Maeve Coulter – Home Sweet Home, Tuam
What’s the background to this print?
I made this piece back in 2014 when the news first broke about the Tuam Mother and Baby Home. It is a digital print on fabric with hand stitch. The image is of the now familiar and grossly inadequate memorial to the unnamed infants from the former Mother & Baby home. The words Home Sweet Home are carefully stitched to match the colours of the background image. The stitches blend discreetly but the text becomes apparent when under a spotlight, a shadow cast by the words appears on the wall behind.
Since 2014 the revelations have become increasingly disturbing. I’m somewhat heartened to hear of the recent commitment from government to excavate, identify remains and provide a respectful burial at last. I’m beyond rage and dismay at the paltry €2.5 million fixed sum committed to the excavation costs by the Bon Secours sisters who ran the home and whose mission it is to “care for the sick, the dying and their families within a Catholic ethos”.
Tell us a little about the technique you used to make this print?
Process is important to me, it’s often part of the message. In this case it’s the stitch that is significant. Cross stitch and the phrase Home Sweet Home, particularly when embroidered, is synonymous with domesticity and femininity, modesty and subservience. The shadow cast by the embroidered words aims to question the notion of upholding the appearance of respectability at all costs.
What do you love about print?
I love that it is affordable, accessible and its origins as a means to communicate to the masses not the few. I love that it is so broad, encompassing both tradition and innovation, satisfying to both the old school and the more avant-garde. I love the ritual of preparing to print, the suspense when rolling a plate through the press and the thrill of peeling back the paper to reveal the image is as potent now as when I made my first print.
Which print/artwork would you love to own?
Any etching by Paula Rego or photographic print by Idris Khan. I love Vincent Sheridan’s murmuration etchings and I wouldn’t say no to a Goya.