New Umbilical

Leia Mocan &
Barbara O’Meara

Migrant Artists & Cultural Diversity


New Umbilical

Leia Mocan & Barbara O’Meara

NEW UMBILICAL’ is a collaborative project by Leia Mocan and Barbara O’Meara. This new work explores an invisible cord linking individual artists through their art. This is also a connection between the two cultures: Romanian and Irish. From a conceptual perspective, this body of work explores the metamorphosis of the artists’ self-shifting identities and the all-consuming creation process.

A eulogy of transformation marking the continuous migration of self through the means of video production, interleaved with spoken word poems, performance art, paintings & found imagery.

The artists Leia Mocan and Barbara O’Meara met and collaborated during the Centre for Creative Practices’ ‘New Voices of Ireland Series in 2021. Subsequently, the New Umbilical project was commissioned by the Centre for Creative Practices under their new scheme called the Third Space, which supports collaboration between migrant and local artists and is funded by The Arts Council of Ireland.

The New Umbilical is based on the concept of Leia’s initial video piece Umbilical Cord.

The New Umbilical incorporates elements of Mind, Body and Spirit, where the alchemy of the different creative processes melded together in the exciting new video installation to be presented at Gallery X on the 11th of October 2022.

The artists collaborated over nine months in 2022 to create a physical textile piece using recycled material and a hand-sewn cord to represent an umbilical connection. The stitching together of the cord, using only one needle passed between both artists in synchronised movements, was filmed as a performance piece. The poetry, spoken in their languages, was inspired by the theme of ‘New Umbilical’ and was specifically written and performed by each artist for this project.

The soundtrack for the video incorporates the music of both the traditional Romanian Instrument for Leia and the Irish Celtic Drum played by Barbara to represent each artist’s individual background and culture. The soundtrack is enhanced by the talents of Robert David; it perfectly accompanies Leia’s performance and Barbara’s original artwork resulting in a powerful and meaningful collaborative piece which connects the two artists, their creative processes and their journey to bring this video installation piece ‘New Umbilical’ to a broader audience.

Leia Mocan

Leia Mocan is a multimedia artist and activist working in the mediums of Photography, Sculpture, Art Installation, Art Performance, and Painti. Leia graduated in 2019 from the Griffith College where she earned a BA in Visual Arts, Photography. She was accepted in the Stand Collective Ideas program, a collaborative and creative initiative funded by Irish Aid with a focus on global issues based on the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) framework. As part of this initiative of Suas Educational Development, Leia developed the project “#StopWearingDeadSkin which reached 20k audience in the first 10 days after launch”. Her work was featured in the group exhibition “Cultural memory, transition, temporality” included in the “Culture Night Festival 2019” and several other local and international exhibitions. She received the “Covid-19 Crisis Response Award”, founded by Arts Council ( June 2020 ). 

Artist’s Statement

My work is not intended to look beautiful, to be defined as a decorative object, to please the eye. Here, aesthetics performs a different function, it acts as a form of mass communication, a channel through which an effect is transmitted. My practice represents a platform to address the environmental agenda in a conceptual context, promoted throughout all the production cycles: concept, development, project execution & presentation. These bodies of work which are created entirely out of up-cycled elements aim to promote our planet’s natural resources, creating environmental awareness, in the hope of impacting the consumer behaviour. Through these objects, we may learn to honour and preserve humanity’s life support system which unfortunately, is taken for granted in our culture

Barbara O’Meara

BARBARA O’MEARA – is a professional visual artist with a B.A.(Hons)Degree in Fine Art Painting and a Post Graduate Higher Diploma in Community Arts Education both from the National College of Art & Design. Her community work includes various collaborative/socially engaged projects such as ‘Portraits of Pain’, N.C.A.D.’s Public Art Programme with Coolmine Rehabilitation Group at I.M.M.A, Northern Ireland’s Re-Generate Project and ADVIC Advocates for Victims of Homicide, a bereavement support charity.

Her socially engaged practice includes ‘Na Leanai’ Children of 1916-Dublin Remembers 2016 with Five Lamps Arts Festival, ‘B.O.R.N. Babies of Ravaged Nations’ 2017 at The Point Depot, a social commentary concerning the plight of women and children worldwide informed by media coverage of specific events. B.O.R.N. exhibition included audience participation with a Celtic healing ceremony where women and children from many nations were represented.

From 2017 – 2019 she designed, facilitated and curated the Tuam Baby Blanket ‘Stitched With Love’ a two year voluntary creative project where hundreds of women from Ireland and abroad hand crafted white squares to commemorate the Tuam Babies creating a baby blanket of 796 squares ‘The Covering’. In 2018 in a memorial event it was laid out over burial site at Tuam Mother & Child Institution by survivors and families during an ancient Celtic midwives ceremony. ‘The Covering’ is now exhibiting with ‘Stay With Me’ touring exhibition and in 2019 the blanket was shown at KOLO International Women’s Non Killing Cross Borders Summit in Sarajevo where women survivors of the Bosnian War held it in a healing circle. In 2019 it was also part of the Christina Buckley Centre exhibition ‘Our Living Bereavement’ highlighting institutional abuse in Ireland at both Tallaght Library and Inspire Gallery Dublin.





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