A period in history

A round-up of my recent socially-engaged arts practice.

SHE FLOWS ALONG

She flows along’ concludes a 5-year cycle of socially-engaged art.

It all began in 2017 when some of my yoga students told me that they had been to a yoga class in Limerick that was very physical. No warm-up was offered, nothing had been mentioned about menstruation, and two of the girls felt unwell afterwards (they had their periods at the time).

In the next few weeks I spoke to more people, and very few women had been educated about the different stages of the monthly cycle. So began a new artistic enquiry into women’s health.

SHAME, TABOO, AND WAVES OF CHANGE.

It was obvious from the start that there was massive shame around periods in Ireland. For one year I painted pictures, produced visual communication using my photos, and wrote poetry about menstruation, taboo, menopause, and more.

Conversations with women at different life stages showed me that there was huge interest in the topics, so I expanded the project.

In May 2018 ‘Crimson Waves’ opened: it was an international group exhibition of art and writing. My own art continued to highlight how period poverty was affecting women in Ireland.

ONLINE DURING THE PANDEMIC

She Flows Along’ (2021) was a continuation of the work. Because of social restrictions during the height of Covid I moved the project online to Facebook.

The online group exhibition was a very different (and difficult) experience. It took a huge amount of work and energy. People spammed the page too, so in the end I moved the project and created a private safe space online. It was exhausting and I reverted back to using my Facebook page as a notice board only after that.

ART AS SOLIDARITY

The Cervical Smear atrocities, my mother who died at 48, Vicky Phelan, Ruth Morrissey, my ancestors, and many other women past and present motivated me to keep going.

Both projects resonated with many women around the world, and 88 artists and writers participated. I also produced a mulitgenerational chapbook of poetry during that time.

WHAT NEXT

I have taken specialised training in teaching ‘Yoga for the Stages of Menopause’, and my intention is to focus on ‘my’ yoga women and students for the next few years.

Art will once again, become my meditation as I breathe deeply and enjoy playing with the movement of colour.

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