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Mná Cruthaitheacha: Creative Women in the Spotlight

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4 min read

Mná Cruthaitheacha: Creative Women in the Spotlight

4 min read

5/01/22

Mná Cruthaitheacha: Creative Women in the Spotlight

Creative traditions among women run deep in Ireland, from the distinctive styles of lacemakers in Kenmare, Carrickmacross and Limerick in the 1700s right up to the painters, musicians, sculptors, actors, photographers, dancers, architects and many more of our modern times.

Surnames such as O’Connor, O’Riordan, Rooney and Ronan, originating from every corner of our island, have become household names the world over, gracing marquees, playbills,  programmes and more. 

While there’s no way to capture the essence of the wonderful women of Ireland in just one article – and there are far too many accomplished and inspiring ladies doing incredible work all across our nation to ever name here – we’re shining a spotlight on just some of the incredible mná involved in Creative Ireland-funded projects this year. 

Above:

Farah Elle and Caroline Moreau, International Song Group

Led by the wonderful duo of singer/songwriter Farah Elle and singing instructor and recording artist Caroline Moreau, the International Song Group weekly workshop programme provides women in the Drogheda area with a supportive, multicultural space where they can share their love of music and song and develop their singing skills in a safe environment.

With inclusivity at the heart of the project, members are encouraged to exchange songs from their individual traditions and develop cultural links between the various communities that make up Irish society.

 

Above: Lisa Fingleton. Photo: Manuela Dei Grandi

Lisa Fingleton, artist

Lisa’s focus on environmental issues in her creative practice led to her being named the Embedded Artist for Dingle’s ‘Corca Dhuibhne Inbhuanaithe – A Creative Imagining’ Creative Climate Action project. 

Described as “…an ideal candidate for (the) role”, by Catríona Fallon of the Green Arts Initiative in Ireland, Lisa’s work will involve a close collaboration with farmers on the peninsula, exploring how creativity and farming can address the climate emergency in new, engaging ways.

Áine Ní Ghríofa and McKenzie Lowe, musicians

Two of just six young artists (of 500 outstanding entries) selected for Irish charity Kinia’s Creative Tech Fest ‘Guth ‘21’ recording, Áine and McKenzie both had the opportunity in late 2021 to record an original song and accompanying music video in Dublin’s iconic Windmill Lane Studios – home to recordings by the likes of the Rolling Stones and Lady Gaga. 

Áine is a native Irish speaker from Gaeltacht Chonamara, while Dublin-based McKenzie develops and records her music with Finglas Youth Service.

Above: Ailbhe Gerrard & Deirdre O'Mahony

Ailbhe Gerrard, farmer

Beekeper, researcher, agricultural educator, and founder of Tipperary’s Brookfield Farm, Ailbhe is working alongside artists Deirdre O’Mahony and John Gerrard to deliver the ‘Field Exchange’ project – one of 15 of our €2 million Creative Climate Action Fund projects. 

Her expansive experience in ​​sustainable development and organic farming and love for the lifestyle and the land will inform a programme of 12 days of exchange tables over 12 weeks in 2022, bringing together art, food, and agriculture to allow artists, farmers, scientists, and experts to collaborate on ways to combat climate change.

Sylvia Cullen and Joanna Hyde, podcast hosts

Writer Sylvia Cullen of ‘Where Three Waters Meet’ and musician and co-presenter of ‘On The Wireless’ are two ladies taking the Irish airwaves by storm with their smart, engaging audio content.

In ‘Where Three Waters Meet’, supported by Wexford County Council in partnership with Creative Ireland, Cullen leads listeners through a selection of short stories set in County Wexford. Each instalment presents a different aspect of what it can mean to survive in dire circumstances, with characters facing traumatic choices and having to dig deep to find ways to endure.

In the Cork County Council/Creative Ireland supported ‘On The Wireless’ pod, creativity and memory are at the fore, with musical duo Joanna Hyde and Tadgh Ó Meachair spotlighing real-life stories about the importance of creative expression and the many ways we can nurture it.

Roisin Whelan, dance artist, and Bridget Flannery, visual artist

In 2021, a six-week programme of 1-to-1 dance workshops was held on the doorsteps of older members of the Carlow community by professional dance artist Roisin Whelan. Part of the Creative Ireland ‘Creativity in Older Age’ programme, the workshops brought much-needed movement, socialising, and creative expression to folks who had experienced long periods of isolation due to the pandemic. 

Accompanying Roisin on the visits was visual artist Bridget Flannery, who captured the sessions in an artwork which was then given to the older person.

Techinee Nawaing and Niamh Porter, fashion designers

Two of three talented young creatives who joined the Junk Kouture community while in secondary school in Ireland, Techinee and Niamh starred alongside fellow designer Cian Newman in Junk Kouture’s extraordinary Creative Ireland-commissioned documentary ‘Waking the Muse’, which aired in October 2021 on RTE2. 

19-year-old Techinee from Athlone and 24-year-old Niamh from Donegal both rose to the challenge along with Cian to design, source and create a unique clothing item to be modelled in New York for Climate Week NYC, during which Junk Kouture was the Sustainable Living partner.

Above: Sligo born artist Friz pictured at her mural at St. Finbarr’s Road, Cork, as part of Ardú Street Project 2021. Photo by Jed Niezgoda

Friz, Naoise Sheridan, Margaret Nolan, Tracey Moca, Louise Gardiner, Marie Moylan, and Giordana Giaché, street artists 

We were extremely proud in 2021 to have been one of the largest funders of street art and mural projects in Ireland. Projects that brightened walls and hoardings across the country included the work of Sligo artist Friz, whose Ardú mural at St. Finbarr’s Road, Cork depicted the goddess Clíodhna. 

In Galway, the works of Naoise Sheridan, Margaret Nolan and Tracey Moca were among the 100 works of electricity box art adding pops of colour to the cityscape. Over in Kerry, Louise Gardiner – better known as Mack Signs – helped GW Joyce reimagine quotes from poet Brendan Kennelly and author Maurice Walsh into attention-grabbing murals, while in Monasterevin, Marie Moylan brought a little bit of nature to utility boxes around the town. 

And in Ennis, artist Giordana Giaché teamed up with husband Martin Shannon to turn humble drain grates into humorous works of playful street art. 

Above:

Holly Pereira, This Is Art Club! 

Following on from the enormous success of This Is Art! competition, RTÉ are bringing young artists and art lovers the all-new This Is Art Club!, a weekly series showcasing the making of different kinds of art for young artists and art lovers across Ireland.

Illustrator Holly Pereira is known for her bold, bright murals seen all across the country. She joins up-and-coming artist Shane Keeling to bring you the new series.

“I’m excited to see the ideas and thought processes of all the young artists on This Is Art Club! […] They will shape the art world in the coming fifty years,” she says.  ⁣ ⁣

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