Work of Reclamation
St Heliers Gallery, Abbotsford Convent
10-29 June 2021
Opening event: Sun 20 June, 2-4pm
Work of Reclamation explores historical imagery of girls and women working in Magdalen Laundries around the world. For almost a century, a Magdalen Laundry operated at Abbotsford Convent, where girls were sent to work and live, without pay and often involuntarily, by their families or the courts.
In this exhibition, repetition, mirroring, layering and distortion echo the way in which enduring myths developed about girls and women placed in these institutions. The works also consider intense reactions to those believed to have breached the social standards of the time.
There was a widespread belief that these were ‘fallen women’, but the reality was more complex - some had been removed for their safety from abusive homes, others were destitute or had no family support.
The works speak to the distillation of human experience into easily perpetuated narrative tropes, and the challenge of pulling back the layers to reveal individuals behind the myth.