‘SORT OUR SMEARS CAMPAIGN’ – 2019 Community Art as Activism Supported by NCCWN



These pieces of art were created by women as an act of ARTIVISM – ART & ACTIVISM in solidarity with those women whose lives has been catastrophically affected by the cervical smear test failures. Women supporting women while highlighting concerns about this unacceptable scandal.

Starting this project was terrifying as I am not an outwardly political person. Although I have always held very strong views about human rights issues and women’s rights my artwork has been the ‘Silent Voice’ of my activism, a safer place from which to object to or highlight injustice. Now with this life experience as a woman I am stepping out of the studio voicing the question “who am I”? as a woman with daughters, a sister, a mother, aunts,  nieces,  women friends, women I admire, women I haven’t met yet, women I will never know, teenage girls who are neighbours and so on and so on….. Who am I ‘NOT’ to stand up for our medical right to a healthy life? The women of Ireland, individuals and groups supported by the National Collective of Community Based Women’s Networks, created pieces of art in solidarity with the 221+ women. The artwork design is simple format of a circle and downward triangle, ancient symbols of a woman’s reproductive system and the sacred divine feminine, with colours of red for blood and gold for the demand of a gold standard of excellence in women’s healthcare. The Mandala Installation was shown at Rua Red Art Centre on 14/09/19 where Karen performed a powerful Sile Na Gig Healing Ceremony with men, women and children who attended.  To all the women ‘Artivists’ I applaud you for your courage, for your powerful creativity, for your solidarity with and support of other women.  Two quotes from Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes from her poem ’Just a note from an old Activist:  “I’ve told you, I will keep telling you to bring the best medicine to the worst of wounds ……”  “…. I send all my love to you in this time that activity will be more and more critically important than ever before. Bless global, act Local. Think small, One’s home, one street, one road, one neighbourhood, a village, a county, a town, city, state, a province. Start anywhere, I know you know how. Holy questions are When? How often? For how long? I suggest today, tonight, every day, forever.  The courageous and inspiring Vicky Phelan from her memoir ‘Overcoming’ which coincidentally launched a couple of day before ‘Sort Our Smears’ Mandala:                

“My dying wish will be for the women of Ireland, that because of what has happened is this past year, maybe my last year on earth, they will be able to trust that their lives are in safe hands. That they will be minded and cared for at their most vulnerable and that everything will be done to give them the lives they deserve, the time they deserve with the people they love and who love them and who need them in the world. There will be others who continue this fight without me when I am gone because we are all in this together at the end of the day. We all come from that same place, from a mother’s womb, this is everybody’s story”                                 


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