they are unhappy, or bored, it’s just they are different.

    The fish you see here is no different from any other mackerel fish you may see. May it is a little longer, or shorter, or fatter, or thinner, but essentially, it is just another mackerel.

    So, is this just any old mackerel? Far from it. Even though the life of a fish may seem pretty meaningless to us, the real glory for a fish is how well it lives as a fish, and only when you understand this, you will understand this is possibly the most magnificent mackerel that ever lived.

    Remember, apart from swimming and eating (usually other fish), one of the purposes of a fish’s life is to be a meal for another fish. This is hard to understand for most of us, who will almost certainly never be eaten by anyone or anything, but remember that fish are very, very different from us.

    This fish has swum in waters so beautiful that you and I are not privileged enough to even sail over. It has caught the slipperiest of fishes for its food. It has escaped the most determined of bigger fish. It has given the seas countless new mackerel to keep the cycle of sea life turning. And one day, it swam into the fishing line of a very kind and splendid fellow, who had an eye for beauty, living in a beautiful house, surrounded by and filled with many beautiful things. Upon drawing this mackerel in, he at once recognised the glory in this magnificent creature, and after swiftly killing the fish, took him home, laid him upon a fine board, and before eating it, spent several painstaking hours making this fish immortal by telling his story in this wonderful picture.

  20. Ava B, age 9, from london

    One marvelous monday the happy Fox family Eric,Roxy,Hector and Lily went on holiday .The children were so excited and curious since there father Eric even booked the smashing holiday on his IFox basically a fox version of a Iphone witch was made out of a strong chicken bone with green and yellow leaves for decoration from the shop the pear store.The fox family went by a carriage and horse made out of sticks leaves and so on.When they finished packing there velvett suitcase they headed of to The Foxes Hut in Potters Bar,London .When they finally got to The Foxes Hut it was very dark and very quiet but the foxes were wide awake, but of course they are nocturnal!So wen they came into the hotel they walked Straight to the receptionist well actually a baron but you can call him the receptionist to because hes a proper gentelmen , his clothes are incredibly smart he has a thin white shirt underneath a beautiful burgundy waist coat made out of pure velvett,and has some lovely glasses.”Hello,Eric how are you”the Baron said poshly.
    “Fine thank you”Eric said nicely ,”Your room is upstairs room 1″he said while giving Eric his key.Then Lily and Hector ran upstairs to have a beautiful,silver, thin and tasty macrel excitedly as the parents walked slowly smiling and licking there lips and shared the lovely beautiful fish and went to sleep with a full tummy

  21. Sakura, age 14, from Galifrea

    “Ugh, Mum, I hate fish and you know that!”, is what I say to my mum but she’s all “Too bad because it’s good for you.” and I’m all, “It’s not if it makes me gag!” and she’s all, “It’s good protein.” And I’m all, “SO?!?” And she’s all, “Eat your fish.”
    Why don’t mums EVER answer that protien question?!?

  22. Robin J B, age 32, from UK

    Once there was a woman called Irene married to a man called Leslie. She had two children, Hayley and Robin. Hayley in turn married Gavin and had two children also – called Seth and Millie.

  23. bobbi, age 7, from liverpool

    There was a fish who lived with his mother,, father sister.

  24. zeinb, age 9, from scotland

    once up time there was a baby fish with it’s father, sister, mother, and a brother they all went to the the lake with it’s family the there was a lovely house they went in side and they live there for ever they end

  25. Tilly Newth, age 9, from England

    The fish of the sea don’t know what will happen to them when the net comes. Maybe they think they`re going to be taken to a tank or to another part of the sea but there was this one little fish that knew what would happen, he knew what would happen when the fishermen came with there big boat and there big net for the fish. This fish was a mackerel and one day the dreaded net came, he knew what would happen as he felt that gush of water as the terrifying thing came, all of his cousins, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters and his mum and dad got gushed into the net. “Don`t go in” He cried but they didn`t listen and before he knew they were almost gone out of the water but something was pushing him into the net like there was another one. Dinner time. That one poor little fish got swept up out of the water and didn`t come back.

  26. sue, age 9, from london

    “what a long day it has been!” said jack mackerel (fishing major) to his wife. he caught a fish, a little one, and thought what a shame to eat it so kept it in a little bowl one day the fish died. he was heartbroken so his wife cooked it for his dinner a guess what! it was a yummy fish and he regretted not eating it.

  27. callum, age 6, from birmingham (england

    The school is on fire by callum
    Long … long ago in 1987 there was a school called S.T teds school.
    “its school time ” said harries mum.
    everyone was at school rinnnnng went the bell “ahh” said the children “theres a fire”
    the teacher M.R Smith got all of the children and the school rang 999
    “the school is On fire”?! said the chief of the firestation
    the bell rang in the firestation “what is it”? said fireman james
    “a fire at the school” said the chief of the firestation
    the firetruck was on its way bee baa bee baa rung the bell on the firetruck they have arrived at the school “i think we need 2 hoeses” said james the firefighter
    “ok” said the chife of the firestaion
    splash! the hose went “Yay yay”! said the children THE END

  28. Buddikah, age 12, from Hogwarts

    Slowly you floated to the bottom of the ocean. Then you looked up and saw the net, you tried to move but couldn’t; caught in some seaweed! The net whisked you up and the next minute you were in a small box with lots of other fish. You couldn’t breath but you managed to live! You got put into a small bag filled with water. A small girl picked you up and put you in a fish tank! She cut open the bag and you swam out into the cool, clear water…
    A tall man whisked you up in his big palm and chucked you into a big frying pan! “Daddy, NO!” The girl shouted but it was too late! You were served with salt and pepper and chips as a Friday night tea!

  29. helen, age 8, from cambodia

    There was a fish she had no friends. One day she went to day she went to the midnight zone then she was flat! When she was home one her every one knew.

  30. ciara, age 12, from cheltemham

    when i’m older I want to work in a fish and chip shop mom!!

    bobby NOOOO!!!

  31. Isabel, age 9, from england

    “what are you reading?” asked Millie to Rose. ” I’m reading all about mackerel, and it says here that they wont perish even if they get set on fire.” But before Millie got to answer the school bell rang and they had to go to the next class which was science and they were working with highly flammable chemicals (but they didn’t know that yet). As since was the last lesson of the day Rose relaxed and by accident split one of the chemicals on her shirt but no body noticed.Rose had a normal evening, she got home and ate her best food which was mackerel when the chemical rubbed against her sofa and caused a fire. So Rose burnt to death but the fire just grew and destroyed the whole town, the only thing that was left was mackerel on a plate.

  32. JACK, age 10, from SERBIA