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‘Painted Back to Life’ with Irish expressionist artist Brian Maguire | Events | Knowledge Hub

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Gender cluster

‘Painted Back to Life’ with Irish expressionist artist Brian Maguire

(refreshments included)
— Gender knowledge cluster and Manchester School of Art

Painted portrait of Barbara Araceli Martinez Ramos by Brian Maguire

Barbara 2010 by Brian Maguire
Acrylic on Canvas, 138cm x 100cm
Courtesy of Kerlin Gallery, Dublin

Location & introduction

Manchester School of Art
Manchester Metropolitan University

Room BZ403, Benzie Building
Higher Ormond Street

M15 6BR

‘Painted Back to Life’ was an evening with Irish expressionist artist Brian Maguire followed by a question and answer session with a panel including Francisca Sanchez Ortiz (MMU), Brian Maguire and others. Manchester Metropolitan University was delighted to be partnered with Manchester-based creative agency BJL for this event.


A review of the event is in our news archive.

Event Programme
  • Reception and registration.
  • Introduction (Dr Penny Macbeth, Head of Department of Art, Manchester School of Art).
  • Artist Brian Maguire talks about working in Mexico with the families of the feminicide victims and their campaign for justice (Juárez is an ideal place to kill a woman because you are certain to get away with it: Dillon, 1998).
  • Q & A audience debate with panel comprising Dr Kate Cook, Fionna Barber, Francisca Sánchez-Ortiz and Brian Maguire.
  • Close.
Questions and Themes
  • What are the ethical issues for artists in representing traumatic events of this nature? How does the artist’s responsibility to the families, and to victims and survivors, sit with the frequently perceived role of the artist as outside social convention?
  • What kind of visual language is most appropriate to represent such disturbing subject matter, so that viewers in turn become actively engaged?
  • If violence against women is a global problem what are the consequences for society as a whole?
  • How can we educate against gender-based violence?
  • How can we combat negative stereotypes perpetuated by the police and judiciary system – ‘The women in question deliberately put themselves at risk by having a night life, drinking with strangers and engaging in weekend prostitution to make ends meet’ and how does this relate globally (e.g. India).
  • Exploring art as memorial and redemption.

On the following day, Thursday 19 February, there was a film screening of Blood Rising (2013), a documentary directed by Mark McLoughlin examining the phenomenon of feminicide in the Mexican city of Juarez.

Artist, Brian Maguire, the Director, Mark McLoughlin and Director of Frontline Defenders, Mary Lawlor, presented a screening of the film in the European Parliament in February. This is the first step in an international human rights campaign to bring attention to the hundreds of uninvestigated murders of young woman in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Background to the artist

Born in 1951, Brian Maguire is a fiercely expressive painter. Based in Dublin and Paris, Brian’s work emerges essentially from social and political situations. He approaches painting as a gesture of solidarity, operating a truly engaged practice compelled by the raw realities of humanity’s violence against itself, and the potential for justice.

Since 2010, Brian Maguire has focused on the Mexican city of Juarez. Here he addresses the phenomenon of feminicide – the killing of women ostensibly due to their gender – by working with the families and women affected by it, and becoming embedded with crime reporters of the city’s newspaper El Norte. Of the work Maguire reflects: ‘My purpose is to show respect to the victims of violence. To remove all the easy rationalisations which excuse, cover over, and protect us from this reality. As the man is dead, the painting keeps his death in the present. The absence of justice demands this act.’

In connection with this work, Maguire recently collaborated on a documentary feature film Blood Rising, which was screened at the Curzon Cinema, London in 2014, and premiered at the closing gala of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival the previous year.

In the past Maguire has often undertaken residencies in closed institutions such as mental homes and prisons. In these situations the artist focuses on elucidating individual identity, an emphasis that has, at times, led to disrupting the status quo.

Brian Maguire held the position of Head of Fine Art at the National College of Art and Design, Dublin during 2000–2010. He is represented by the Kerlin Gallery, Dublin and has been since 1988.

The image above is a portrait of Barbara Araceli Martinez Ramos. She was 20 years old and five months pregnant on 26 December 2000 when she disappeared sometime on her way to work. Barbara lived with her mother and her own son, Armando. When Barbara disappeared Armando continued to live with his granny.

Upon his granny’s death a few years later, Armando went to live with Yvonne, Barbara’s sister. On 7 November 2001, the authorities claimed that Barbara’s body was found in the infamous ‘cotton field’ in Ciudad Juarez. However, DNA tests eventually proved the body was not Barbara’s. There has been no real investigation and no-one knows where Barbara Araceli’s body is.

For a recent article exploring his work please go to The Guardian website:

Panel speakers
Photo of Francisca Sánchez-Ortiz

Dr Francisca Sánchez-Ortiz

Francisca worked as a Teaching Fellow in Hispanic Studies at the University of Aberdeen before joining Manchester Metropolitan University in 2014 as a Lecturer for the Spanish department. Her research interests are border studies – particularly the Mexican-American border – gender violence, migrations and Latin American diasporas, and the representations of those in literature and visual culture. She is currently working on representations of the Juárez feminicides by European artists.

Photo of Kate Cook

Dr Kate Cook

Kate is an feminist, a teacher, a researcher and an author, who has an interest in: feminist theory; the law on rape; child sexual abuse; domestic homicide and in all social aspects of supporting survivors of abuse. Kate has a 24-year history of working with survivors and is active within a number of women’s groups. She was a founder member of Trafford Rape Crisis and had previously worked within Manchester Rape Crisis. She is also a member of Justice for Women, the Campaign to End Rape and Safety4Sisters, working with women who experience domestic abuse to try to ensure that they can live lives free of further violation. Kate is currently working with Independent Choices aiming to help with widening their work and funding base.

Photo of Fionna Barber

Fionna Barber

Fionna Barber is Reader in Art History at the Manchester School of Art and is the author of Art in Ireland Since 1910 (Reaktion: London, 2013).

A key focus of her current research is on the relationship between gender, traumatic memory and art practice, particularly in an Irish context, in addition to a long-standing interest in post-conflict politics of representation. In 2009, she co-curated the exhibition Archiving Place and Time: contemporary art from Northern Ireland since the Belfast Agreement shown at venues in both Britain and Northern Ireland. Fionna’s testimony is also included in the Northern Ireland Prisons Memory Archive.




(From left to right:) Fionna Barber, Francisca Sánchez-Ortiz, Brian Maguire, Penny Macbeth and Kate Cook(From left to right:) Fionna Barber, Francisca Sánchez-Ortiz, Brian Maguire, Penny Macbeth and Kate Cook

Delagtes from our event sponsors BJL along with members of the panelDelagtes from our event sponsors BJL along with members of the panel

The panel (from left to right): Kate Cook, Francisca Sánchez-Ortiz, Fionna Barber and Brian MaguireThe panel (from left to right): Kate Cook, Francisca Sánchez-Ortiz, Fionna Barber and Brian Maguire

A clip from Brian’s slides showing the photos from which Brian used for his artworksA clip from Brian’s slides showing the photos from which Brian used for his artworks

The panel (from left to right): Kate Cook, Francisca Sánchez-Ortiz, Fionna Barber and Brian MaguireThe panel (from left to right): Kate Cook, Francisca Sánchez-Ortiz, Fionna Barber and Brian Maguire

Poster for the event in the Benzie Building receptionPoster for the event in the Benzie Building reception

  • Poster (Business School)
  • Poster (Manchester School of Art)

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