The We Claim Banner, Abbey Theatre, Eden Quay site. We Claim | Young Migrant Women and Kathryn Maguire. An Artist in the Community Scheme Project Realisation Award 2016. Image: Ros Kavanagh.
The We Claim Banner, Abbey Theatre, Eden Quay site. We Claim | Young Migrant Women and Kathryn Maguire. An Artist in the Community Scheme Project Realisation Award 2016. Image: Ros Kavanagh.

We Claim 

We Claim is an artistic collaboration between a Young Migrant Women’s Group based in Dublin and artist Kathryn Maguire. Kathryn Maguire’s practice uses text, sculpture, video, and installation work. She has used text and materials of signage as a means to highlight historical writings in public spaces, making diverse cultural references that link the historical with contemporary. 

The Young Migrants Women’s Group are comprised of Valerie Molay (Public Speaker and Activist), Catherine Kayya Murphy (Model, activist ), Annie Waithira Murugi, (Model, activist) Cyndi Njoki,(Poet and writer) and Grace Wilentz, (poet and writer and editor), Jennifer Hon (artist) and Kheira Belfedhal (Writer).

The art project We Claim aims to count and consider migrant womens’ voices, in the marking of the centenary and takes inspiration from the Proclamation as a piece of text, and interpreting it today.* Also, we have researched how women of the past worked together to form creative groups, leading us to a concept of an artwork banner on a public building and chapbook inspired by the past with contemporary issues to celebrate the strengths of the young migrant women. 

The second phase of the project is the fruition of our research, after taking inspiration from our findings of what women from 100 years ago did as collaborative groups.* Our research led us to Helena Molony and *Alice Milligan: both women created theatrical plays and writings and Feminist papers both here in Ireland and Northern Ireland, publications which were exclusively for women, and known as the first Women’s newspapers. 

The artistic banner was inspired by Alice Milligan who was born (1866-1953). She was an activist, poet, actor and writer. As a Nationalist and activist she created Tableau Vivants and sited them throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland. The images were often projected onto buildings by using a magic lantern in Northern Ireland. She used wigs and found household goods as objects that could be used for dressing up in Warrior like poses. 'Simplicity of make will be found to be quite compatible with artistic beauty, and stage magnificence can be attained without extravagance.' The image was inspired by Queen Maeve and her daughter as mythical warriors and was taken on the Abbey Theatre stage with photographer Ros Kavanagh, symbolic of all Irish women today. The poem was written by Grace Wilentz part of We Claim and was inspired by W.B. Yeats and Maud Gonne. The models Catherine Kayya Murphy and Annie Waithira Murugi, are also part of the We Claim group. The artistic banner is on display on 15-17 Eden Quay in the City of Dublin similar to the magic lantern projections made by Milligan.

The second part of the We Claim project was to create a chapbook publication of We Claim writings and is inspired by the Bean na hEireann publications, 1908 to 1911 and their layout and content, The Shan van Vocht, 1896 to 1899 and the Cuala Press print works of both Elizabeth and Lily Yeats [sisters to W.B and Jack Yeats]. We have been lucky to source the original typeface from Cuala Press for the book. The writings and etchings are from members of We Claim and they are an insight into the views and opinions of contemporary new Irish women today, and it can be used as a handbook for the contemporary maiden. It will be published in early 2017 and contains poems, prose, recipes and hair tips and images relative to contemporary Ireland. 

Sources of Inspiration, Research and many Enlightening Conversations. 

  • Images, text and ideas about Alice Milligan's theatre practice and tableaux taken from Catherine Morris's book: "Alice Milligan and the Irish Cultural Revival' (Dublin: Four Courts Press). 
  • Copies of The Shan Van Vocht in Linen Hall Museum. Belfast.
  • Copies of Bean na hEireann in Irish National Library. Dublin. 
  • Handbook of the Irish Revival: An Anthology of Irish Cultural and Political Writings 1891 – 1922 (Abbey Theatre Press). 
  • The Proclamation. 
  • The collaboration began as a conversation between the group, Deirdre Walshe and Kathryn Maguire as part of a Research and Development supported by the Arts Council’s Artist in the Community Scheme managed by Create.
  • The Project Realisation was supported by the Arts Council’s Artist in the Community Scheme managed by Create.

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