by Emma Meehan
My great grandmother’s husband died so she ran several home-based businesses including the making and selling of lace to America. My grandmother had a shop at the front of the house, and later worked in the dance hall that my grandfather ran. By my mother’s account, she was very outgoing, sociable and also loved cooking and hosting other people.
The marriage bar in Ireland, which meant that women in civil service had to resign from their job on marrying, was lifted in 1977. In 1979, a bill was passed so that contraception, which had previously been banned, could be obtained on prescription, albeit under regulated conditions. These initiatives reflected the changing attitude of the state towards the role of women in Irish society, and the increasing separation of Church and State in the conceptualisation of Irish identities.
By the time my mother married, it was not unusual for women to work outside the home, but they were also expected to be the primary homemakers and caregivers at the same time. Unlike my great grandmother, grandmother and mother, I am not married nor do I have children.
What connections are there in my female familial and creative lineage across time?
What will I have left to pass on and to whom?
I wonder if it is through a creative lineage that I am connected to the women in my family? Hosting, sharing food, and creating social occasions for exchange have become interests in my work, and these were givens to my female predecessors.
In my creative lineage, Irish choreographer Joan Davis teaches and performs in her home place, sharing food, performance, artwork, and cultivated gardens to create community events. Since moving to the UK three years ago, movement artist Sandra Reeve has informed my practice – she also teaches, performs and hosts creative events in her home place, where the sharing of food, conversation and creativity become central to her open garden days.
I am now calling this familial and creative lineage ‘home practice’.
I have taken to weaving home life with creative practice, moving and writing in my bedroom, sitting room, and kitchen. The sociality of exchanging food and conversation has formed part of my hosting of events, exhibits, performance showings, and open dialogues as alternative formats for sharing practice and research.
In this hamper, you will find my great grandmother’s lace, a poem by my mother, home-mde Irish tea brack, and some writing from my movement practice.
Feel free to look, touch, taste, smell, read aloud…