Pre-release download here
‘For the Love of Mary’ is a project that began as a humorous observation around the number of Marian grottos found in strange places across Ireland and a fascination with their relationship to the character of the Virgin Mary enshrined within. The project questions her relationship to the women of Ireland both north and south of the border ‐ how does she frame the position of women in our culture? Having actively documented the stories of women told in their domestic settings, often around the kitchen table, ‘For the Love of Mary’ captures these women’s hidden histories that would otherwise be lost to time. From the project a series of podcasts were created, framing a multimedia exhibition based in poetry, written from those conversations. Inspired and coloured by the lived experiences and memories of the women who participated. The initial project was supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland Support for the Individual Artist Programme award. This allowed for the research and interview/story-gathering portion of the project that then led to a solo exhibition of poetry as art in Eden Place Arts Centre. The exhibition was made up of print medium as well as the podcasts, a video installation and a petitions kiosk.
From this a draft script was written to explore the discourse further. Viewed through the lens of a displaced woman from a Protestant/Unionist background who has spent more of her life living in Nationalist areas, ‘For The Love of Mary’ maps a personal fascination with the Virgin Mary and her lost humanity, rediscovered in the stories shared by women living in Ireland. These cover the institutionalisation of women and the atrocities committed against them, acts of devotional faith and love felt, the humanisation/dehumanisation of a figure so well-known but yet so disconnected from our experiences as women. Reflecting on the Repeal and Decriminalise movements and the impact these had on the position of women.
Further supported by Derry City and Strabane District Council Artists and Cultural Practitioner Award, Irish Writers’ Centre and Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the script is under development and this app has been made possible.
Modelled on the original ‘Petitions Kiosk’ from the exhibition, For The Love of Mary Pocket Shrine will allow you to send your petition anonymously to Mary. The petitions will be collected and stored in a database and then formed into visuals that will create a backdrop for portions of the show.
The Marys that are contained in this app have all be gifted to me throughout this project and now live happily together on my mantle piece. Each one has a story and you can read about them when you send a petition.
Further updates to the app will include the following features
You will be able to use the camera to take a picture of your favourite shrine and upload it to the collection. Periodically the app will be updated and new Marys can be downloaded.
We’re also working on an interactive Rosary for you. Here you can be guided through the mysteries and unlock some surprises.
This project was initially funded by Arts Council of Northern Ireland in their Support for the Individual Artist Programme. That funding allowed me to travel and document shrines, meet with women, record the conversations, create the podcasts and make the work for the first exhibition.
Further to that was a bursary awarded by the Irish Writers’ Centre, funded by Arts Council of Northern Ireland to work with a mentor to develop the direction of the script to become a stage show.
Following that has been support from Derry City and Strabane District Council to develop this app, work with a musician to create the soundtrack for the show so that the first performance of the show can happen in the lead up to International Women’s Day, 8thMarch 2022.
Without their support, this project would not have happened. However, the continued maintenance of the app and the upkeep of the podcast to ensure the stories of the women who took part, remain accessible, falls on me. If you would like to support the project so that we can improve the app, develop it further, add more shrines, keep the podcasts available, maybe even document some more shrines, you can donate using the links below. You can choose via Paypal or buy-me-a-coffee. Or you could get in touch via the website if you want to explore other ways you can support the project.