‘This Woman’s Work’ will be a collaborative piece with members of Galway community. Launching from the project that Erin Darcy and members of Galway East for Choice created as memorial of the 796 Tuam babies, and protest to the Pope’s visit to Ireland in 2018 – the iconic sheets will be reused yet again, and made into a tapestry for display.
Weaving ourselves through history, embroidery has been a lost art, identified as a craft – as it is primarily women’s work. In Ireland, the most eminent of Irish Saints had one or more female embroiderers in their households, chiefly employed to make ornamentation of church robes and vestments.
The women and girls of Mother and Baby homes across Ireland were enslaved by the church to pay penance for their stay, in the form of back breaking work – including washing sheets. They gave their lives, and their babies to an institution that victimized , humiliated, and abused them. It is only 21 years since the closure of the last Mother and Baby home in Ireland.
This project brings together storytelling, social awareness, community healing, church and government responsibility. Listening to the needs of the people to excavate the grave site; give name and proper resting place for families to feel a sense of freedom, closure and restitution from the institution that controlled and continue to abuse many. The investigation will be looking at living conditions, care arrangements, infant mortality, burial arrangements, vaccine trials, illegal adoption, social attitudes, and women’s pathways in and out of these institutions.
Our tapestry created together will be a piece of living history. We aim to display the final piece in Galway, and to travel the country to bring awareness and textile form of history for audiences to interact with.
Photographs will be taken and displayed, as well as video of women creating together in community. Historic research will be added to the display detailing women’s history of embroidery and tapestry storytelling.
Erin Darcy invites women of the Galway community to participate in this time honoured tradition of sewing together, oral story telling and passing down this handy craft. Each stitch carrying the intention, love, tenderness, and devotion to the memory of these women, and their children.