Painting by Elva Mulchrone

Eudaimonia dreaming by Elva Mulchrone

Exhibition runs from Thursday, March 23rd - Friday, April 14th 2023 (16:00)
Location: Block D, DCU St. Patrick's campus. Access via the entrance beside Cregan Library, off Drumcondra Road. 
Open: 10am - 5pm

Eudaimonia dreaming represents a body of work on paper, wood, canvas and linen developed by Elva Mulchrone during her time at DCU as Visual Artist in Residence 2022/23. It is an aesthetic response primarily to the work of Dr Maeve O’Brien from DCU School of Human Development, and also influenced by the work of Dr Mathias Urban from DCU School of Language, Literacy & Early Childhood Education. Dr O’Brien's research on educational experience and mappings in educational care from a feminist perspective and her spatial metaphor representing women voices on their invisible care work inspired Mulchrone to reflect on mappings and systems of inequality. (1) Dr Urban’s research on policy related to diversity, equality, and social justice in education also informed her abstractions.

The title Eudaimonia dreaming is inspired by the Aristotelian Greek word, Eudaimonia which does not have a direct translation but is considered the state or condition of ‘good spirit’, and which is commonly described as ‘flourishing’ or ‘well-being’. Aristotle, in the Nicomachean Ethics held that eudaimonia was the goal or telos of human life. Mulchrone’s pieces, broken and disjointed, featuring obstructed mapping allude to both personal narratives and those of children who face social immobility and inequality from multiple perspectives. The aesthetic asks are we part of a societal system where despite educators best efforts and solid research, there is confusion, where reality feels fragmented, structures disconnected. Studies and paintings explore her responses, a  juxtaposition of innate optimism and belief, and the uncertainty of how it feels to live simultaneously outside and between the lines, the mapping, unsure of the prescribed path, and the prescription.

Bridget Riley, an important influence, declared “an artist needs to express something about the fact of being alive”  Like Riley, Mulchrone hopes the viewer is drawn to the artworks which exist as an abstraction in what has been called “the uncharted territory of visual response”. (2)

References: (1) O’Brien, M. (2009). The impact of economic, social, cultural and emotional capital on mothers’ love and care work in education. In Affective Equality (pp. 158-179). Palgrave Macmillan, London.
(2) Morley, Bridget Riley, p.562


A Metaphor for Inequalities in the performance of mothers’ care work and Inequalities of
capitals to care by Dr Maeve O'Brien

Drawing on feminist theories of caring and the debates around the significance of care for
human flourishing/wellbeing, this research explored mothers’ experiences of caring and
doing educational care work for their children as they moved from primary to second-level
schooling. The findings of the qualitative data, the women’s voices and reflections on their
invisible care work are represented here as a spatial metaphor. The spatial metaphor
represents how women’s care can be performed and is produced relative to economic, social,
cultural and emotional resources.

The findings on mothers’ caring and the reality of performing emotional care in education
involves two sets of equality problems. There is firstly a gender equality problem that is
associated with women’s traditional performance of care work and its relation to what we
call their emotional capital. While ‘parental involvement’ is commonly used as a term, in a
taken for granted fashion, this research indicates it is principally mothers’ involvement and
their emotional energies and efforts that support their children’s education and wellbeing at
this transition time. Secondly, the data suggest, and this is the point of this visual and spatial
representation, there is a problem of inequalities and differences between women
themselves, in their capacities to access the material, social and cultural resources to activate
and support their emotional capital for care. The greater the potential capitals accessed by
mothers, visually, the greater the area occupied in social space on the graphic.

At the end of the day, those mothers’ with greater economic, social and cultural resources
can fulfil what they see as ‘the moral imperative’ to do intensive emotional work around their
children’s education. Those with less resources struggled more to activate their emotional
capital and their care work had a very high personal price. All of the mothers in this study
expressed some sense of being torn between care and a desire for ‘a life of one’s own’. Most
mothers had knowledge that they had needs beyond caring, needs that were often impossible
to realise under the current gender order and women’s traditional association with emotional


Elva Mulchrone in front of two of her paintings


Elva Mulchrone, is an alumnus of Trinity College Dublin, Economics and NCAD, Fine Art (Painting). In 2022, she received an MA in painting at the Royal College of Art (RCA) London. Mulchrone presented solo shows Res Ipsa Loquitur (Gibbons & Nicholas) and Building Blocks at the Blyth Gallery, Imperial College London (2020), and Irrational Exuberance with Eight Gallery (2018). Most recently, her work has been exhibited as part of invited group shows including; The Pleasure Ground in  Rathfarnham Castle (2022), the RCA Graduate Show, London (2022), The Distance Between, Hockney Gallery, London (2020), and Art on Paper, NYC (2019), also selected for open exhibitions including; the 192nd RHA Annual Exhibition 2022, the 191st RHA Annual Exhibition (2021), Highlanes Gallery Open Submission (2020), The Future is Clean and Round (2 person show) Gallery 126 (2020). Her work has been exhibited widely including at The Model, Sligo, Rua Red, The Luan Gallery, Municipal Gallery DLR Lexicon, The Bourn Vincent Gallery, Limerick, Udk, Berlin, Institut Fur Alles Mogliche and Gallery Jordan Seydoux, Berlin and CONTEXT art miami, Florida. Mulchrone has secured numerous awards including; The Mainie Jellett Travel Bursary, The Thomas Dammann Junior Memorial Trust Award, the DLR County Council Emerging Artist Bursary and an Agility Award from the Arts Council in 2021. She was a Fulbright Scholar finalist for 2022. Currently Visual Artist in Residence 2022/23 at DCU, her work is in many significant corporate and private collections including the OPW, TCD and DCU collections.