‘Unearthing, Tuam blossoms’.
Back In 2014, when the news broke of Catherine’s findings, regarding the Tuam babies I was shocked and filled with profound sadness, compassion, and anger. I felt compelled to do something, but the only way I could express it was through my art.
I thought back to my own experience of loss and grief and how the simple act of laying flowers helped, it was a final token of love and respect. It made me think of all that was robbed from these babies and children when they were so cruelly discarded in this septic tank. These 796-hand crafted, white porcelain roses are in honor and dedication to the memory of all the Tuam babies and their mothers.
In the center of each rose, I have sculpted each little babies face individually, and uniquely, so that no baby is the same. Each face represents one of the babies and children that died while in the Tuam mother and baby home. Babies such as “Baby Walsh”- 10 minutes old, Patrick- 13 months old, Maud- 6 and a half years old to the oldest little girl Kathleen- 9 and a half years old.
These two little girls stand out because my own two granddaughters are of the same age, I look at them and can not comprehend what children like Kathleen and Maud endured during their short lives in the so-called care of the Irish state and religious orders. The rose itself represents the mothers who were in the mother and baby homes.
Each petal is handmade and formed to lovingly cradle and protect her baby in the centre, connecting the two forever. The white porcelain captures the essence of the child’s innocence and purity and both the fragility and strength of their mothers. This instillation is called ‘Unearthing, Tuam blossoms’.
This series of roses has taken me two years to complete. At the start of my journey with this project, I just wanted to honour the babies, to show them the love and kindness they were not afforded in life or death, it was my own personal response towards the emotions I felt, and from those feelings, I started sculpting and making my own form of personal justice.
Now, thanks to the tireless fighting from Catherine, the survivors and their families these babies of Tuam will finally receive a dignified and fitting place to rest. Now my thoughts are not only with the babies and mothers of Tuam but also with the survivors of all these horrific institutions, as they wait for justice, and I wait beside them.
I hope with continued support from like-minded people who seek fairness and justice, we can continue to put pressure on the church and state to do the right thing for survivors and families.