Longford artists celebrate the beauty of sisterhood through art and photography

Blood Sisters exhibition explores the layers and construction of identity

Jessica Thompson


Jessica Thompson



Longford artists celebrate the beauty of sisterhood through art and photography

Niamh Donlon, Rose and Niamh O'Brien, Shelley Corcoran, Maria Cribben, Kate, Grace and Jill Flaherty. Photo by Shelley Corcoran

From the time we're born, our sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators; our role models and our cautionary tales.

They are our scolds, protectors, goads, tormentors, playmates, counsellors, sources of envy and objects of pride.

In fact, sisterhood was the very inspiration for local artist, Maria Cribben, and fine art photographer Shelley Corcoran in their ongoing exhibition, 'Blood Sisters', which is currently on display in the Atrium Gallery at the Backstage Theatre.

The exhibition is a beautiful and colourful celebration of women and the relationships that form the building blocks of their lives.

Our sisters help us to learn how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct relationships and when to walk away from them.

Our sisters can be biological, or they can be women we're close to: an aunt, friend, cousin, niece or mother. They are the important women with whom we surround ourselves.

“Blood Sisters can refer to biological sisters or the urban slang for very close friends,” Shelley explained at the launch of the exhibition last Tuesday night, February 19.

“Myself and Maria wanted to explore the relationship between women; the complicated, strange, wonderful rituals that exist between women; the bond, the influence, the time spent together and the disagreements that make up the relationship.

“I don’t have any biological sisters myself. My aunt, Bridget was my inspiration for my work She was like a second mother, friend and sister to me,” she added, referring to her late aunt, Bridget Mollaghan, who sadly passed away in November.

“I know Maria has actual sisters, who she credits with seeing through the layers and constructs of her personas as they know her so well.

As a fine art photographer, Shelley has used her subjective influence in her work to expose the dialects between privacy, presentation and intimacy in photography. This perfectly compliments Maria's mult-layered paintings.

Maria's art showcases her own perception of sisters, including their layers, vibrancy, boldness and complexities through the medium of acrylic paint, which allows her to work quickly and expressively onto the surface of the canvass.

For Maria, each layer is important to the overall effect of the portrait and, by using acrylic paint, each layer remains visible.

“(Through this exhibition) we have explored the construction of identity through relationships of blood sisters and we would like to thank all the wonderful models that have taken part in our exhibition,” Shelley concluded, adding the artists' thanks to Longford Arts Office and the Backstage Theatre.

The Atrium Gallery was filled with people last Tuesday night as people from across the county turned out to support the artists.

“Sisterhood is a unique and powerful force,” said Cllr Joe Flaherty, who launched the exhibition at the Backstage Theatre.

“We don’t see enough women front and centre in public life. We don’t see enough women in the biggest jobs in Ireland. We don’t see enough women in politics. We don’t see enough women leading in education and we don’t see them enough leading in the big businesses.

“We’ve so many young people here today and, particularly to the young girls here: never be afraid to be inspired; never be afraid to look at the pictures on the wall and see what you can be. There’s nobody in this room that can’t be something special.”

'Blood Sisters' is on display at the Backstage Theatre until International Women's Day on March 8 and can be viewed during the Backstage Theatre opening hours (Monday to Friday 10am - 5pm) or evenings when there is a performance in the theatre.

For more information, see www.backstagetheatre.ie.

Also read: Laura Woods’ art exhibition set for official Longford Library opening