Sheela-na-gigs and an ‘Aesthetics of Damage’

Dwyer, Benjamin (2018) Sheela-na-gigs and an ‘Aesthetics of Damage’. Enclave Review (16). pp. 11-13.

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In this essay I discuss how the enigmatic stone carvings known as Sheela-na-gigs have impacted my music. These carvings are thought to date from the 11th century or before and are mostly found in Ireland and parts of Britain. The combination of their crudity (they expose exaggerated vulvas and are essentially abject visually), their sacred place in earlier Gaelic communities, and the way they have been treated by ensuing religious power in Ireland make them 'witnesses' to Ireland's colonial, religious and socio-cultural history and a useful feminist lens. This essay explores how sheela-na-gigs have impacted my own compositional aesthetics.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Music group
Item ID: 25100
Notes on copyright: This is the author accepted manuscript of an article published in final form in the Enclave Review (, Issue 16 (Winter / Spring 2018). Reproduced here with permission.
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Depositing User: Benjamin Dwyer
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2018 10:06
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2019 18:48

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