Featuring Pauline Cummins and Jo Murphy Lawless.
As a result of the pandemic, the relationship that intersects age, gender and public space has never been so fraught. The need to see, hear and prioritise older people has been rendered explicitly visible. These women have been blazing trails for 50 years. They were moving mountains long before hashtags. They are the ‘difficult’ women, the brass necks, the sharp, the fearless: the mad, the bad and the dangerous.
Created by Emma O' Grady and produced by Up Up Up, with Copper Alley, in association with Dublin Fringe Festival and Age & Opportunity’s Bealtaine Festival, with support from Galway County Council and the Irish Women Lawyers Association along with the Community Knowledge Initiative, Institute for Lifecourse and Society and The Feminist Storytelling Network (NUI Galway) and 168 donors on GoFundMe
MBD was originally recorded in Aug/Sept 2020 and screened for free online as part of Dublin Fringe Festival and Age & Opportunity's Bealtaine Festival AT HOME.
Pauline Cummins was born in 1949. She is a performance and video artist, a sculptor and a painter. Her work examines issues of identity, gender, power, embodiment, womanhood, maternity and socio-cultural relations connected to communities. She has exhibited and performed nationally and internationally over the last 30 years at venues including the RHA, Tate Liverpool and the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris. In her work and in her activism Pauline strives to situate the work of women artists into a lineage of practice that has been under-researched, under-archived and under-documented.
She co-founded The Women Artists Action Group’ in 1987 and later took a position on the executive committee of International Association of Women Artists.
In 1984 she painted a mural at the National Maternity Hospital called The Beginning of Labour and it painted over by the hospital within a couple of weeks without consulting Pauline.
She has taken part in dozens of residencies, and received many commissions and awards for her work including The George Campbell Painting Award and The Sir Mark Turner Memorial Scholarship. She has been artist in residence on several projects with women in Mountjoy Prison. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Irish Museum of Modern Art. She performs with The Performance Collective and since 2008 has collaborated with Frances Mezzetti on Walking in the Way – a series of performances exploring control of public space and masculinity. She lectures at NCAD and continues to create and to be prolific in her work.
Jo Murphy Lawless
Jo Murphy-Lawless was born in 1946. She is a sociologist, an educator and an activist. While she was a student in UCD she became involved in the protests surrounding the so-called ‘Gentle Revolution’ in 1969. She went on to receive a PhD from Trinity College Dublin and for many years she was a lecturer there at the School of Nursing and Midwifery.
Jo Murphy-Lawless has been critical of how Irish maternity services have been governed and in 2014 she co-founded the Elephant Collective with the aim of raising public awareness of the tragedy of maternal death. Many people were unaware that if a mother died in childbirth in Ireland an inquest was not mandatory.
Their activism spawned a touring exhibition called “Picking Up The Threads” which commemorates the lives of the eight women who died in maternity services, a documentary made by Anne-Marie Green and, eventually, a private members bill brought to the Dáil by Clare Daly.
In 2019 landmark legislation was passed by the Oireachtas to make inquests mandatory in all cases of maternal deaths in the State. She has written extensively on childbirth and the politics of maternity and obstetric care in Ireland and she has contributed to over 100 publications. She has undertaken considerable work in the area of poverty, class and drug abuse - in particular the social and economic damage inflicted on women.
Today she is a research fellow at the Centre for Health Evaluation, Methodology Research and Evidence Synthesis at NUI Galway.