Talking in Circles: Community voices discuss equality issues at the heart (and art) of society in Ireland.

talking in circles square Final Design


Talking in Circles is a half day seminar hosted by A4 Studios, with an introduction and facilitation by Dr Karen Nickell. Studio artists Fiona Harrington and Siobhán Clancy will speak about their work, along with invited guest Marja Almqvist, and participants from three very different socially engaged textile projects.

At a time the tri-colour flies on flagpoles all around Ireland in commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising, this event returns to the original revolutionary vision to unpick the threads of the legacy we have inherited.  Each artist will discuss the concerns of the groups they are currently working with, and how art can give expression to voices silenced, ignored or excluded from the dominant discourse on social equality in the past century.

This event invites attendees to actively participate in the discussion. The format for the day draws on historical and contemporary forms of feminist knowledge sharing, philosophical discussion and political organising from the revolutionary sewing circle to the stitch and bitch.  Refreshments will be available throughout and attendees are invited to bring your needles and learn traditional lace making techniques!

A4’s mission is to transform the means by which cultural works are produced, accessed, and understood in Ireland, and by doing so to contribute to the development of a more just society. We want to Make Art That Matters. Talking in Circles is the first in a series of events at A4 Studios supporting the socially engaged practice of member artists.


Running Order:

1:30pm Tea & Cake

1:45pm Talks & Discussion

Introduction by Dr Karen Nickell (Troubles Textiles)
Guest Artist Marja Almqvist (77 Women Commemorative Quilt)
Siobhan Clancy & Emily Waszak (home|work collective)
Fiona Harrington (Textiles & the Artist in Prison Scheme)

3:15pm Hot Drop 1

3:30pm Discussion (facilitated by Dr Karen Nickell

4:30pm Hot Drop 2

4:30pm Lace-making workshop with Fiona Harrington

5:30pm Hot Drop 3

6:00pm Wine Reception & Performances

(Link to Facebook event page for updates and discussion)

talking in circles square invite final


Bios of Speakers (in alphabetical order)

Marja Almqvist runs the community based textile studio, The Yarn School in Inchicore. Work in the Yarn School is inspired by the fact that every culture in human history has created textiles for the enrichment of life, and is dedicated to keeping the skills and possibilities for creative expression alive and accessible to all. Recent projects include the performance workshop, A Short History of Feminism, and the 77 Women Commemorative Quilt.

Siobhán Clancy’s practice explores models of socialization that impact on individual wellbeing in contexts of health, disability, education and young people.  home|work is a feminist art collective that confronts censorship and self-censorship through art, action, performance, conversation and camaraderie. home|work emerged from a research and development phase undertaken by Siobhán with activist members of the Abortion Rights Campaign. It is funded under The Arts Council Artist in the Community Scheme Phase I Award managed by Create (The National Development Agency for Collaborative Arts).

Fiona Harrington’s practice focuses on redefining the ‘traditional craft’ of lacemaking.  Lace is a meticulous and time demanding activity which completely opposes mass production of modern society. By engaging in this process, Fiona’s work attempts to reconnect with the true meaning of ‘handmade’ and explore how the technical structures of lace can be used as a framework for creative exploration. In January 2016 Fiona began working with a group of male prisoners in Mountjoy Prison. Using a combination of stitch and paint techniques, they considered the effect, if any, of 1916 on shaping their perceptions and identity.

Dr Karen Nickell is an artist, researcher and part-time lecturer at the Belfast School of Art. She taught in special needs education and pursued textiles as a hobby for many years, before returning to university to study art. Her doctoral research investigated embroidery in Ireland from the 1960s to the present day. The broad and inclusive approach included amateur and professional practices, the use of textiles in art, textile arts and crafts in the community, and individual and community responses to the Troubles expressed through cloth and stitch.

Emily Waszak is a textile artist focusing on Japanese textiles and technique, specifically indigo shibori dyeing.  Emily’s work seeks to analyse the intersection of Japanese and Western cultures by exploring the concept of wayousecchu as an expression of her own racial identity.  As a member of the home|work Collective, Emily led the group through a series of workshops using the indigo dyeing process as way to further explore and materially express the concepts of censorship and bodily autonomy, building on the home|work Collective’s previous work.



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