From Wednesday 13 February, a new exhibition by Belfast based artist,  Emma Campbell opens in The Copper House Gallery , Synge Street, Dublin 8. The title of Emma’s exhibition is When They Put Their Hands Out Like Scales. Running from February 13 to March 12 2013, Emma, through photography examines reproductive rights. All the photographs from this exhibition are taken from windows during journeys from abortion clinics between Liverpool and London. The abstract and introduction to this exhibition is as follows:

Power, exercised as control, has blighted the reproductive rights of humans worldwide for centuries.

National ideals of motherhood and acceptable female behaviour are threaded through anti-choice arguments. To represent the ‘abortion journey’ experience, in effect it becomes the “fulcrum of a much broader ideological struggle in which the very meanings of family, the state, motherhood, and …women’s sexuality are contested”.[1]

The polemic surrounding abortion is bewildering. Ambiguity and conflict are played out in the passing landscapes and impersonal details of the journey to the clinic overseas, echoed by the political bluster and suffocating reality of the legal constrictions. Layers of glass and reflection acknowledge the obfuscatory and morally indignant language used by politicians and anti-choice campaigners.

The enforced exile across the sea to the former colonial bosom, shrouded in secrecy and shame, is still one of the few options for women in the island of Ireland.

All of these photographs were made sitting by windows during journeys to abortion clinics in Liverpool and London.

[1] Petchesky, Rosalind. Abortion and Women’s Choice: The State, Sexuality and Reproductive Freedom London: Verso 1986 pp. 69.


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Written by Liam Thornton

Liam Thornton is a lecturer in law and director of clinical legal education in University College Dublin. His particular research interests are on issues relating to the welfare state, human rights, socio-economic rights, Governmentality, immigration law and EU law. You can contact him at liam.thornton[at] or (+353) 1 716 4129.