The Muse of the Greenhouse

Clare Gallagher (Photographer), Jana Kukaine (Other)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

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"The Muse of the Greenhouse" took place in Kaunas Photography Gallery, part of the international project "A Woman's Work". The exhibition curated by Jana Kukaine (Latvia) presented artists Irena Giedraitiene (Lithuania), Clare Gallagher (Northern Ireland), Jaana Kokko (Finland) and Elīna Brasliņa (Latvia).

The exhibition was built around the notion of the greenhouse and its multiple social, political and economical meanings. It strives to embrace both the Soviet legacy and today’s patterns of private gardening, as well as to address the issues of migration of seasonal workers.

Growing food is one of the most intrinsic activities of sustaining life – the patience and care work it requires resembles the practices of maternal work and thus brings in the perspective of parenting and the labour of love. Furthermore, during the Covid-19 pandemic for many urban inhabitants domestic growing is transforming the claustrophobia of home into a place of retreat

A set of bodily sensations associated with the greenhouse enacts a life circle – from seeding, germination, blossoming, ripening and harvest to decay and extinction, thus highlighting human vulnerability, mutual interdependence between the human and the natural and the fragility of life itself. Finally, the figure of Muse as included in the title of the exhibition, hits on the ambiguous presence of women in arts, the unpaid labor of emotional and sexual maintenance they routinely perform and the never-ending challenges of balancing professional and familial obligations.

The exhibition showed two of the artist's series: The Second Shift and Domestic Drift. The Second Shift is concerned with the hidden, unpaid work of home usually carried out by women outside their paid employment. It reflects on the repetitive work of cleaning, cooking and care as well as the emotional affects of intimacy, attachment and tensions in the home.

The series Domestic Drift turns towards the often claustrophobic experience of home with small children and the work that women do there, while juggling the pressures of outside employment. It examines familiarity and boredom, as well as the seemingly relentless work of cooking, cleaning and childcare. The time of home is cyclical, with routine actions performed on repeat, threatening frustration and denying a feeling of progress. It examines the sense of ordinariness inherent in the repetitive, habitual work of home while trying to appreciate the experience as simultaneously mundane and precious.

“A Woman’s Work” is a two-year project, led by Ffotogallery and funded through Creative Europe, that uses photography and digital media to address social issues through artistic collaboration and exchange across borders, and the co-production of exhibitions, publications and online resources that challenge the dominant view of gender and industry in Europe. Ffotogallery has teamed up with cultural partners in Lithuania, Ireland, France, Finland and Germany to present to audiences new work focusing on the changing face of women and work in Europe, with a sharing of professional experience and practice using both physical and online platforms.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2020


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