Basement show for Hannah
When local art student Hannah Martin put pieces of her college work on display on the doors of the old St Joseph's Laundry in Castle Street last year, she little knew it would lead to her showing her work at The Basement Gallery in An Tain Arts Centre.
Hannah, who is a second year student in NCAD studying textile art & artefact and education,
was invited by Paul Hayes, Director of An Tain to exhibit her work in in the gallery which opens this Wednesday night.
The exhibition is entitled 'Faceless, Voiceless, Nameless', and the twenty year old from Inniskeen says: 'It is about the inhumane treatment the women and children of the Madgalene laundries experienced.'
'The term 'Fallen Women' was used to describe a woman who has 'lost her innocence'. These women were often sent to laundries where they could pay for their 'sins'. It is estimated that 30,000 women were sent to these laundries in Ireland.'
Her initial inspiration for the project came from looking through old family pictures.
'I began to put stories together in my head of different scenarios that may or may not have existed, being particularly interested in the women and children of the photographs,' she says. The publicity around the Repeal 8th campaign prompted her to begin looking at what happened to women with unwanted pregnancies in the past, leading her to researching the Magdalene Laundries.
'Coming from a Catholic School, I've never had anything but respect for the nuns that taught me, however the history of many of their practices is rather terrifying,' she says.
'An incredible Facebook page, Justice for Magdalenes, is what truly started my journey. I was fortunate enough to gain contact with one of the survivors who told me her horrific experience of the laundry, where she was sent completely unwillingly after the birth of her child which was out of wedlock. Assured she was going to a mother and baby home, she was effectively kidnapped and sent to a Magdalene Laundry.'
Hannah then drew on her research to create an outstanding series of pieces highlighting the plight of thousands of mostly young women and their children, who were essentially airbrushed out of history.
Her pieces are all fabric based, using calico, and she has used a variety of techniques to create haunting pieces.
The most striking aspect of her creations are the images of women and children in the pieces, created using embroidery and printing.
'Some of them are old family pictures, while others are completely random,' she explains. 'The most important part of the pieces is their lack of mouths, the absence of a voice. Forced into these laundries against their own will, stripped from their pride, and tortured for their so called sins, Fallen Women were not believed to be worthy of a voice.
' Red threads throughout my project mark the tallying of days, weeks, months, years, the women spent in these horrific laundries. These red threads are prominent throughout my entire collection.
She has also printed images onto the fabric, taking a series of quotes from an interview with of some survivors which she watched. 'The quotes are purposely extremely faint, showing that these women existed but still, to this day, their voices are not always heard.'
'Faceless, Voiceless, Nameless' opens on Wednesday at 7pm and runs until Saturday. It will then tour to venues in Carrickmacross, Dublin and Cork.