Evelyn Gleeson and The Dun Emer Guild: Redefining a Woman’s Place in the Arts
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This thesis will explore a myriad of topics not often analyzed within the art historical academic field. It adds to recent endeavors to understand the role of women as artists in the early twentieth century by highlighting the contributions of specific women who revolutionized Irish art. The thesis emphasizes aspects of art often omitted from art history, including “domestic” pieces such as weaving, embroidery, clothing, and fabrics. During the late nineteenth century, the English Arts and Crafts Movement stimulated a revival of craft practices throughout Europe. In Ireland, this artistic movement was particularly significant as the nation was simultaneously trying to gain independence from England. One way to break from colonialist structures was to revive artistic practices upheld in western Ireland which was noted for preserving “true” Irish identity. The revival of Irish industries such as weaving and embroidery, composed from native materials, was thereby essential to nationalist discourse. Guilds and societies were formed, each specializing in a form of Irish craft or industry. One woman and guild in particular form the subjects of my study: Evelyn Gleeson and the Dun Emer Guild. Gleeson was an advocate for three things: the revival of decorative craft practices, Irish nationalism, and the suffragist movement. From these three subjects, I examine how Gleeson, and the Dun Emer Guild wove these themes into one another and utilized each one to promote the visual representation and agency for women in Irish society. During a time in Ireland that was based on extremes, the Dun Emer Guild found a middle ground to ensure a lasting legacy for Irish handmade goods, still appreciated today. The Dun Emer Guild is surprisingly absent from modern discussions in the Arts and Crafts Movement. This thesis will provide an argument for Evelyn Gleeson and the Dun Emer Guild’s artistic legacy to inspire a continued appreciation of women in the arts.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Sweet disorder -- Redefining women's work & establishing a legacy -- Conclusion
M.A. (Master of Arts)