A Tribute To The Irish Community Butte Montana 1916-1919 is both biographical and autobiographical. It revolves around memory, narrative and family history told to Amanda Jane Graham by her Grandmother of her own childhood memories. Graham uses personal history and combines it with humour to create quirky and humorous characters and scenes. As a child, Graham was intrigued by stories of her Grandmother’s childhood in Butte Montana at the start of the twentieth century and how it was to be an Irish- American whose family was very involved in the Fenian movement. At the age of three, Graham’s Grandmother unknowingly smuggled money into Ireland, hidden in her dolls pram, to aid the 1916 rising.
The ever-growing curiosity and voracious appetite for narrative demanded the incessant retelling of these stories. Even with the passing of time these memories are embellished and gilded in Graham’s Grandmother’s mind and she is able to retrieve them with the most exquisite detail. Graham can visualise her Grandmother as a child, enjoying cowboy shootouts or enduring the over crowding in cars as the community travelled vast distances to hear DeValera at rallies. She can still sense her Grandmother’s apprehension when she recalls the stories of the mine bell ringing, as her Grandmother witnessed the worst mining disaster in American history.
This reminiscence has instilled in Graham’s mind the importance of oral history and the tradition of storytelling from one generation to another. Without the continuation of this talent, much of our history will be lost.
Amanda Jane Grahams’ practice is a trajectory of self- reflection, personal narrative and memoirs. This involves using memories of people, moments and incidents to create vastly sensitive, seductive and humorous fantasies that can be macabre and disturbing at the same time. The work changes what once might have been negatives into positives and the title plays an important role as it directs the viewer into the thought processes at the time of making the work.
The handmade process is essential to Graham’s practice. The traditional mediums of print, drawing and textiles are key to generating the visual representation that penetrates the unconscious memory of the observer, creating unconscious and organic emotive reactions. Personal memory, humour and traditional mediums are tactics that engineer collective sentiment, recollections and nostalgia. Emotive recall devises alliances and relationships between the private and collective memories of artist and audience.
Graham completed a BA in Fine Art at the Institute of Technology, Sligo in 2009 and an MA in Fine Art at National College of Art and Design, Dublin in 2011. She has exhibited both nationally and internationally. Most recently, her exhibition Warrior’s One in Three was invited to be part of the 18th International Psycho Oncology Congress 2016 at the Aviva Stadium, where she presented a paper as part of Psycho Oncology and the Arts. Her work has featured in many publications including The Irish Times and she has been the recipient of numerous awards and commissions.