147 Women Dinner Party

Live 9th April - 1st May 2022

‘Know Thyself, Respect Thyself’

The Installation

I had a revelation whilst at The Temple of Apollo, Delphi, Greece where the High Priestess – Pythia foresaw and proclaimed. Why has nobody heard of Pythia I said to myself? Pythia held the most powerful position of any woman in the Ancient World, wrote 147 Maxims for humans to abide by, carved into the stones around the temple. Some of these have been adopted by every religion, most have been ascribed to Socrates or Plato or other male philosophers, after Pythia. Why?

I collect Motto Ware, this pottery comes originally from Devon where the terracotta clay was plentiful and was made by local potters, from the beginnings of tourism around 1860 for 100 years. Many women potters hand-painted them with cottages and made thousands of these pieces inscribed with commonplace maxims, ‘It’s better to wear out than rust out’, but not their names.

The cottage is a peculiar symbol of Britishness but does it represent us now post-Brexit, or even then? Like cottages, history has whitewashed women and their amazing achievements, in retrospect the men are left standing. In 2020 14{becadb6bdea5a41ab443f196aae132715666f0f63ec5a71582903b9f050de250} of Blue Plaques were for women since 1866, English Heritage has thought worthy, 900 in existence roughly, the rest are to men. 147 Maxims, 147 Women of Britain who should be better remembered, who were celebrated in their day. With time on my hands during the pandemic, I thought this was the moment to find a ceramicist interested in making and decorating 147 pieces!

I found Mandee Gage to collaborate with. Mandee has handmade everything, each piece is original and different, (just like women). I have decorated half of them, and Mandee decorated the others; all of them are dedicated to the women named on their bases. Mandee and I are stamped into each piece too. Women And Men have made this country. This is what it means to be British. 147 Women became Dinner Party because we saw the installation laid out like a dinner table, traditionally woman’s work, and to commemorate Judy Chicago’s piece, The Dinner Party, which has 39 guests with large, handmade ceramic plates and elaborately embroidered place settings that took scores of women to make. Mandee and I alone have done everything, including the book that accompanies the exhibition with potted bios, an image and of course each individual dedicated piece.

These women were and are exceptional, they fought to live lives larger than their own and we believe more women should be recognised for their contribution.


Wall pictures are accompanied with Biographies of each of the women
Aphra Behn (left) and Elizabeth Taylor (right)
Nelly Powers (left) & Vivienne Westwood (right)
Nancy Cunard
Mary Wolstonecraft

A Renaissance Woman

Sophie Parkin

An artist, writer, mother, broadcaster, journalist and businesswoman, co-owner of Vout-O-Reenees and The Stash Gallery. She has had 9 books published incl ‘The Colony Room Club; a history of Soho’, 4 one women shows and  co-presenter/ producer of podcast @ShadowSpies.

Multi-disciplinary artist

Mandee Gage

A mixed media artist, teacher and ceramicist whose work refers to human rights, the environment and societies engagement with it. Gage ran Hybrid Art and Science group for 10 years. She has shown extensively in the UK and Internationally from Oaxaca in Mexico, to the Venice Biennale.

Books available

Take the history home with you

Alongside the Motto Ware itself, books will be available for purchase at the exhibition.

Charlie Powell

Curator's comment

“We’re really excited to be able to host Sophie Parkin and Mandee Gage’s incredible works in Devon, the birthplace of this particular style of ceramic ware.

Our vision for Broomhill is to celebrate contemporary art which demonstrates viability in terms of its purpose and moves beyond being performative through active contribution to social and environmental causes. Championing these underserved icons whilst celebrating traditional crafts and techniques is very much a part of that ethos and this exhibition embodies it perfectly”