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Electric Irish Homes Textile Project

The Project
The Electric Irish Homes Textile Art Project is a community textile project commissioned by Age and Opportunity in partnership with the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life as part of the Kitchen Power exhibition. It was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) as part of the Electric Irish Homes research project, Kingston University, which led to this exhibition.
The work on display in the National Museum of Ireland - Country Life was made in response to the theme of rural electrification in Ireland, especially its impact on women. It is a body of work that captures a sense of the unique and individual voices and reflections on this important and transformative time in Irish life.
The pieces were made by a group of local women under the guidance of visual artist Anna Spearman, using a range of creative approaches.
“I guess the challenge is to draw out those individual voices, and for me that is the joy of doing this kind of work.” Anna Spearman, Artist
The Process
The project began with a trip to An Grianán in County Louth, the adult education college of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA) and the visit highlighted the key role played by the ICA in the push for rural electrification. At An Grianán, the participants explored relevant research material and shared their own experiences and memories. Objects in the collections of the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life provided further inspiration.
A series of workshops followed in the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life which included reminiscence and screen-printing workshops. Participants documented their experiences of country life before and after rural electrification in personal visual journals, which formed the basis of 2D and 3D textile art pieces in a range of materials. It was showcased as part of the Bealtaine Festival 2019, as well as the Kitchen Power exhibition.
“I really enjoyed the experience of doing the project with Anna. I really went into the project in a big way and I participated in most things and I really enjoyed it.”
Maura McGuinness, Participant
Textile Craft Pack
Participants also put together a series of four DIY craft packs. Each pack features a textile piece made by one of the group, and includes a screen printed ‘pattern’ (a piece of cotton with a printed outline of the image), a variety of pieces of fabric and threads with which to make a personalised version of this textile piece, and a set of instructions (some basic stitching techniques and suggestions). For more information on the textile craft pack click here:
Working with Communities
The Electric Irish Homes Textile project reflects our aim of opening up the Museum as a space where people can share their stories and interpretations of the objects they see on display. Such projects facilitate groups to get to know new people, generate new ideas and connect on a deeper level with NMI collections.
Collaboration was also at the heart of this project where the artist and communities came together with Museum educator to develop themes and an exhibition. The community had a key role to play in co-creating and co-curating the content for this exhibition in collaboration with the artist. This democratic way of working reflects the approach that the Education Department promote when working with groups and communities on the design and development of exhibitions.

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