CIARA O’CONNOR: BRAZEN
FOH Garter Lane Arts Centre, 6th August – 26th October 2022
Ciara O’Connor is a Kerry based visual artist who works with textiles and embroidery.
Her work is figurative and deals with themes of identity, nostalgia, relationships, and feminism.
She uses a combination of hand stitching, free motion embroidery and raw-edged appliqué to create her thread drawings. The slow, meditative nature of hand stitching allows time to become intimately connected with what she is making. The speed and fluidity of machine stitching allows for a more intuitive, expressive outcome and instant gratification. They are equally important to her.
She uses vintage fabrics or material that she has a personal connection to. She works from both sides of the fabric. This enables her to manipulate the thread to control mark making.
When she stitches, she is aware of how her actions mirror those of her mother, her grandmother and others that have gone before her. She relishes that connection. She works in a medium associated with femininity and domestic labour, but to her it represents her desire to break free from those same preconceptions and constraints.
As a young girl, the word brazen had negative connotations for O’Connor. It conjured up images of the brazen hussy, the jezebel, a woman without shame. Bold and brash with loose morals. She did and said as she pleased. A woman who loved herself.
Upon mature reflection, O’Connor knows examines this to be a doctrine of control.
‘Brazen’ is a collection of stories about the theft of consent and the subsequent practice of emotional repair. It is about resilience, defying patriarchal ideology, self-forgiveness and learning to silence shame.
The fabrics used in the making of this work are part of O’Connor’s personal heritage. Every fabric and stitch choice are carefully considered. Some stitches fortify, some protect and some house secrets.
This is a woman’s work.
FAIRE magazine online journal:
Garter Lane Arts Centre, O’Connell Street, Waterford