Art of Strength
‘Art of Strength’ is a cultural identity project exploring the notion of Irish womanhood by juxtaposing celebrated contemporary Irish women and Irish women of note from history.
The exhibition brings together art, history, design and photography.

Exhibiting at:

The Dean Art Studios

4th - 23rd April

The Dean Art Studios
4 Chatham Row, Dublin 2.

The Concept

the idea

“The idea for Art of Strength came about as a female pal of mine had to make a big life decision,” says Emily Quinn. “At the time, I admired her for her strength, her courage and it got me thinking of all the decisions us women have to make in life, and quite often it’s our strength that keeps us moving forward. I started to research a little bit more and learned so much about so many strong women from our past and from that I picked the ones that really resonated with me.”

the name

“I’ve always loved Irish fashion and Irish design,” adds Quinn. “My mother used to hand knit Aran jumpers for Shannon Airport so the idea of craft was always something I wanted to insert into a project and to me, my mother is a world of strength, so the project came to be. I read a beautiful and powerful poem by Eavan Boland called ‘Art of Empire’ and from that came the name Art of Strength for the project.”

the beginning

The first portrait in the series is of the late Vicky Phelan portraying suffragette Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington, with the help of make-up artist Leonard Daly and hairstylist Jenny Crawford. “A few years ago, I had the honour to photograph Vicky for the cover of her book, Overcoming. When I read it, I knew we had to have her in the project. Hanna fought for women’s rights, as did Vicky, and education was so important to both, so we decided to shoot this shot where Vicky had studied – the University of Limerick. On the day of shooting, we were told we could only shoot in one room, as exams had started; that room was the newly-built Courtroom; it all felt so apt! The books in the image were my grandfather’s – he was the assistant general secretary in the Department of Education.”

the collaborators

Very soon after, the Covid-19 lockdown happened and the project was temporarily put on hold. “We waited, I considered the project again, had another baby and then sadly, Vicky passed away in November 2022, and with a heavy heart, I knew we had to complete this project for International Women’s Day 2023.”

Emily visualised the images and picked locations and sitters but after speaking with stylist Catherine Condell, she knew this visually would be impactful with her vision and input. “Catherine has the depth and knowledge to understand the strength and power these women have and how we could bring them to a new generation of strong women. I had decided from the beginning I wanted a connection with each woman I had chosen... So each sitter was carefully considered.”

the subjects

For St Brigid, Emily chose model Aine O’Gorman. “On a car journey coming home from Kilkenny, we chatted for two hours, and Aine told me all about her climate activism, her passion for the earth and nature – it’s a passion that flows through every fibre of her being, so I knew she had to be St Brigid. I then learned she is a great-granddaughter of stained-glass artist Harry Clarke, so we chose a chapel in Belvedere College, where some of Clarke’s stained glass is on display, as he went to school there. Peter O’Brien dressed Aine, and it’s made for a very dramatic and captivating shot.”

the characters

“I wanted Anne Devlin portrayed by someone that I felt had two parts to them. We chose Felispeaks, as I felt as a poet she had a great voice in herself, but I loved that idea of Felicia being the voice of the new generation of Irish and a new powerful voice for Black and Irish. With Felicia we shot her with two Irish Wolfhounds, as Anne Devlin was buried with Wolfhounds on her grave as a sign of loyalty to Robert Emmet. We dressed her in Helen Steele, with strong green tones to represent that new Irish voice.”

Save the date!

Open 10am to 4pm from 4th - 11th March 

Launch Sunday 5th March 6-8pm @

Emily Quinn



I am a photographer based in Dublin working mostly in the Portrait Photography medium. 

I have 15 years experience shooting for a number of fashion lines in Ireland including Arnotts, Brown Thomas, Avoca, House of Fraser and Heatons as well as for numerous publications including The Irish Times, Life, The Irish Independent, Image, Irish Tatler, VIP and The Gloss.

My mother used to knit Aran jumpers for Shannon Airport so I love all things craft made in Ireland. I also love photographing people, meeting new people, getting to know them quickly on set and hoping to capture them in the best light in the short session we have. Always a joy!


Website by Mill Studios, Dublin.