Art brought up to date in honour of Mother and Baby Home survivors

Myriam Riand and Áine O’Brien told The Liberty about their work for Herstory Ireland.

To honour St Bridget’s day and the victims of the Mother and Baby Homes, Herstory Ireland in collaboration with Women Creatives curated a light show of photographs and paintings.

These were displayed on churches along with mother and baby homes throughout the month of February.

Photographer Myriam Riand and conceptual artist Áine O’Brien had been working on their own photo recreation of The Breastfeeding Madonna when they were approached to be a part of the Herstory light show. 

Photo Credit: Steve O’Connor


O’Brien explained in an interview with The Liberty that the inspiration for the photo came from the sealing of the records in regards to the mother and baby homes’ scandal in Ireland.

“I am a single mother of two kids and I’ve always had this theory that I would’ve been locked away [in one of the homes] if I had been born 30 years before. I got really angry and felt really helpless. I was thinking to myself ‘what could I do?’ and then I remembered that I could make art,” she said. 

The reason she chose to do The Breastfeeding Madonna was to show the juxtaposition between the way Mary is worshipped in the Catholic Church and the treatment of Irish women in these homes.  

O’Brien contacted Riand and the two created the photos along with their friend Hilde Dijk and her daughter who modelled for the shoot.  

Riand emphasised that while the project reacted to recent events, “it was by no means an anger piece, and was made to empower the women of Ireland. It was to allow them to heal and to funnel some of their frustrations into something positive. We wanted to take all our power back.”  

“We wanted to take all our power back.”

Myriam Riand

They also photographed journalist and TV presenter Nadine Reid as The Black Madonna. This photo series represented the ordinary woman and was created to empower women of all races and sizes.

Photo Credit: Myriam Riand

Riand and O’Brien both stated that they were extremely happy with the reception of their pieces and the Light Show.

“We just want Irish women to stop feeling so ashamed of their bodies, to step into their power and remember their ancient wisdom,” O’Brien said.  

All of the photos from the Herstory Light Show can be viewed here.

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