Born in Dublin in 1970, Martina Cleary is a multi-media artist working primarily with photography and video. In Ireland she attended NCAD and The Crawford College of Art & Design, followed by post-graduate studies at The Academy of Fine Arts and The University of Art & Design, Helsinki. Beginning in the early 90’s, her work has been shown and collected in Ireland, Finland and Germany. Along with her work as an artist, Martina is currently Head of Photography at Burren College of Art and an associate tutor in the Dept. of Print at Cardiff School of Art & Design. Visually Cleary’s work often combines elements of ‘tableaux vivant’ and ‘documentary’ photography. She is concerned with finding meaningful ways of engagement with contemporary issues impacting upon the everyday lives of her subjects, while also touching upon deeper archetypical truths.
Influenced by the writings of Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva and Catherine Clement, this work seeks to re-introduce the psychological complexity of an ancient archetypical structure to explore the regenerative and transformative potential of the mother-daughter relationship. This series marks the final stage of a project exploring gender-based violence begun in 2008. While earlier stages of this work were more documentary in style and approach, the decision to use staged re-enactment was here a response to the need to find transformative potential or meaning in events that so often seem to have none. It evolved from answers given to the question, “What was the turning point for you?.” The choice of this story in particular, was inspired by real accounts gathered through individual interviews conducted at a number of local women’s shelters and grass roots organizations in the West of Ireland. The twelve tableaux images shown here refer to key moments within the cycle of the Eleusinian Mysteries.