Sarah Bracken Soper
Quiet Revolution, 2018
Embroidery on canvas, 40 x 30 cm
"Quiet Revolution is a portrait of doctor, mum and campaigner for TFMR (terminations for medical reasons) Siobhan Donohue. Siobhan received a diagnosis of a fatal fetal anomaly during her third pregnancy. She made the difficult decision not to continue with the pregnancy and because of the Eighth Amendment was forced to travel to the UK to access the care she needed. I first heard Siobhan speak at the Repeal march on International Women’s Day, and her story brought tears to my eyes. I met her just three days after the referendum result, at the National Gallery, having contacted her on Twitter. We decided to meet after the result so that the portrait could be appropriate to the outcome. I took some photographs that I worked from to create the piece. The portrait captures both her strength and her relief after the result. It was completed in just two weeks of constant stitching. I chose the hand embroidery technique as it was originally associated with a pastime to keep women busy in the home. The process is similar to painting, with the mixing of colours happening on canvas achieved by the blending of threads rather than on a palette. The intersecting and overlapping strands of colour are evocative of the complexity of the struggle for women’s rights in Ireland. Here, Siobhan and the thousands of individual stitches represent all the women affected by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution and those that fought to repeal it. I hope that the portrait in some way acknowledges and commemorates these women on a national platform during a historic year."
Sarah Bracken Soper is an artist, designer and educator based in Dublin, Ireland. She has a degree in fine art and a professional master’s degree in art and design education from NCAD. In her art practice Sarah works in embroidery, print, animation, street art, zines and installations. She is often inspired to create art as a form of activism. The theme of the work dictates the medium. Sarah teaches at both post-primary and third level, and has a background in artistic event management. She founded the Dublin Zine Fair to support independent DIY publishing. Sarah runs a small business called Rosie’s Rags, selling embroidery kits to craft lovers in 26 countries worldwide. She regularly writes embroidery tutorials for craft magazines and works from her home studio in Crumlin.