Remembering the Mothers & Babies…

AN enthralling exhibition of paint, sculpture, and photography. It takes its title from Elizabeth Cope’s recently complete triptych 9,000 Babies? and the accompanying Portrait of Child Mother is running Kilkenny’s Shankill Castle unit; Sunday, August 22.
The pieces were inspired by the history of the Mother and Baby Homes, recently in the news, and Cope’s personal experience of visiting the Magdalene laundry in Athy, Co Kildare on two occasions as a child, where she was able to see the girls washing sheets at the large vats. The artist, who now lives at works at Shankill Castle, believes that the issue of the Mother and Baby Homes is an important subject to raise awareness on, and that the survivors should be recompensed by the Church for the tragedies suffered.
The 9,000 Babies? exhibition features a Magdalene laundry installation, including Elizabeth’s paintings and various historic props to re-create the atmosphere of what a Magdalene laundry would have been like.
Sculptor Ruth Barry, whose mother was born in a Mother and Baby Home, is one of the artists featured in the exhibition. Her sculpture The Roots ties in to the theme by portraying a second-generation survivor of traumas endured by ancestors.
The other pieces in the exhibition demonstrate sharp juxtaposition to the grim Magdalene laundry installation.
Paintings by Phoebe Cope depict scenes of the warm moments of motherhood and childhood, of the normalcy of everyday life, of the beauty of nature. Ruth Barry’s sculpture The Golden Loop brings some hope, symbolising the regeneration of nature, and how humans, who are often destroyers, can also be creators.
The exhibition also features recent works from artists Phoebe Cope, Reuben Cope, Mungo McCosh, Sean Grimes, Ruth Barry, and Tianna Pedro.
The exhibition, which is presented in association with Gerber Fine Art, Glasgow.
Elizabeth Cope was born in 1952 in Co. Kildare. She has exhibited in galleries and museums all over the world for the past 40 years and is found in many important public and private collections.
Cope is known for her brilliant use of colour. Much of her work is domestic in nature, and she has found a loyal audience who are beguiled by her positive, bright and cheerful paintings. But there is a darker side to her work, some disturbing, laced with black humour, but always executed confidently.
“Painting for me is a way of life. I was seduced by the smell of oil paint when I was nine years old; my sister came home from Paris with a box of paints…. I paint through the chaos of everyday life; if I were to wait for a quiet moment, I would never paint,” she says.

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