Using creative processes to explore the centenary vote for women
‘ . . . the lives we live’ Grangegorman Public Art
Grangegorman Development Agency
Dublin City Council
Creative Ireland Dublin City Programme 2018
Smashing Times Theatre and Film Company
St Paul’s CBS Secondary School
Mount Temple Comprehensive School
Mount Carmel Secondary School
HACE, Henrietta Adult and Community Education
Smashing Times: A Creative Celebration of the Centenary Vote for Women uses creative processes of theatre, film and online digital resources to explore the centenary vote for women in 2018, and reflects on the experiences of women today in relation to gender equality, human rights and diversity. The lead artist is Mary Moynihan, theatre and film artist, and Artistic Director of Smashing Times.
Using creative processes and a feminist framework, the project brings artists, activist and local communities together to celebrate the centenary vote for women. The project begins with a process of research and identifies five positive stories of change experienced by pioneering women who fought for the vote in 1918, and five positive stories of change experienced by women today including women living in the Grangegorman area. The 10 stories are used to create a theatre workshop model and online exhibition and to inform the creation of a short film, all of which are then offered to the public to bring citizens, artists and activists together to explore the kind of Ireland we want for the future in relation to gender equality, exploring key questions such as ‘What does the vote mean to you?’ and ‘What can we do today to promote women’s rights and equality for all’?
The project is a creative celebration of key figures, places and events in relation to the centenary celebration of votes for women in Ireland culminating in a short film and online exhibition hosted on the new Smashing Times Online Centre for the Arts and Human Rights, which is funded by the Department of Arts. The online exhibition highlights key people including Countess Markievicz, Maud Gonne, Eva Gore-Booth, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, Francis Sheehy Skeffington, Dr. Kathleen Lynn, Louie Bennett and Delia Larkin. In addition to research, articles, biographies and photographs, the online exhibition features input from 100 citizens today in the form of statements, stories and filmed vox pops gathered by the key artists and created in response to the theme of votes for women.
Megan O’Malley, who will be performing in Constance and Her Friends by Mary Moynihan, presented by Smashing Times
Three theatre workshops are conducted by artist Róisín McAtamney with local schools and communities. The outputs of the workshops, along with research and 100 statements from members of the public, are used to inform the creation of a ten-minute high-quality short film suitable for television screening. The short film is written and directed by Mary Moynihan and edited by Mark Quinn, High Wire Ltd. The film is screened at Grangegorman followed by a post-show discussion celebrating key events from history and exploring what the vote means today.
This project is supported by the Creative Ireland programme, an all-of-Government five-year initiative from 2017 to 2022, which places creativity at the centre of public policy. Further information from creativeireland.ie and ireland.ie. A special thanks to ‘. . . the lives we live’ Grangegorman Public Art programme, the Grangegorman Development Agency, Dublin City Council, Creative Ireland Dublin City programme and Dublin City Public Library and Archive.
Women’s Stories: Then and Now – A Creative Celebration of Women’s Stories from 1916 to 1923
As part of the project, an online exhibition, titled ‘Women’s Voices: Then and Now – A Creative Celebration of Women’s Stories from 1916 to 1923’, was launched at a celebratory evening marking International Women’s Day 2019, featuring a performance of Constance and Her Friends by Mary Moynihan, performed by Megan O’Malley, a film screening of a new short film, music, and a panel discussion.
This online exhibition features research, articles, biographies and photographs along with 100 statements from members of the public in the Grangegorman area where the company are based, gathered by artists in response to the theme of the centenary celebration of votes for women and exploring what the vote means today. The exhibition features stories of change experienced by women from the past and today, and a new theatre workshop model.
Women’s stories include Constance Markievicz, Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Dr Kathleen Lynn, who were active in Ireland’s struggle for freedom and in the suffrage campaign for votes for women. Also included is the remarkable life and career of Dr Eleanora Fleury, a psychiatrist who once worked at the Richmond Asylum, originally located in Grangegorman.
This exhibition can now be accessed through the Smashing Times International (online) Centre for the Arts and Human Rights. Click here to access.
For further information contact:
Smashing Times International Centre for the Arts and Human Rights incorporating Smashing Times Theatre and Film Company and Smashing Times Youth Arts Ensemble
Coleraine House, Coleraine Street, Dublin 7, Ireland.
Tel: + 353 (0) 1 865 6613 Tel: + 353 (0) 87 221 4245
Women’s Rights in Ireland
In the latter half of the 1800s in Ireland, there was organised feminist action on various issues related to women especially in the areas of education and the parliamentary vote. Slowly women gained the right to attend university and have access to degrees and courses and if they were rate payers, the right to vote in county and borough councils and urban and rural district councils.
Nationalist and women’s organisations were formed including Inghínidhe na hÉireann founded by Maud Gonne in 1900, the Irishwomen’s Franchise League founded by Hanna Sheehy Skeffington and Margaret Cousins in 1908, the Irish Women’s Suffrage Federation founded by Louie Bennett and Helen Chenevix in 1911, the Irish Women’s Reform League by Louie Bennett and the Irish Women Worker’s Union with Delia Larkin as its first secretary. When the Irish Citizen Army was founded in 1913 it offered equal membership and training to men and women. 1914 saw the formation of Cumann na mBan with its main aim to help fund and arm the men of the Irish Volunteers. A lot of suffrage and activism was undertaken by women seeking the right to vote, especially in the two decades of the twentieth century.
Finally, in 1918 women aged 30 were granted the right to vote through representation of the People Act. 1918 also saw the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act which made women eligible to be elected to sit and vote in the House of Commons. Eleven women stood in the 1918 elections with Countess Markievicz being the only woman elected to parliament. Smashing Times are using creative processes to makes visible the history of women’s rights in the past and to generate a citizen debate on themes of gender equality and human rights and what the vote means today.
The name Smashing Times comes from a direct intervention at the turn of the century in the form of disrupting social institution as part of the suffragette movement. As part of their struggle to obtain the right to vote women suffragettes went around smashing the windows of public buildings to protest at their exclusion from the power structures within those buildings and this was referred to as the ‘smashing times period of the suffragette movement’.
References and Suggested Reading:
‘Irish Suffragettes at the time of the home rule crisis’, Vivien Kenny. Link: https://www.historyireland.com/20th-century-contemporary-history/irish-suffragettes-at-the-time-of-the-home-rule-crisis/
‘A History of Her Story’, Mary Cullen. Link: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/heritage/century/century-women-and-the-vote/a-history-of-her-story-1.553415
Unmanageable Revolutionaries: Women and Irish Nationalism, Margaret Ward. Link: https://www.amazon.com/Unmanageable-Revolutionaries-Women-Irish-Nationalism/dp/0745310842
Smashing Times: A History of Irish Women’s Suffrage Movement, 1889-1922, Rosemary Cullen Owens. Link: https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/smashing-times-history-irish-womens/author/rosemary-cullen-owens/
‘The Present Duty of Irish Women: The Contribution of Irish Women as documented in the Archival Record’, The Irish Archives Resource. Link: https://www.iar.ie/Docs/The%20Present%20Duty%20of%20Irishwomen.pdf
‘Women and History 1912-1922’, Queens’s University Belfast and University of Limerick. Link: https://www.ul.ie/wic/sites/default/files/Women%20and%20%20History%201912-22.pdf