Tracing Thread Through Time

2024 MFA NCAD Graduate Show

My MFA work is a personal meditative exploration of maternal intergenerational relationships and the passing of memory and ritual between generations. It encompasses Painting, Drawing, Print, Video and Thread Sculptures.


Both my grandmother and mother worked with thread and made lace, crochet, tapestries and clothes MY MFA work developed after being given a gift by my sister, of a white cotton quilt which my grandmother had crocheted over a hundred years ago.

When I first touched it, I felt an immediate emotional link to her. I was conscious of how cloth and textiles, hold memory and one’s presence in a unique way. A hand-written letter from my grandmother to my mother on the birth of my brother, also held her voice and presence.

My grandmother passed when I was very young and the white quilt was placed on her body in the ritual of the waking a loved one, the bed signifying the site of conception, birth and death. That ritual was performed by my sisters and I when our mother died.

The quilt motif can be seen the geometric red thread sculptures and in the print. The red thread acts as an umbilical link between my grandmother, my mother and my own children. As such, it references the matriline in my family and the mitochondrial DNA which is passed by the mother to her sons and daughters but can only be continued through her daughter.

That mother/ daughter relationship is recalled in the symbolism of a pomegranate in the painting ‘The Pomegranate! How did I forget it?’ taken from Eavan Boland’s poem ‘The Pomegranate’. It references Bernini’s sculpture of the myth ‘The Abduction of Persephone’ and Jung’s interpretation that Persephone and Demeter, her mother, represent two aspects of the feminine consciousness, motherhood and maidenhood.

Influenced by my Erasmus in Rome, my painting process involves sinopia red pigment underdrawings, used by Giotto in his frescos, underpainting and the layering of paint. Giotto’s work also influenced the presentation of my paintings.

In the digital era of immediate stimuli and ephemera, the durational process of crocheting a quilt and writing a letter, like painting, drawing, print making or making string sculptures,  holds memory and one’s presence in a very unique way.

Male Mitochondrial DNA

The Pomegranate, how did I forget it? After Eavan Boland

Thread Sculpture 1, with Quilt Motif, view from above

Thread Sculpture 1

Thread Sculptures 1 & 2