Marie Brett speaking about her exprerience that sparked the Memory Dress Project
Raw deeply felt emotions were revealed. Intimate recollections and cherished memories of children loved and lost but not forgotten. Slowely staff, patients and visitors shared memories of pregnant girls, babies born out of wedlock, family shame, whispering wards, watching windows, hidden underground passageways, the faceless lives of babies taken and given to new parents. Tidied up awkwardness; shadows of the past whitewashed by caring others.
One day while meeting with the hopsital seamstress in the Sewing Hall of St Finbarr’s Hospital Cork, I noticed and was struck by the tiny dresses, edged with pink or blue ribbon, specially made by the seamstress. The dresses are used by The Maternity Unit for babies who have died. This stark and silent testimony of lives un-lived echhosed deeply within and planted the seed of an idea for the Memory Dress project.
“ … family shame, whispering wards and watching windows; hidden underground passageways, the face-less lives of babies taken and given away at birth to new parents. Tidied up awkwardness; shadows of the past whitewashed by caring others”
Marie Brett from ‘The Lost Children’ book
Lost Children is a sculptural installation responding to the socio-historical legacy of unmarried pregnancy in the context of Ireland’s Magdalene Laundries. The art piece explores the relation of physical and psychological aspects of grief and loss and grew from Memory Dress an Artist Residency project at St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork with artist Charlotte Donovan; commissioned by Triskel Arts Centre.