When Silence Falls:
Exploring bodily and literary memory in the Waterford Laundry
Saturday, October 22, 2016
This event was funded by the Irish Research Council
When Silence Falls: Exploring bodily and literary memory in the Waterford Laundry was a one-day, multidisciplinary event recognising the history and memory of the Laundries and Industrial Schools in the South-East of Ireland. The event proposed an exploration of the memory of the Magdalene institutions through a site-specific, practice-based approach.
The venue of the College Street campus of WIT for this event is of central import. The campus is significant in modern Irish history; it is the former site of a convent of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd of Angers; the St. Mary’s Good Shepherd Laundry; and St. Dominick's Industrial School for Girls.
The event incorporated a live art durational performance and audio/visual installations in the Chapel and surrounding rooms of the Waterford Institute of Technology’s College Street campus, contextualised by academic talks about the Laundries. The venue of the College Street campus of WIT is of significant import in modern Irish history; it is the former site of a convent of the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd of Angers; the St. Mary’s Good Shepherd Laundry; and St. Dominick's Industrial School. These latter two institutions were part of what Smith calls an “architecture of containment” which enabled the Irish State to “confine aberrant citizens, rendering invisible women and children who fell foul of society’s moral proscriptions” (Smith, 2009, p.46). Oral histories and archival research conducted as part of the on-going Waterford Memories Project informed the live art and audio/visual installations and were aired as part of the event.
Throughout the day, the audience was invited to listen to the recorded histories of the women who have contributed their stories, attend short talks on the history of containment, view the documentary film In Loving Memories (Audrey Rosseau, Canada), experience live performance (curated by Áine Phillips) and visual art installation (multiple artists).
The events were categorised according to three themes:
1. Professional talks
2. Audio/visual presentations
3. Site-specific, live art durational performance
Featured event artists
Nancy Rochford-Flynn – Interdisciplinary Artist/Community Arts Activist
Nancy Rochford-Flynn is an Interdisciplinary Artist, Community Art Activist and an educator/facilitator who is based in Co. Wexford. Her practice uses ABCD (Arts Based Community Development) to affect positive change in the lives of those who feel marginalised or socially excluded within society and aims to create contemporary work within a social context. Her practice examines gender and identity and the physical and psychological effects of exclusion and oppression. Her research into the oppression suffered by women in Ireland’s Magdalene laundries has developed into her personal practice focusing on the status of women within contemporary society and the realisation of the importance of activism to eliminate inequality. It is informed by women's social history and the study of narratology. Nancy is a supporter of JFM Advocacy group, and has paid homage to women who suffered incarceration in Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries through her work.
Marie Lee - Former Visual Art student at WIT
This art piece is called Mandala. The work was made to honour the women and children who were confined within the Magdalene and Industrial School institutions in College Street, Waterford. So as to encompass other areas of the buildings a stop motion animation of the making of the mandala was projected onto the former Industrial School.