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Friday, August 27, 2010

Who's who at the wwp "Dinner Party"

Last evening's start of season members BBQ paid tribute to inspirational women who have made a significant - and all too often overlooked - contribution to 'herstory'. To this end, each of our participants came as a woman featured in Judy Chicago's internationally acclaimed 1970s art installation, The Dinner Party.

In Chicago's work, 39 women representing key areas in which women have moved the world forward from prehistory to modern times have their own ceramic and textile place setting at a triangular table. Emanating out from these 39 place settings are floor tiles upon which the names of another 999 influential women are written. Through bringing these incredible women to our attention, Judy Chicago seeks to give them their place in history. In creating this monumental piece (now on permanent exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum in New York) Chicago worked with a large number of female artisans and historical researchers, and celebrated women's traditional arts and crafts.

Guests were welcomed to our dinner party by Parisian salonniere Natalie Barney, whose salons on the Rue Jacob between 1909 and 1969 supported and encouraged women's flourishing in the arts. As we ate and drank, conversation revolved around the various alter egos in attendance at our dinner party as listed below...

Marianne (Karen Horney)
Kathy (Vita Sackville West)
Trudi (Gertrude Stein)
Janice (Sophia)
Pina (Isabella d'Este)
Liz (Dr Emily Stowe)
Wendy (Ethel Smyth)
Kim P (Kate Campbell Hurd-Mead)
Barbara Ann (Barbara Jane Harrison)
Carolyn (Georgia O'Keefe)
Heather D (Mary Lou Williams)
Sheelah (Elizabeth Blackwell)
Allannah (Emily Dickinson)
Sue (Helen Keller)
Bernice (Boadaceia)
Heather C (Mary Wollstonecraft)
Pat G (Joan of Arc)
Rose (as the inimitable Rose)
Rona (Jane Addams)
Linnet (Natalie Barney)
By correspondence:
Kim N (Hatshepsut)

Our task over the course of the evening was to discover those women new to us, and learn more about those of whom we had already heard. Equally important was to find out more about what matters to the real women present at the party - as revealed through our chosen alter ego.

Contributions to the meal we shared were exciting and delicious. And as always, the generosity and enthusiasm of our membership friends and guests was something to behold. We will let Bernice aka the mighty Boadaceia have the last word on the night...

"I, Queen Boadaceia, ruler of the Iceni, do hereby proclaim this dinner party to have been a royal success. Fight to the death - or live enslaved!!"

The next member's salon evening will take place on Thursday October 21st. This salon will take the form of a mini-conference on girls and education. If any member would like to present at this event please contact us. Presentations can take the form of a short written paper (5-7 mins) or a more casual talk from notes. Don't be shy. We have all been girls and we have all gone through some form of education, which means that everyone of us has something to contribute to this mini-conference. We already have 2 members signed up to speak (thanks Sue and Kathy!) and it would be great to have a couple more speakers.