Layering Methodologies

As a visual artist working and living in the North of Ireland – but not originally from here - I wanted to connect with a genealogy of feminist practices that came before me through layers of archival fragments and in-person conversations with those involved women artist advocacy groups on the island of Ireland. Layering these experiences – implementing a layering methodology - allow me to embrace different perspectives to the research, while reflecting the sense of collectively, intersectionality and solidarity of the feminist project and its practical outcome in feminist-led organising. The method of layering mimics the DIY collages that can be found on independent, self-published zines and counterculture publications, a style which has been defined as ‘Graphic Feminism’ (Connolly and O’Toole, 2005), which often mixes images and texts, paper cuts from magazines and newspaper, drawing vignettes and handwritten elements. It is a process that allows a flat hierarchy of information, where each material is equally important, and instigating comparison with the other components. Layering is applied both to my theory and artistic practice as the overarching methodology of the research. It considers the research as a figuration of multiple, ‘semi-transparent’ layers of significance constantly in interaction with each other, influencing and informing each other. This approach is supported by the anti-hierarchical and collaborative-led topic of the research. Visually, this modus operandi allows to read simultaneously multiple layers – even if they are juxtaposed. Theoretically, this methodology implies an anti-hierarchical, intersectional feminist-led, experiential-driven approach, allowing me to embrace different perspectives to the research, giving them equal importance and agency while underlining the many different voices of the feminist scholarship.


I embrace Rosi Braidotti theory of nomadic subject as the active first-person that is conducting this research; as Braidotti puts is: “the nomadism I defend as a theoretical version is also an existential condition for me, translated into a style of thinking” (Braidotti, 1994). The ‘existential condition’ – as described by Braidotti - reflects in my own personal experience as a white, Southern European, non-native-English-speaker, able-bodied, cis-woman, living in a foreign county. This experience inevitably informs and shapes the research, while the ‘style of thinking’ is the medium that will allow me to navigate between different layers of feminism, feminist genealogies and herstories with a fluid, transdisciplinary approach - embracing several forms of subjectivities and adopting a mobile collocation for multiple voices, embodied feminists across time and places. Layering as the methodology of the nomadic subject is the tool I choose to reflect as much as possible the layers of complexity of the feminist experience, and the sense of collectively and solidarity that inform this research; a feminist project that is international, intergenerational, intersectional, and inclusive. I have identified different feminist figurations through the analysis of the case studies and interviews, expanding the scholarship of contemporary feminist genealogy. These are: Feminist Figuration and Diffraction (Haraway, 2004), the Nomadic Subject (Braidotti, 1994), Polyglot feminism (Braidotti, 1994), Experiential knowledge ~ body thinking (Wesselig, 2016), Non-Knowledge (Cotter, 2019), Authority of experience (Milan’s Women Bookshop Collective in Martinis Roe, 2018), I-am-the-archive (Zaituna Kala, in Cotter, 2019) and affidamento ~ entrustement (Milan’s Women Bookshop Collective in Martinis Roe, 2018).


The figurations adopted deeply informs the interrelation with the interviewees, with which I developed a relationship of affidamento ~ entrustment– a methodology borrowed from the Milan’s Women Bookshop Collective and analysed in Alex Martinis Roe’s publication To Become Two (2018). I was in conversation with the artists collaborators via email and Zoom calls, before the interviews took place. I shared key written questions, and I asked artists to expand on the topic they felt more appropriate, depending on their level of involvement in the different women-artist-led groups, while tailoring the discussion based on their personal experience. This resulted in each interview being very different from one another, with extensive sections on each interviewees personal history and their lived experience which includes their journey towards art making, the influence of feminist scholarship, activism, and self-organising in their life. Many artists were familiar with consciousness raising methods, even though they might have not been directly involved in such groups, but they all recognise the value of vocalising their unique individual experience as women and/or queer women artists from the island of Ireland, as political act in a patriarchal world. During the interviews, the conversation was given priority to the experiential body thinking knowledge of the interviewees, and the authority of their experience. In this process, I choose to highlight the interviewees’ voices over mine – the researcher - giving them ownership over their own herstory. This is a key aspect of the interviews’ design and the research, especially taking into consideration that for most of the interviewees this was the first opportunity to discuss and reflect upon their contribution to the case studies - the Irish Women Artists Group, the Northern Irish Women Artists Group and the Women Artists Action Group. I also asked the participants to share personal archival materials that they deemed relevant with the research, as a complementary element of our transcribed conversations, as well as tools to guide the discussion and help to reconstruct a timeline of events. This was another essential contribution to knowledge since many of these materials are unpublished and not available in public archives on the topic. At the same time, is not meant to be a comprehensive collection, but a series of collective traces and testimonies, presented without an order of relevance or chronological, that I have been collecting “from the perspective of what interests me and not necessary because of its relevance to any particular historical or contemporary discourse” (Kala, in Cotter, 2019). In this instance, ‘We – the researcher and artists collaborators – are going to become the Archive’, an in-process, non-comprehensive, anti-hierarchical, collective imperfect body of materials connected with our personal experience. Selected archival materials are now available to browse and explore in the home page/Images.


The result of the collaboration with the artists participating in the research is a series of first-person, unique contributions to knowledge, now widely available on this web platform for further research, fulfilling the main objective of this project: platforming and publicly disseminating the ‘missing voices’ from the Irish/Irish diaspora feminist’s experience in their own terms, along with a complementary, rich collection of personal archival materials.

Please note that given the scarce - if non-existent - literature available on the subject, most of the information on this research relay on oral herstories and the ephemera generosly archived and shared by the research collaborators. While my research methodology embrace personal experience as a valid feminist-informed tool to narrate underrepresented herstories, it is imporant to acknowledge that some minor inaccurencies in listing dates, events and people, might occurrs.



Braidotti, Rosi, Nomadic Subjects, Columbia University Press, New York 1994

Connolly, Linda, O’Toole, Tina, Documenting Irish Feminisms: The second wave, The Woodfield Press, Dublin 2005

Cotter, Lucy, Reclaiming Artistic Research, Hatje Cantz Verlag, Berlin 2019

Euridice Zaituna Kala in conversation with Lucy Cotter, in Cotter, 2019

Haraway, Donna, the Haraway Reader, Routledge, New York London 2004

Martinis Roe, Alex, To become two, Archive Books, Berlin 2018

Wesselig Janneke, Of Sponge, Stone and the Intertwinement with the Here and Now, A methodology of Artistic Research, Valiz, Amsterdam 2016