Women engineer domestic liberty


The Irish Museum of Modern Art and City Arts Centre are both currently hosting exhibitions of work by women not usually involved in visual art. IMMA's Once is Too Much dealt with violence against women and saw from women from the Family Resource Centre, St Michael's Estate, Inchicore, in Dublin, working with several professional artists who have strongly influenced the final appearance of the show.

By contrast, City Art Centre's show, The Liberation of the Domestic Engineers, which has been produced by women involved with Parents' Alone Resource Centre in Coolock, and St Benedict's Resource Centre in Kilbarrack, has clearly taken a different tack.

Whereas the project around Once is Too Much resulted in a show that might pretty much appear in any gallery, The Liberation of the Domestic Engineers seems to emphasise the personal satisfactions to be derived from producing such work.

While this decision should not detrimentally effect the value of the process, it has a strong influence on the final work.

The prevailing mode of The Liberation of the Domestic Engineers is representational. Most of the works are mixed media pieces combining painting, modelling and often some talismanic found objects or newspaper clippings.

Most of the pieces, such as Carmel Curran's flailing mosaic octopus, If Only I had More Hands, Maria McLoughlin's Emotional Baggage Cupboard, or Rose Boylan's Trapped At Home, are unequivocal about their makers' most pressing concerns.

Even if the show's title refers to liberation, many of the pieces offer very direct visions of enslavement. Catherine Townley, for example, shows a cannibalised washing machine, through the central portal of which a face can be seen pressed anxiously against the glass.

The show's one leap into fully fledged installation is a group work, Ecology Maze, a spiral net in which have been caught all the egg cartons cereal boxes and thousand empty packages that make up the branded debris of domestic life.