Sheena Graham-George MFA

Job Title:

PhD Research Student


School of Fine Art



Sheena's work
as related to her PhD

Sheena's work


Sheena Graham-George

The Irish Cillini of the South West of Ireland.
Supervisor: Gina Wall

Cilliní are the unbaptised infant burial grounds that lie scattered throughout Ireland. Dating from post medieval times to the 1960s their existence was primarily due to the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin which forbade burial of certain classes of individuals in consecrated ground including; un-baptised, stillborn and miscarried babies, disenfranchised adults such as strangers, shipwrecked sailors, suicides and sometimes famine victims, women who died in childbirth, murder victims and those with learning disability and difficulties.

The legacy of the cilliní, has over the generations cast a long shadow across the lives of many Irish families whose children and family members lie buried in these plots. My research is interested in exploring the ways that visual art might communicate universal loss and compassion while becoming an integral part of the healing process; whether poison can be turned into medicine and utilize the negative religious dogma responsible for the cilliní and associated cultural superstition and folklore to create a new sanctity that elevates the cilliní infants and their families into the realm of humanism.

Due to a variety of factors a large proportion of cillini are to be found in County Kerry. My area of research focuses upon ten sites in total, located on the Dingle, Iveragh and Beara Peninsulas and the Great Blasket Island. Over the course of five fieldwork trips all ten sites have now been visited and documented.

My practice involves working with a combination of sound and ceramics to explore the cyclical nature of time and memory as they intertwine; to uncover and reveal the spectral in the landscape, to locate and make manifest the unseen, the forgotten, the absent which are at the heart of the physical and cultural landscape of the cilliní.

Exhibitions of The Cillíni Project

2016 Lullaby for Adults –
An Lab, Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Voices from the Cillín - Ledbury Poetry Festival
2015 Voices from the Cillín –
An Lab, Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Tech Amergin, Waterville, Co. Kerry, Ireland
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Skye
The Orkney Museum, Orkney
2014 Daisies – Vale of Tears
Custom House Studios, Westport, Ireland
2011 Lullaby
The Orkney Museum