For all those women............

Taking a quick break from painting like crazy for my new exhibition Foetus Flowers showing at Anna Loka restaurant 114 Albany Road, Cardiff from October 13th for this year's MiR madeinroath festival. 

Like most of my work, Foetus Flowers give a voice back to unheard women, and this time I'm creating these paintings for the women who got pregnant out of wedlock and found themselves living in the horror of the Magdalene Laundries system.

If you think workhouses were something out of a Dickens novel aka 19th Century - think again!  These 'refuges', dating from the 18th century were effectively working prisons in which the Catholic church exploited 'fallen women' to run highly profitable  laundry businesses

Women who were unmarried were treated like 'sinners' for falling pregnant and were called 'penitents'. They provided free labour for the laundries and in return were sheltered in appalling cell-like and often unsanitary conditions and fed 'Oliver style' slop - the rationale being -  the poorer their living conditions the more money the church stood to make out of their misery. And in the days before washing machines and driers were invented, and sheets were washed by hand, exploiting these women was saving the church a huge amount of money.

Shunned by their families, society and treated like criminals by the church and the state these women had no-where else to go, even if they did manage to escape and often lived out the rest of their lives in these harsh conditions. The babies - which is the focus of my paintings were given up for adoption as soon as they were born, often never to be seen again. Those who were brought up by relatives rarely saw their mothers - perhaps every 2 or 3 years for an hour in supervised visits. 

The last Magdalene laundry shut in 1996! As in most cases of institutional abuse - the Catholic church and the Irish Government who colluded with them - have tried to brush this under the carpet - which is exactly why I've chosen to tell this story - so that the 30,000 women who suffered get some sort of recognition for bringing new life into this world.

Foetus Flowers are showing at  Anna Loka 114 Albany Road, Cardiff CF24 3RU from October 13th and there will be a 'meet the artist' with poetry and song Thursday 18th October from 3.30-6pm.

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