147 women dinner party at Broomhill Estate, Motto ware, Mottoware, art, devon

Sophie Parkin x Mandee Gage

artist statement

147 Women Dinner Party by Sophie Parkin and Mandee Gage

Artist Statement

@147WomenDinnerParty an exhibition that came from lockdown 202O

 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? 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 common place maxims, ‘Its 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} Blue Plaques were for women since 1866, English Heritage have 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 each piece original and different, (just like women). I have decorated half of them; 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 a woman’s work, and to Commemorate Judy Chicago’s piece,The Dinner Party, which has 39 guests with elaborate 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.

Sophie Parkin