A period in history

A round-up of my social 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 an ashtanga yoga class. No warm-up was offered, nothing was 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 a lot of people, and not many women had been told that we need to make adjustment at different stages of the monthly cycle. So began a new artistic enquiry into women’s health.

SHAME, TABOO, AND WAVES OF CHANGE.

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

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

In May 2018 I produced ‘Crimson Waves Limerick’, an international group exhibition of art and writing. My own art continued to highlight how Direct Provision and period poverty was affecting women in Ireland.

ONLINE DURING THE PANDEMIC

In 2021 ‘She Flows Along’ was a continuation of the work, and because of restrictions during the height of Covid (and for months afterwards) I moved the project online to Facebook.

That group exhibition was a very different (and difficult) experience to live events. It took me months of work, and people who had not even applied to participate hijacked the project page with general ‘look at me’ posts without even referring to the themes of the exhibition!

In the end I moved the project, it became a safe space online, and then people shared all sorts of experiences and opinions as well as poetry and art. It was exhausting and I will not be curating a project on social media again. I will revert back to using my Facebook page only as a notice board.

SOCIALLY-ENGAGED SOLIDARITY

Both projects resonated with many women around the world, and over 85 artists and writers participated. I also produced a mulitgenerational chapbook of poetry during this time, but that’s another story.

The Cervical Smear atrocities, Vicky Phelan, Ruth Morrissey, and many others motivated me to keep going with art actions around women’s health, and now it is someone else’s turn: many of us around the country have put years into it all.

For Winter I will be making art for my own relaxation as well as taking specialised teacher training in ‘Yoga for the Stages of Menopause’.

WHAT NEXT

Spring will be a time of sharing, and I intend to deliver workshops and courses in Kerry and other locations as well as offering online options.

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