IN THE FRAME
Anne Devlin (Felispeaks), Art of Strength
For this Anne Devlin shot, I wanted someone with the idea of two identities, someone who, whether they liked it or not, lived with two ideas of themselves. When Felispeaks was suggested to me I knew she was perfect to represent Anne. Felispeaks is a poet, first and foremost, but she has become a beautifully strong voice of a new generation for Ireland. It comes with responsibilities and she takes all that weight on board with passion and pride as a black and Irish poet.
I always had an idea of the Anne Devlin shot being shot with two Wolfhounds. I wanted them as when Anne Devlin passed away a wolf hound was put on her tombstone, as a sign of loyalty to Robert Emmet. So when booking this in, my first question was – Is Felispeaks comfortable with dogs? So once that was all good, we got Catherine Condell – stylist for the project – to pick a dress from Helen Steele’s collection. The colour and style worked so well with the energy of the shot, and the energy Felispeaks gave in the shoot made for one of the strongest shots of the collection. We recorded a video for each shot and it can be seen at artofstrength.ie. Felispeaks’ video is captivating!
The idea for Art of Strength came about as a female pal of mine had to make a big life decision. At the time, I admired her for her strength, her courage and it got me thinking of all the decisions us women have to make in life, and quite often it’s our strength that keeps us moving forward. I started to research a little bit more and learned so much about so many strong women from our past and from that I picked the ones that really resonated with me.
I’ve always loved Irish fashion and Irish design. My mother used to hand knit Aran jumpers for Shannon Airport so the idea of craft was always something I wanted to insert into a project and to me, my mother is a world of strength, so the project came to be. I read a beautiful and powerful poem by Eavan Boland called Art of Empire and from that came the name Art of Strength for the project.
Art of Strength features re-imagined portraits of Queen Maeve (Maria Doyle Kennedy), Hannah Sheehy Skeffington (Vicky Phelan), Peig Sayers (Olwen Fouéré), Eileen Grey (Simone Kirby), Mainie Jellet (Domino Whisker), Maud Gonne (Cathy Belton), Grace O’Malley (Imelda May), Constance Markievicz (Charlene McKenna), Sister Brigid (Aine O’Gorman) and Lady Gregory (Kate O’Toole).
Art of Strength is at the Dean Art Studio, 4 Chatham Row, until Sunday April 23.