Class of 2023 • Design

Eva Kerley

Eva Kerley
National College of Art and Design (NCAD)


Graduation Year
Class of 2023


My project is called ‘Cuimhneas’ (memory). The Designs are inspired by the book ‘Belonging’ by Catherine Corless and Naomi Linehan. A book detailing the stories of the Tuam Mother & Baby Home victims and survivors. An institution like many others in Ireland, where unwed mothers were incarcerated and their children taken off them against their will. The collection explores nurture and the darkness of the memories of ‘the home babies’ and their Mothers. The fabrics intend to act as an antidote to these horrible memories and heal. Cuimhneas is a collection of blankets, each reflecting the story of individuals mentioned in the book. Blankets are one of the first objects that humans form a bond with. They provide comfort, security and nurture, similar to a mother's embrace. The ‘Cuimhneas’ collection is intended to be appreciated as blankets and healing objects. The fabrics' scent, colour and feel have been carefully curated to promote the utmost sense of comfort. The aim is to target the wearer’s inner child and emulate the familiar sense of security. And promote nurturing oneself in adulthood. Using carefully selected fibres and natural dyeing makes this collection sustainable, low impact and gentle on the skin.My colours are derived from natural dye experimentation inspired by ayurvastra textiles, a branch of traditional Indian Medicine that uses herb-infused and herb-dyed organic fabrics as healing agents. I have used nettles, avocado, red cabbage, logwood, and indigo as natural dye sources. As the dye sources have conceptual meaning, I explored how to enhance the sensory experience and promote healing. I had the idea of using essential oils for therapeutic purposes with my textiles. My yarns, lambswool, cashmere, silk, mohair, linen and organic cotton, were selected for their soft physical qualities, colourfastness and biodegradability. These materials stimulate your senses and promote relaxation and self-care. My subject matter was selected not just because my uncle came from a Mother & Baby home but also because survivors of these institutions are still fighting for justice today. According to Catherine's book, they are still campaigning for the children to be laid to rest with respect and reunited with their families. During her investigation, Catherine discovered that it was extremely difficult to uncover details of any of these homes, which operated between 1916 and 1998, representing a significant piece of Irish history that had been lost. Approximately 60,000 unmarried women and children were accommodated in these institutions across Ireland. A horrifying 9,000 children passed away. And the majority of the republic was oblivious to the atrocities. This collection draws awareness of this social/political issue while making tangible objects to write into history. To emphasise that these institutions' women and children are finally recognised and honoured.
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