The Print of the Month for January 2020 is ‘Dispatcher’ by Angelina Foster
What’s the background to this print?
One of my favourite artworks is “Dispatcher” for a number of personal reasons. The 2-colour screenprint is based on the story of the female dispatch carriers during 1916. The text reads “the women left their garrisons under deadly fire”.
This print was part of the Little Stories Little Prints exhibition, brought together by Pamela de Brí of the Leinster Print Studio. It toured Ireland as part of the 1916 commemorations. Dispatcher illustrates research I did into the women of 1916, where some of the women, when stopped were sometimes strip-searched at check points so they hid messages in their hair.
In the days leading up to Easter 1916, Kathleen Clarke tasked Sorcha MacMahon with compiling a list of reliable girls. These girls then travelled the country handling key intelligence.
Máire Deegan cycled from Gorey, Wexford, with dispatches for the 1916 leaders braided into a bun in her hair.
Chris Caffrey was arrested, stripped and searched by British soldiers, but by then had eaten the dispatch.
Other dispatchers were Min & Phyllis Ryan, Ina Connolly-Heron, Julia Grennan, Elizabeth O’Farrell, Margaret Skinnider, and Molly O’Reilly (who was just 15 years old when James Connolly asked her to raise the flag over Liberty Hall). Catherine Byrne sent by Pearse to the Four Courts also hid messages in her hair.
All these women left their garrisons under the deadliest of fire. Early 20th Century Ireland had a vibrant women’s equality movement, cemented by the roles they assumed in 1916.
This screenprint is also important to me because the research into the women of 1916 and before was the beginning of my journey back into the Irish Language, a reconnection with my heritage. It provided inspiration to start my own creative business as Angelina’s Art Ventures. There are so many stories of Irish women in history that need to be told. The work Maude Gonne and Alice Milligan did with their Tableaux Vivants became the scéal for my first t-shirt design.
Tell us a little about the technique you used to make this print
This is a two-colour screen print based on a sketch.
What do you love about print/making?
I love the diverse scope of printmaking in making artworks. I have always loved texture & mark making so in print there is always an element of surprise and experimentation. I also love colour so screen printing is a perfect medium for me. If I could travel back in time I would love to see the reaction to the first Pop Art screenprints in the 60’s.
Pop art of the 60’s was a boys club, often overlooked Sister Mary Corita Kent was using serigraph long before Warhol. She was a civil rights activist who used the medium of screen printing as a voice. I love that she is the opposite to most people’s impression of an artist of this time.
Screen printers that catch my interest today are Daria Tessler, Alice Pattullo, Laurie Hastings, and Nini Sum.
Which print/artwork would you love to own?
Having worked sign writing buses & horse boxes when I was a teenager, in recent years I have returned to many things I was discouraged to follow, namely calligraphy, typography and the influence of language in Art. There are so many artworks from different disciplines I admire!
If I was to own an artwork it would be one of Frida Kahlo’s, really what I admire most is the inspiration she has provided for other artists. I am very interested in folklore history, prehistoric metal & stone symbolism so Frida’s interpretation of folklore and colour make me curious.
Contemporaries which cross boundaries, I would love on a wall but not mine (as I think they need to be in public) are Denis Brown’s Blessed Art/Get your Rosary off my Ovaries or any Banksy. Street Art is a form of printmaking and I think from an impact point of view Banksy has used his skill to really make society think while Denis Brown has invigorated the impression of Irish calligraphy as an artform.
Angelina’s print ‘Dispatcher’ is available to buy from our online store https://www.blackstackstudio.com/v1/product/1916-dispatcher/