Elliptical Affinities: Irish Women Artists and the Politics of the Body, 1984 to the present

Elliptical Affinities: Irish Women Artists and the Politics of the Body, 1984 to the present

I had a date with myself on Friday 17th, headed off to Drogheda Highlanes Gallery to see an exhibition I was rather excited about seeing. Four decades of Irish women’s art, work that has informed me over the years, women that have inspired and taught me when I was a degree student. It’s quite a landmark event for this region, the North East of Ireland.

  1. Dorothy Cross Mr. & Mrs Holy Joe (1986)
  2. Rachel Fallon Maternal Chain of Office;Order of Our Lady of the Blessed Food Bank (2018)
  3. Rachel Fallon Mothers Medals 1-5 (2017)*
  4. Rachel Fallon The Assumption (2018) -my view from the stairs
  5. Rachel Fallon The Assumption (2018) – view of the top
  6. Alice Maher Hecate (2017)
  7. Louise Walsh Hydra Inlaw (1991/2019)
  8. Louise Walsh Hyrda Inlaw – view looking up
  9. Patricia Hurl (L to R) Madonna (1984-5), Irish Gothic (After Masaccio) (1987), The Kerry Babies Trial (1985)

This is just a highlight of some pieces – other artists included Aideen Barry, Sarah Browne, Amanda Coogan, Breda Lynch, Jesse Jones, Kathy Prendergast and Alanna O’Kelly. Whose work I know I will refer to in later blogs.

I also had a ticket booked for the symposium event at midday. The menu looked spicy and very relevant!

The Panel – (L to R): Patricia Hurl, Alice Maher, Rachel Fallon, Sarah Browne and Louise Walsh.
Introduction – Dr Fionna Barber, Art Historian and Co-Curator of Elliptical Affinities discussed the themes in the exhibition and its contexts. 

A Brief History of the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment – Cecily Brennan Artist and Feminist Activist 

Goddesses to Witches: Tales and Transformation of (and in) the Body 
– Professor Gill Perry  

Staying with the Body: Intergenerational, Feminist Collaboration in the Appearances Project (1999-2001) 
– Dr Kate Antosik-Parsons, Art Historian and Artist 

Panel Discussion with Exhibiting Artists: Alice Maher, Sarah Browne, Rachel Fallon, Patricia Hurl, Louise Walsh 

I took lots of notes, which I am working through and will collate in separate blog posts. There was lots of great energy and straight talking in the room, which was refreshing. No flat stuffy delivery, honest and vulnerable stories of experience. Perhaps it was the collaborative style, the inter-generational span of ages and a fluid spread of representation. At seeing this video emotions were high, especially as I am a baby born of this historically repressive controlled system. By combining practice and socio political engagement powerful results were achieved. The 8th Amendment Repealed. Our right to choice won. Long live Feminism!!


Video: Courtest of Cecile Brennan. As part of #EVA2018 in Limerick, Ireland’s Biennial, the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, selected by curator Inti Guerero to participate, organised a Repeal! Procession, starting at Limerick School of Art and Design, Limerick’s former Magdalene Laundry where unmarried pregnant women were incarcerated, unable to leave and made to work like slaves in the Magdalene Laundry. With an empowering rabble-rousing speech by Alice Maher, we started our solemn procession through Limerick city in their memory all of us remembering with sadness the women who had been mistreated and brutalised. This event is dedicated to them.

*Rachel Fallons Mother Medals listed (L to R). Medal for Bravery in the Face of Obstetric Violence. Medal for Mothering in Times of Hyper Vigilance. Medal for Mothering under Duress. Medal for Mothers in Anguish. Medal for Breast Feeding in Hostile Territories.