New School for Girls (2014/15)

Natural History of Hope project was in residence in Studio 468 in Rialto for seven months Nov ’14-May’15, funded through the Create – Artist in the Community Scheme. This phase of the project saw the development of a temporary community based school ‘New School for Girls’ for 16 women aged 16-45 who had been central to the process.

Drawing from a range of ongoing processes operating under the banner of Natural History of Hope, 16 females from four generations gathered in this temporary ‘school’. This included the core group of six women leading the project. There were no teachers. There was no curriculum. Taking power, solidarity and personal truth as the three values of the school, the intention was to unite across difference, examine and grow power and self-direct our own schooling based on each person’s own truth. This process was supported by Professor Kathleen Lynch (School of Social Justice UCD) and Dr. Martina Carroll (community psychologist) who assisted in analysing the collection of anonymous stories and drawing out a range of pertinent themes relating to class and gender inequality as they play out in women’s daily lives.  A number of intimate live events built around the anonymous stories of women took place during the residency and five characters were developed to bring to life the experiences of women and girls. Towards the end of the Studio 468 residency, as the school closed, the group developed an idea to take their work into the public domain through a major public performance in 2016.