Category Archives: Artivism

Out of the Shadows

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TRAVELLING ART EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS URGENT NEED FOR REFORM OF IRELAND’S ABORTION LAWS

At least 10 women and girls each day travel to the UK to access abortion services.

Today, an innovative art project which highlights the harrowing journey experienced by women and girls forced to travel outside Ireland to access abortion services will visit Letterkenny. The project, which is led by artist and activist Will St Leger and supported by the Abortion Rights Campaign and Amnesty International Ireland, will visit six counties over its six day tour. The exhibition will also visit Mayo, Sligo, Leitrim, Meath and Dublin.

Every year, at least 4,000 women are forced to travel outside of Ireland to access abortion services. This refers to the number of women who give Irish addresses. The real figure, which doesn’t account for women travelling to other countries or purchasing abortion pills online, could be much higher. In Donegal alone, 67 women and girls have travelled to the UK for an abortion in 2015.

“Ireland’s abortion laws do not stop women and girls from having or needing abortions, it simply forces them to travel abroad. The law, which is one of the most restrictive in the world, disproportionally affects certain women and girls, including minors, survivors of sexual violence, asylum seekers, women with health problems or those who are otherwise unable to travel. Travelling abroad for abortion is expensive (costing at least €1,000) which further limits abortion to those who can afford to travel.” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland. 

“Women in rural areas face additional obstacles when travelling for an abortion, such as infrequent public transport and longer journeys. ARC regional groups have engaged with these communities to break down the culture of stigma, shame, and fear that has pervaded the issue of abortion for too long. This project will build on the progress made by Abortion Rights Campaign regional groups and other local and community groups. It will continue expanding the dialogue on the urgent need for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment, “said Taryn Gleason, Abortion Rights Campaign Donegal spokesperson. 

Life-size silhouettes representing women will be placed in various locations across the country to visually symbolise the fact that, on average 10 women and girls are forced to leave Ireland every day to access abortion services aboard.

“Many women who travel to the UK for an abortion describe the journey as traumatic and upsetting. The Irish state and health service effectively turns its back on them, forcing them to bear the psychological, physical and financial burden alone. Women forced to travel feel sense of exclusion from their health care system, the stigma of traveling, and the burden of secrecy, shame and fear that comes with knowing they are doing something that is a criminal offence at home. This project is designed to bring these women out of the shadows so that we can stand in solidarity with them,” said artist and activist Will St Leger.

Ireland’s abortion laws creates a two-tiered system where some women can circumvent the law by travelling abroad for abortions, while others are forced to continue with a pregnancy or resort to illegal and often unsafe means of accessing abortion, including the use of abortifacient medication bought online. Though this medication is safe, it should be taken with medical supervision which Irish law prohibits.

The exhibition culminates in Dublin this weekend, which coincides with the next meeting of the Citizens’ Assembly.

“Ireland’s abortion laws causes serious human rights violations to women in Ireland every day. The Irish Government is under an immediate obligation to bring Irish law into compliance with international human rights law, which requires the repeal of the Eighth Amendment. It cannot abdicate that responsibility to the Citizens’ Assembly,” said Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland. 

An independent Red C poll commissioned by Amnesty International in February 2016 found that 87% favour expanded access to abortion. 80% would vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, either outright or if reasonable restrictions were put in place. Of the 5% of people personally opposed to abortion in all circumstances, half would still vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment

Snapped Up

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Over the past few years I’ve celebrated April’s Fools Day by doing a street art prank.  This year I want to do something different, so on the 1st of April 2016, I will be hiding 12 works of my art around Dublin city. Every hour I will reveal the location of each piece via a Snapchat story.

Your task is to find them before my other followers do, simply follow me on Snapchat before the 1st of April and check my Snapchat stories each hour from 8am till 8pm on Fools Day.

If you’re quick enough to find a piece of work, take a snapchat story of your prize (tag me in it @willsaint.)

Good luck!

*UPDATE*

From 8am today I placed my artwork work around various parts of Dublin. It was great fun and wonderful to get tweets from some of the happy hunters that found them. Thank you everyone that got involved!

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Syria – Now You Know

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This morning I installed a fake unexploded missle on South King Street, Dublin for GOAL global charity.

The unexploded missile has been constructed, using various salvaged materials. It was be placed in a ‘hole’ on the pavement, created using sand and pre-smashed paving stones. Special effects will be created by coal dust for blast scorch and smoke, along with a number of other elements. The charity wanted to highlight the ongoing suffering of innocent civilians in Syria, as the latest round of peace talks on the Syria crisis begin in Geneva tomorrow.

I was commissioned by GOAL to build the structure to mark the fact that rockets and missiles continue to land in civilian areas in Syria every day, killing innocent men, women and children in the process

GOAL CEO Barry Andrews attended the event with GOAL Syrian staff member, Alia Alsoud. Alia left Syria at the start of the war but still has family living in the country. She also lost family members in the violence, while other have been trapped in sieges.

Collins Rising

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‘Collins Rising’  My new, limited edition screen print will be launched Thursday 10th March at Damn Fine Print – 31 signed and numbered prints only.

I’ve teamed up with Damn Fine Print  to produce an exclusive limited edition Screenprint of #CollinsRising // launch part Thursday 10th March at their studio in 32 North Brunswick Street Stoneybatter Dublin. To buy this limited edition print click here

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Origins to ‘Duty Free State’ (Collins Rising)

For God’s sake, give me one free night to be a human being!” –  exclaimed Michael Collins to his fellow rebels in the self titled,1996 film by Neil Jordan.  These words became the starting point for my original Collins stencil entitled, ‘Duty Free State’ ten years ago.

From his early twenties, Michael Collins was involved in the struggle for Irish independence. From fighting in the Easter Rising to the negotiations table at 10 Downing street 6 years later,  Collins dedicated his life to the dream of an Irish Republic.

While much has been written about his achievements, I often wondered about what this young Corkonian had to sacrifice to achieve these goals.  Ask any committed activist and they will tell you that their cause often comes a personal price. Committed volunteers like Collins never got leisure time,  bonuses, holidays or luxury goods. They dedicated their waking hours to defeating their oppressors so others could be set free.

Our little republic is not perfect, but we are not under the dominion of unelected monarchs, we have a constitution and we are free to utilize the tools of democracy,  freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly.  Liberty should never be considered a luxury, it is a fundamental human right.

If Michael had more time after the Civil war,  he might have travelled the world, he might have got married to his sweetheart, raised a family.  We might have spotted him striding down the street, shopping bags in hand after buying something nice for himself or his girlfriend.  My screen print,  ‘Duty Free State’ is an aspirational piece of work about a man who missed so much because he cared too much.

Because of men and women like Collins, I enjoy the freedom to satirize icons like Michael without fear of restriction or the threat of imprisonment and for that I’m grateful.

Michael Collins you deserve one free night off.