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The Dinner Party

I am fascinated by how different we all are and how differently we can behave

and relate to one another, depending on how we are feeling at any particular

time. The reality is that all of us act at times, for a whole variety of reasons

often to conceal our real feelings or to not let someone down.

‘The dinner party’ was originally my response to a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s in

the family; we had no idea that changes inside this person were going on over

time until the behaviour made it obvious. Unfortunately, many people struggle

to put on a brave face when inside all is far from well.


I chose the setting of a

social gathering; a dinner party, as occasions such as these present their own

pressures. All present tend to want to put their best foot forward…to put on a

good show.

The installation was a collection of hand thrown porcelain plates as

metaphors, each representing a guest’s character, personality trait or



The plates had been appropriately decorated to provide the clues,

and my supporting artists, photographic artist Nathanael Smyth and

metalsmith, Joel Smyth, provided additional layers of interest; photography,

table sculpture and sound installation to add to the setting.

It was in one way a fun gathering of a few extremes in one place, in the rather

safe form of a dinner plate, yet in another sense provoked viewers to consider

what unhappiness may lie behind the masks which many wear.

It was also a comment on contemporary living, as these are supposedly better

times to live in than ever, with advanced technologies, greater wealth, and no

end of social (media) engagement. But we have an epidemic of mental health

issues and problematic relationships…..

As viewers looked around the installation, the plates revealed something of

those who dined here and they were asked which plates reminded them of

someone they knew…or even themselves…

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