The artwork ‘We See You, We Hear You’ commemorates 40 years of COPE Galway’s Domestic Abuse Service and will travel to different parts of Galway city and county
A new art installation, commissioned by COPE Galway Domestic Abuse Service to mark its 40th anniversary, was unveiled to the public today (28.11.22) in Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Galway. The local charity commissioned the installation in partnership with the Radius Project, ATU School of Design and Creative Arts to highlight the issue of violence against women.
The sculptural work, titled ‘We See You, We Hear You’ is by Galway artist and ATU graduate Maura Finnegan, who was commissioned to create the piece in collaboration with women who have engaged with COPE Galway’s Domestic Abuse Service and members of its staff.
COPE Galway chose today to launch the artwork in observance of the annual UN-supported 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign that’s currently taking place internationally.
The art installation comprises seven display cases on plinths. Six of the cases contain heads sculpted from plaster that depict different women, and each one has a QR code that connects to an audio recording of an anonymous COPE Galway service user telling the story of her real experience of domestic abuse in her own words. A seventh box is left empty to represent women who have lost their lives due to domestic violence.
Describing the piece, the artist Maura Finnegan, who is a graduate of the MA Creative Practice course at ATU, said: “I chose to sculpt the head and face of women from a diverse age and cultural demographic, six in all, representative of Galway city and county in contemporary society. There is a seventh display case laid empty, indicating the worst possible outcome of domestic abuse. The sculpted heads embody silence, a word which occurred frequently in collaborative conversations with both the staff and clients of COPE Galway. While the sculptural figurative forms remain entrapped in silence, their words can be heard privately in audio files, accessed through your smartphone via a QR code to COPE Galway’s website.”
Speaking at the unveiling of the sculpture today in ATU, Training and Development Lead with COPE Galway Domestic Abuse Service, Jackie Carroll, said: “It’s always a privilege to work with survivors of domestic abuse and getting their input into this significant art project was hugely important. As we look back on 40 years of our domestic abuse service provision, I hope that the sculpture will raise awareness and I hope other women come forward and get the support needed.
“We know that significant numbers of women in every community experience domestic abuse. One in five women in Ireland will be abused by her partner at some stage in her life – and these women come from all walks of life. Abuse is not confined to any class, culture, creed or career. It takes many forms, including digital. By highlighting the issue within a public space, we are showing our support to those women and their children. By engaging with this art project, our communities are supporting us in saving lives.”
Also commenting, Head of the School of Design and Creative Arts at ATU, Dr. Paddy Tobin, said: “Our team at the School of Design and Creative Arts, ATU, are honoured to be involved in this project, recognising the impactful work of COPE Galway Domestic Abuse Service. It’s important to commemorate their work over the past 40 years, in providing vital support services to women and families.”
Locations and Dates
The ‘We See You, We Hear You’ art installation is going on public view in different locations in Galway city and county on the following dates:
- ATU School of Design and Creative Arts, Wellpark Road, Galway City, now until 30th November.
- ATU Dublin Road Campus, Café Foyer, Galway City, 30th November to 5th December.
- An Garda Síochána Western Region Headquarters, Renmore, Galway City, 12th to 16th December.
- From early January, it will be travelling to many of the communities around Galway county, where COPE Galway provides a domestic abuse outreach service.
- It will return to Galway city as part of COPE Galway’s activities for marking International Women’s Day on Wednesday, 8th March 2023.
For more details and updates about the COPE Galway Domestic Abuse Service ‘We See You, We Hear You’ art project, see www.copegalway.ie and its social media channels.
The ‘We See You, We Hear You’ art project was commissioned in partnership with the ATU Galway Radius Project and it is supported by Medtronic.
Notes to Editors
Press photographer Andrew Downes will be issuing photos from the official unveiling of the ‘We See You, We Hear You’ art installation to photodesks – for reproduction free of charge – this afternoon (Monday, 28th November).
Jackie Carroll, Training & Development Lead, COPE Galway is available for media interview via Alice PP & Events.
The following are three of the real stories transcribed from the audio recordings that form part of the ‘We See You, We Hear You’ art project, shared by anonymous users of COPE Galway’s Domestic Violence Service:
- “When I did escape physically from my ex, the abuse continued online, which was excruciatingly painful and caused fear, stress and anxiety. I was on so many tablets. Sometimes I would wake up to 40 or 50 vile abusive messages on my phone, both in texts and screaming abuse in voicemails. I would block his number, change my number, but sooner or later he would find me. I was so afraid. He could appear anywhere; outside shops, where I worked, at any time of the day or night. Although I had a barring order against him, he would still appear, careful to observe the ruling distance. This went on for over a year, until he moved away. But I can never be sure.”
- “The women who have in the past, or who are currently suffering from domestic abuse were asked to identify three words that best describe their life experiences… Devalued, isolation, grief, oppressed, disrespected by the courts, subjugation, silence… For me, everything was about how to respond to his humour, his mood… like gauging him… How to keep him even; on an even keel. Definitely financial control… Responsive to his demands… Shame by partner and the courts… Loneliness, imprisoned and a restricted, violated puppet… Fear, which I find hardest to deal with… Isolation, pretending, humiliation, misunderstood, the courts, avoidance and shame… Some positive words, too… Pride, resilient, overcome, survive, brave, protectors and love… Strength, hope, truth… I am no longer a passenger in someone else’s life — I’m a driver in my own life.”
- “The first time he hit me was after he came home from the pub. Up until then I knew he had a temper but I never thought he would hit me. I’ve two boys and I really didn’t know what to do. They really love their dad, but they were very frightened when they heard him screaming and shouting. He would always say he was sorry, that he didn’t mean it, and that it only happened when he was drinking. But he wouldn’t give up the drink and nothing changed. I knew I had to leave. Even after we separated the abuse continued. He was always late bringing the children back from access and I would be up the walls worrying if he was going to bring them back at all. He’d try to turn the children against me and sometimes my older son becomes abusive. I’m worried he’ll turn out like his dad.”
About COPE Galway Domestic Abuse Service
COPE Galway’s Domestic Abuse Service first opened its doors to women in 1981 and over the past 40 years has supported over 12,000 women and their children. The service supports women and children in Galway who experience domestic abuse and violence. Its staff are there to listen, believe and support people in their journey to a life free from domestic abuse.
More information is available on the website copegalway.ie/weseeyou.
The COPE Galway social media channels are: