With growing racial tensions across the globe and the emergence of far right groups in Ireland, #IamIrish made its mark on home ground to challenge perceptions of what it looks like to be Irish in 2017.
From October 2nd – 31st 2017 in Axis Ballymun, #IamIrish presented an exhibition and series of events exploring Identity, Race, Culture and Heritage. Inspired by a persisting lack of representation of the Black Irish experience, Lorraine Maher launched the project to celebrate a more diverse representation of Irish identity and to question the concept of ‘Irishness’ and what that means for Irish communities today.
The project mapped the roots, the lives and experiences of Irish people of mixed heritage creating a unique opportunity to challenge perceptions of what it looks like to be Irish and open up people’s minds to the diversity of Irish people.
Maher collaborated with photographer Tracey Anderson to make an intimate study of the faces, lives and experiences of 22 mixed race Irish people living in the UK. The series of portraits were exhibited at Axis Arts Centre, Ballymun from October 2– 31, and were complimented by a series of school and community group visits and a public conversation exploring perceptions of Colour, Culture, Identity, Heritage and the challenges faced in Irish society.
Maher says: ‘As a mixed race Irish woman born to an Irish woman growing up in Ireland in the 60s, ‘No Blacks. No Dogs. No Irish’ was the only explanation for my existence…Presenting #IamIrish as part of Black History Month is a powerful and symbolic opportunity to unite these celebrations of Black and Irish heritage and put Ireland’s long history of dual heritage firmly into focus.
After a highly successful launch at the London Irish Centre in October 2016 the exhibition is making its Irish debut in Axis Ballymun with this impressive creative community experience brought together in in celebration of Black History Month 2017.
Lorraine and Axis are very grateful to The British Council and Dublin City Arts Office for their generous support in helping to make this exhibition and the important conversations that lie at its heart possible.