‘They Come Then, The Birds’ is a new body of work by artist Amanda Coogan commissioned by Rua Red as part of the Magdalene Series. Curated by Rua Red Director Maolíosa Boyle with support from the Creative Ireland Programme.
The Magdalene series features five of Ireland’s leading artists responding to the figure of Mary Magdalene. ‘They Come Then, The Birds’, is the first exhibition in the series.
Coogan’s exhibition is inspired by the Wrens of the Curragh, a group of women who lived on the margins of society around the military camp at the Curragh, County Kildare, in the mid-19th century. Outcasts and prostitutes, or ‘camp followers’, the women lived and raised their families in ‘nests’ within the furze bushes.
The Wrens led a communal existence supporting each other through the sharing of food, child-rearing duties, and financially through the money they earned from their sex work. Coogan draws parallels between Mary Magdalene and the Wrens, both looked upon as social misfits; wayward and unmanageable women who refused to conform to societal rules. The work references the historical representation of Mary Magdalene in painting, tales of the Wrens of the Curragh, Christian and pagan ritual, sign language, the Wren boys, and the eye of providence.
The Magdalene series will continue until 2022 with exhibitions and interventions by Alice Maher, Rachel Fallon, Jesse Jones and Grace Dyas.
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