Róisín White ‘Cross the Child’s Palm with Silver’

An exhibition of new photographic and sculptural works by Róisín White as part of her residency at The Darkroom with support from DLRCoCo.

She was told not to tell anyone for three months.
She was told not to enter a graveyard or attend a funeral.
She was told that fertility was “God’s Will”.
She was told to leave red fabric out on Brigid’s Eve, to ask for her blessings of safety
and an easy labour.

She was warned not to look upon ugly people or animals.
She was warned of blemishes or birthmarks on the child.
She was warned that her new baby would be at great risk of being taken.
She was warned.

She was told to blame herself if anything went wrong.
She was told to wash her hands before she touched it.
She was told that she would be tainted, unclean, by labour.
She was told to stay in bed for nine days.

She was warned that before baptism the child will be vulnerable.
She was warned that an eclipse of the moon can cause deformities.
She was warned not to cross the path of hare.
She was warned that the child needed to be protected.

She was told to hang irons above the babies cradle.
She was told a full moon would bring on labour.
She was told that the new father must kiss his child 5 times.
She was told she needed to be churched.

She was scared it might be a Changeling.
But she was hopeful.
She was encouraged to trust the handy-woman.
She was told to trust that the iron would protect the child.
She was hopeful and she was told this will be a beautiful day.

Cross the Child’s Palm with Silver, a blessing of good fortune for the new-born child. A piece of metal stitched into the child’s baptismal garment as means for the child to protect itself from being taken by the fairies and changeling left for the mother. In Irish folk tradition there is a deep anxiety around pregnancy and childbirth, which was rooted in the many unknowns and risks associated with pregnancy in an Ireland before modern medicine. The myth and folklore that surrounds women and their offspring tends to be connected to the need to protect them from harm and essentially try and secure that they grow up to be healthy and “normal”.

In Ireland the Changeling myth is ever present in the early weeks, months, and even years of a child’s life. The fear that a mother might take her eyes off her new child for even a moment and in that time the child would be swapped for a changeling, a fairy child that looked and sounded like the real child. But soon they would notice differences, changelings tended to be sickly children, distressed and upset, often malformed and disfigured. The parents would have to try and “trick” the changeling to reveal its true nature, and if they suspected that the child was a changeling, they would often try and kill it to try and have their real child returned. Changelings were usually killed by burning or drowning. Changelings were usually male children, but adults could also be taken. Cross the Child’s Palm with Silver examines the folk tradition in Ireland from fertility and conception, to pregnancy, childbirth and the protection of young children from harm from spirits or otherworldly interference. The folklore is deep rooted in sympathetic magic, stories told and customs followed in order to protect from real risks.

Cross the Child’s Palm with Silver is an exhibition of new works by White as part of her residency at The Darkroom, a facility in the heart of Dublin to keep traditional photographic processes alive, vibrant and exciting. Analogue photographic printing relies upon silver to create the image, a process that upon seeing for the first time many describe as “magic”. This interplay between protective folklore and the magical process of darkroom printing has aided the development of the work, with silver being the protective force and magical connection between research and process.

Róisín White


Róisín White is a visual artist based in Dublin, working primarily with photography, while incorporating drawing, sculpture, and collage into her practice. Róisín holds a BA(hons) in Photography from DIT, and certificates in Ceramics and Sculpture from NCAD. Róisín White’s work draws from archival materials. She has an interest in exploring lore and the fictional narrative that can be discovered in discarded imagery, previous understandings agitated, and new meanings drawn out. Roisin’s sculptural work brings her photographic work into the three-dimensional and builds on means of photographic reception. White has exhibited her work in Ireland and across Europe, with her debut solo exhibition at The Library Project in August 2018. She was selected to represent PhotoIreland at Futures Photography platform, and was selected from an international open call to take part in Parallel European Photography Platform in 2018/9. Her project “Lay Her Down Upon Her Back” was selected for the third edition of New Irish Works in 2019. White was selected to take part in residency programmes, How To Flatten A Mountain residency at Cow House Studios in 2017, In-Between Shores residency with Ardesia Projects and JEST Gallery in Italy in June 2018, Cow House Studios in February 2019, and she is currently the artist in residence at The Darkroom in Dublin (November 2018 – April 2019). White has received funding from the Dún Laoghaire – Rathdown County Council as part of their Emerging Artist Grant scheme for 2018/9. She was selected as the recipient of the Blow Photobook programme FUSE in March 2019, and has an upcoming solo exhibition at The Darkroom on April 11 th 2019.