The Dinner Party / 2004

One of the first young people focused programmes at Orleans House Gallery, the Dinner Party marked the trajectory for Richmond Arts Service in building its expertise in supporting young people struggling with transitions into adulthood. We worked with artist Paddy Hartley to create a new site-specific installation, through a seven-month project between Orleans House Gallery, the Strathmore Centre and Richmond upon Thames Exclusions Unit, working with young people outside of formal education to create a site-specific installation.

Taking inspiration from Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party piece of 1979, young people created their own Dinner Party installation, site-specific to the baroque Octagon Room at Orleans House Gallery. They worked with artistPaddy Hartley to select their own icons as characters, and create sculptural tributes to each ‘guest’, in the form of ornate place settings, customised food and candelabras. As part of the installation, the group created a sound-piece of unseen dining guests gulping and digesting, of chinking glasses and conversation.

Young people interviewed and recorded each other at work, facilitated by video artist Meg Ferguson to create a video document of the process. As an exhibit, the project was used as the springboard for other educational work, and day-projects and schools classes took part in workshops developed in response to it.

The project was supported by Opening the Doors (Heritage Lottery Fund), The Art of Inclusion (Learning & Skills Council), and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

To view the evaluation report for the Dinner Party click here.