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Sarah Cullen, You Shall Have Exactly What You Want

By 28/02/2018September 23rd, 2023News, PhotoIreland Festival

Launch 6pm Thu 3 May
Running 3-31 May
At The Copper House Gallery, St. Kevin’s Cottages, Dublin 8

We are launching the 2018 edition of PhotoIreland Festival with Laia Abril’s project On Abortion and Sarah Cullen’s You Shall Have Exactly What You Want, at The Copper House Gallery.

Sarah Cullen’s work creates a psychological landscape within the domestic space in order to explore the experiences of pregnant people in Ireland who are faced with crisis pregnancies. By interrupting the domestic space, she teases out how the experience of this environment and the everyday changes when one learns of a crisis pregnancy and cannot seek reproductive healthcare in the country in which they reside. It uses visual triggers to evoke contemplation on the right to bodily autonomy, and critiques the institutions that withhold this right from the populace. Objects such as pearls and human hair create visual interruptions; disrupting the traditional notions of the home, creating this psychological landscape. Having grown up experiencing first-hand the catastrophic and traumatic effects our country’s treatment of crisis pregnancies had, and still has, on family members, the resulting series of photographs and photobook are a deeply personal reflection on the issue of abortion access in Ireland and the women who have suffered under current laws.

Textile banners accompany photographs and play an integral role of this body of work; drawing on the history of women’s use of textiles and embroidery to enact and communicate resistance. Taking influence from the use of image and text on banners and handkerchiefs, the overt and coded modes of address used in this project connect with those used in public protests by women’s movements for over a century to today. These banners, one of which was created specifically for and used in the Abortion Rights Campaign 5th annual March for Choice 2017, are intended to elicit a sense of hope and achievement in those fighting for reproductive rights in Ireland; a celebration and recognition of the progress made so far, and the people who continually fuel this progress. Stitched and fabricated by hand, reprographic images have been montaged using a combination of paint, ink, mesh, scans and screens that mixes processes from the fine print studio and high street textile printing.

The exhibition has been kindly sponsored and printed by Inspirational Arts.

Sarah Cullen, a 2017 graduate of the BA Photography programme at Dublin Institute of Technology, is originally from County Wexford and currently based in Dublin. She works in a broad selection of mediums; photography, moving image and textiles and her practice focuses on issues of mortality and women’s rights in relation to the self and the domestic space. Personal narratives and reflections are interwoven with commentary on broader social issues in her work. She is also interested in exploring the relationship between the public and the private in terms of personal narratives and experiences. Her activism in the repeal the eighth movement has very much informed her recent work and led to working with the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment. Her graduate work, ‘You Shall Have Exactly What You Want’, was highly commended in the 2017 Inspirational Arts Photography Award. Past Group Exhibitions: Liminal Acts, Gallery of Photography (IRL), Bristle: Hair and Hegemony, Highlanes Gallery (IRL), A Day of Testimonies, Project Arts Centre (IRL), Art & Action, NCAD Gallery (IRL).