Execution, 1991, Heuston Station, Dublin
This work was created for Women Artists and the Environment and installed at Heuston Station, Dublin. The event was organised by the Women Artist Action Group (WAAG) as part of Ireland's year as the European Culture Capital in 1991. You can read an interview with one of the organisers here.
The work was tricky to install. It comprised of 16 sets of two phosphor bronze foil sheets, each 6 ft long. A student helped me smoke one edge of each piece with candle flame. The surface was both tough and fragile, like skin. In fact it was damaged by overhead sprinklers cleaning the station roof not long before the exhibition ended. The work was my response to the Easter Rising in 1916, an event which resonates today as the last rising against the English prior to Ireland becoming a Republic.
I was one of ten women artists invited to make work for the event which sited works along the River Liffey from Heuston Station, where my work was located, to the Project Arts Centre. WAAG was part of the International Association of Women Artists (IAWA). Each of ten women artists groups in the association chose an artist to represent their country. I was chosen by the Women Artists Slide Library (WASL).
WAAG also organised a conference, Women Artists and the Environment, held at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA). To my delight, the Guerilla Girls also attended (I have always wanted to be a Guerrilla Girl), and I was thrilled to be at dinner with them and all the other women artists. Interestingly IMMA is very near Kilmainham Gaol where the political prisoners involved in Ireland’s struggle for independence were imprisoned. Included amongst those held here were the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, 14 of whom were executed by firing squad in the Stonebreaker’s yard. The Gaol was closed in 1924 but was preserved as a national monument in the 1960s and restored by the Kilmainham Gaol Restoration Committee. It was handed over to the State in 1986 and today is run as a museum.
For many reasons it was one of the most memorable exhibitions and events to be involved in. The Irish women artists and seemingly everyone in the city was so friendly and helpful. I recall needing a lot of help as my budget was so very tight. The Stationmaster helped me get an Irish translation of an interpretive text for the work. He insisted there was something there because he didn't like artwork being exhibited without any information. And I'll never forget the ticket collector who worked next the installation. One day he came up to me and said he didn't know anything about modern art, but he really liked the work. That meant so much.
In 1992 I made an installation which expanded the theme of execution for Chronicle, a three-person show at the Brixton Art Gallery with Françoise Dupré and Jane Barratt.