It’s not very often in this business that you get the chance to be part of an exceptional project that celebrates women and their contribution to Irish politics.
However, this was exactly what happened this week when we were asked to assist the team behind the documentary A Woman’s Place. We had the privilege of being at the premiere on Monday night (25th June), which was very well received by a sell-out crowd at the Irish Film Institute.
The documentary tells the story of the painting by renowned artist Noel Murphy of the current 53 women members of the Oireachtas, which was unveiled in March on International Women’s Day. It gives a fly on the wall view of the artistic process, following Noel as he begins and finishes the painting along with an explanation of the challenges he faced, including the good and the difficult days at mastering this iconic work.
It also features the politicians themselves being interviewed by broadcaster, historian and journalist Eamonn Mallie, discussing the challenges, inspirations and aspirations of women in Irish politics. Former Minister Frances Fitzgerald TD, who was at the premiere, said: ‘’the painting by Noel Murphy is exceptional and really captures the essence of the strong women in the Oireachtas today. However, women in politics should not be in any way confined to a canvas or a TV documentary. We need a critical mass of women in Irish politics. We live in an ‘unfinished democracy’ in Ireland until that is achieved. There is a critical need for women, in business or in politics, and powerful women do not need to be a rarity.’’
One thing that struck me from the documentary is the stoicism and steady determination of these women in the face of the many barriers thrown in front of their ambitions.
The film is required viewing for anyone with even a passing interest in art or politics. It allows you to enjoy a fascinating insight into the artist’s process is fascinating, from the conception of the work, the challenges and how it all comes together.
Noel Murphy said in the film that one of his main objectives with the painting was to draw the eye upwards to the top of the painting, where he painted three iconic figures of Countess Markievicz. Here he was clearly in tune with the director Declan McGrath, and the end result is an uplifting painting and film which make one feel very positive about the future of women in Irish politics.
In this way both the film and the painting allows us to look at where we are now, and what is possible if we raise our aspirations to the heights of Countess Markievicz and her generation.
We must say a huge congratulations to all involved in the project; Producers Eamonn Mallie and his son Michael, Director Declan McGrath, Editor David Grey and of course the brilliant artist Noel Murphy. Huge credit should also be given to all of the Oireachtas members who participated and gave their full backing to the project.