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New Collection Published on DRI - Artists' Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment Archive

DRI is pleased to announce the publication of a new collection in the repository - Artists' Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment Archive published by National Irish Visual Arts Library (NIVAL).

The Artists' Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment was set up in 2015 by visual artists Cecily Brennan, Alice Maher, Eithne Jordan, and the poet Paula Meehan. It began as an online campaign appealing to fellow artists, writers, musicians, and actors to put their names to a statement calling for a repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland (Article 40.3.3). The campaign group aimed to promote national and international awareness of the restrictive reproductive laws of Ireland and to encourage and inspire other groups and activists to use cultural means to promote social change.

The group went on to have a large presence at various demonstration marches including March for Choice (2016 & 2017), Strike for Repeal (2017), and International Women's Day (2018). Exhibitions and events included Day of Testimonies (2017) held at Project Arts Centre, Art and Action (2017) held at NCAD Gallery, EVA International Biennial (2018) held in Limerick, various Shred It events (2017-2018), 20 Seconds for Yes (2018) and Witness (2018).

The Artists' Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment played a leading role in the decisive referendum with ‘an unprecedented intervention in the public life of the State on the part of artists’.

Clare Lymer, Digital Collections Officer at NIVAL, said of the collection publication:

The archive of the Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment is documentary evidence of a decisive moment in the interface between artists and public policy. This rich, meticulously compiled collection of primary source material attests to the significant and powerful contribution made by the Campaign to the national movement for repeal. The archive demonstrates the tireless work of the founding members and a wide network of individuals and grassroots organisers committed to social change. Thousands of images and videos bear witness to a Campaign that combined art and politics to amplify their voices. They communicated ideas in creative and impactful ways, organising events such as the Day of Testimonies, and creating remarkable banners to lead demonstration marches. This archive is of interest not only to NIVAL’s customary user-base of art and design researchers but is also a useful resource for those interested in Public Policy, Social History, National Activism, Women’s History, Medical History, and Gender Equality. NIVAL is delighted that the collection is now accessible through the DRI and preserved for future generations.

Clare participated in an online event hosted by DRI as part of Culture Night 2020, which explored the long-term preservation of at-risk culturally significant digital materials, like the Artists' Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment Archive. You can listen to the interview on DRI to learn more about this important collection:

This collection adds to a growing body of content being ingested into DRI which documents the historical and social impact of the debate on abortion access in Ireland. This content includes research data collections such as the recently published ‘Repeal the Eighth and Reproductive Rights’ collection, as well as content from organisations involved in campaigning in the run-up to the referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment, much of which is being collected by the DRI under the Wellcome Trust funded project ‘Digital Preservation of Reproductive Health Resources: Archiving the 8th’. This new collection by NIVAL enriches and informs Irish archival material documenting moments of social change and DRI is pleased to be able to preserve it for long-term access.

The Artists’ Campaign to Repeal the Eighth Amendment collection can be accessed in the repository here: