What is a woman………..

March 28, 2009

Following a meeting with Lena Simic, Issue 3 of The Liverpool Art Journal asks three questions:

What is a women’s place in the home?

What is a women’s place as an Artist?

What will women become in the future?

The journal has a distruibution of 100 around key creative sites in Liverpool and whilst not being about self-promotion is a great way to contribute to critical debate in creative practice and to assimilate yourself to a growing audience of critical awareness.

Please submit creative writing, critical debate and interesting text to this stimulating journal. Unfortunately, this journal is not funded and so no payment is available.

Any queries please contact Tracey Eastham on tracey_eastham@yahoo.co.uk


February 11, 2009

(hi CH I have added your comment as a post – to make it more visible, LP )

Have finally got round to writing something here. Sorry it’s a year later than I’d hoped, but I suppose I’m a year behind you in having a baby and getting back to work. My daughter Thea is now just over one and I, too, am paying for a childminder and having to justify to myself why it’s OK that I’m not ‘At [money] Work’ today. But I feel so much better for some thought time.

Haven’t yet started making art post-baby, so these are some initial thoughts as I’m trying to rekindle my artistic practice…

I have really enjoyed my time at home with my baby. I like children and have always known that I would like to have them. However I have not found it easy to reconcile the ‘artist’ and the ‘mother’ in me, as the two all-consuming processes are often at loggerheads.

I have often photographed myself at times of change. These have generally been private photographs – though one set of photos turned into a piece of artwork – ‘Internal Reflection’ (1998). In any of my self-portraits my viewpoint is the point, the camera and myself are both visible. I am both the subject and the means of the photograph.

I also had plans for a photographs that I would take when expecting a baby. This involved photographing my expanding tummy on a regular basis and charting the disappearance of my feet. However, when it came to it, it did not feel right to go ahead in the way I had always thought I would..

My pregnancy was unplanned (though welcome) so there wasn’t a ‘before’ and ‘after’ – a point at which I could start photographing. Somehow, when it came to it, the process of being pregnant was far more organic than I had been expecting. Well, I suppose it was the difference between seeing a pregnant tummy as an object, rather than part of me.

I did take a few photographs but couldn’t impose an unnatural [daily? weekly?] rhythm on when to take them, so life went by and my tummy grew largely undocumented. This caused a ridiculous situation as I was getting ready to go into hospital – the quest to take one last photograph of my stomach became part of my temporary labour-induced madness. In moments between contractions, my focus shifted back to framing the photograph consistently with other images and how to stop the flash bouncing off my stomach, before the next wave of pain stopped me in my tracks again. In the end I gave up – I have some photographs taken that night, but I wouldn’t exhibit them! I had also planned to take some photos of my new baby and me, to complete the set. Again, life and the demands of a new baby took priority. I missed the ‘newborn’ look I had in my mind’s eye and the series remains unfinished. And, as many an artist knows, work often goes through a really cringey stage when you’re not sure what it is or whether it’s worth pursuing. That’s where it is at the moment.

I suppose what I have so far are ’sketches’. In order to be able to work further on the idea, I will have to have another baby which is a much more serious undertaking than making a finished piece of art normally demands. Also in doing so, I will have even less time to make art. Of course, I could fake it. But that’s not the point. So perhaps I am trying to make an impossible piece of art.

I suppose that’s why making art takes on a whole new dimension once a baby is in your life. How could it not change? I have found it really difficult to make art with Thea around. She was very good at being around at ‘Open Studios’ but my attempts at studio work (while she sleeps) have been so far unsuccessful. There is a need for me to find another means of expression which requires less time than I have been used to. Some thoughts to get around this include making work at home while she sleeps, making drawings and seeing how far I get before she makes me stop, featuring her in my work. All of these ideas are rife with potential cliche. But I suppose lots of ideas are, until they are made not to be.

Of course I could ignore the the fact I’ve had a baby, but it impacts on every aspect of my life – from the amount of free time I have, friends I get to see, the number of things I do, the time I go to bed, paying for childcare, what I wear….
So it’s inevitable that if I am to continue making artwork it will be changed.

As you can tell, I have been thinking about this subject for some time but this is all I can write for now. My time is nearly up with the childminder for today.

Any ideas, strategies, solutions, magic wands are welcome.

call for volunteers womens library -London

February 11, 2009

Voluntary Women to Perform, Women’s Library

Call for Women of All Ages to Backgrounds to Advocate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with Artist Monica Ross

Anniversary – An Act of Memory is a new national participatory arts initiative by artist Monica Ross.

To mark the 60th Anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Monica Ross is striving to memorise the full UDHR and to reiterate its preamble and 30 articles solo or in unison with others 60 times in meaningful situations and places throughout 2009

Ross is scheduled to perform the work in the evening of March 5th at the Women’s Library in London.

This is a call for women of all ages and backgrounds to each select and attempt to memorise one or more of the 30 articles of the Declaration in the language of their choice and to co-perform with Monica at this unique event.

The commitment required is to attend one preliminary workshop of two hours duration on Monday February 23rd from 6pm to 8pm and to be available to perform with Monica on March 5th. This is a voluntary role.

The UDHR is the world’s most translated document and can be downloaded in over 300 languages at: http://www.unhchr.ch

Anniversary – An Act of Memory is endorsed by the British Institute of Human Rights and Amnesty International and has been supported by Arts Council England and the Scottish Arts Council.

For further information please contact:
Deadline: Fri 20 Feb 2009
Link: http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/thewomenslibrary

calls for womens work………

January 23, 2009

Deadline: 9 February 2009

‘Make Do and Mend’ Women’s Work 2009
WHO: Artlink are calling for entries from female artists both regionally and nationally working in any media
WHAT: Artlink’s tenth annual Women’s Work exhibition, entitled ‘Make Do and Mend’. Artists are able to interpret this theme in any way they feel appropriate – for exact guidelines on submitting work please see our application information.
WHEN: The exhibition will be on display at the Artlink Gallery, Princes Avenue, Hull from Friday 6th March until Monday 6th April 2009.

APPLY: For further information and an application form please visit the opportunities page on our website or email Katie Gill, Gallery Development Worker. Applications are subject to a selection process and successful artists will be informed of the outcome within one week of the closing date.
CONTACT: gallery@artlink.uk.net

Deadline: 14 February 2009
Little Women! WHO: female artists.
WHAT: call to submit work for the 13th annual exhibition, celebrating International Women’s Day. Unthemed exhibition of small work.

WHEN: 7-28 March 2009. APPLY: email for details: linda_hasking@hotmail.com

mothers who are artists call

January 8, 2009

saw this and thought it might be of interest

This is an open international invitation for women visual artists who have actively renegotiated their identities as artists, mothers, women.

This call is for women at all stages of their lives and work as artists and mothers. All and any level of training accepted, entries will be judged on the strength of work presented and the strength of written statements. The purpose of this book is to highlight the creativity of creative women before, during, and after the identity changing time of motherhood.

The focus is on the realities and challenges of creating an identity outside of motherhood, integrating motherhood, and the role of our identities as artists in this process. Submissions are encouraged to be individual, creative, and idiosyncratic.

This book will feature and profile 250 women from the visual arts. Areas accepted: Ceramics (pottery/functional and sculptural); Sculpture; Painting & Drawing; Printmaking; Photography; Metals/Jewelry; Installation; Mixed Media and Intermedia.

Further information on the Mother Artists website.


250 Mother Artist
P.O. Box 2429
Universal City, TX 78148

Deadline: 30 April 2009

small article on UK law on photographing children

December 10, 2008


a short article on the 16-18 year olds image rights

count down to a babysitter

November 3, 2008

the countdown to having a babysitter/childminder has begun. So in a matter of weeks I will be paying someone so i get the freedom to work, read a book, have the occasional swim and really develop ideas and make, make, make. I have a backlog of posts and links to artists work, images and shows to post. It annoys me that it feels frivolous and indulgent to have a baby sitter, I suppose i’m annoyed by my guilt. I used to be really good at being focused and spending time alone playing with and through ideas Its funny at the point I’m explaining the process of sharing to my son – I really don’t want to.

Back soon

Women in Photography site

July 30, 2008

A new(ish) site promoting women, they showcase a photographer every other tuesday. I particularly like aspects of Sarah Sudhoffs work. Will write more soon.


Moving again

July 30, 2008

been slow, almost non existent on the web, just organising things to move countries so thats my excuse for not posting.

hopefully posting more from mid september but maybe a few bits in between.

reviews/discussion wanted on A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother

July 30, 2008

Am just about to order this book, anyone read it?

Article below, copied in entirety from http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2001/sep/09/biography.features

Rachel Cusk’s account of her maternity, A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother, is a lament that casts mothers as lost souls – and it is as compulsive as a thriller, says Kate Kellaway, Sunday September 9th 2001

A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother
Rachel Cusk
Fourth Estate £12.99, pp224

‘You’d think she was the first person in the world to have a baby,’ I once heard a mother say of another. I had a version of this ungenerous feeling about Rachel Cusk’s A Life’s Work: On Becoming a Mother. What a self-important title! I felt resistant, knowing from my own experience how treacherously easy it is to convert life into copy. Journalists were the worst: as soon as they became mothers, their children started to crawl into their writing. I was guilty of this myself. The last thing I needed was a novelist’s version of the phenomenon.

My unworthy prejudices have all been scotched. Rachel Cusk is the author of three elegant, Jamesian novels but this strange book is more readable than all of them put together. It is as compulsive as a thriller although its plot (pregnancy, birth, colic, sleepless nights) is – naturally – a shambles and its cast tiny and undistinguished (mother, father, baby, doctor, health visitor, a few friends). Its time scheme is wild – vertiginously unchronological, as if to convey the disorientation of fatigue: babies destroy all sense of conventional time.

I recognised this account of motherhood and found it foreign – because it is so unrelentingly dark. She feels like an exhausted prisoner and wonders forlornly whether the baby likes her at all. And while her witty valour never deserts her (I love her description of the baby as a ‘tetchy monarch’), there is no pretence that the book is anything other than a lament. Birth marks the loss of selfish freedom and an undivided mind.

She had a difficult time of it. Her daughter, Albertine, was born by Caesarean at eight months. This was an interrupted narrative which she imagines may have left the baby ‘with no more sense of how she came to be here than if she had been left on the doorstep by a stork’. In fact, it was Cusk, I think, who was dazed enough to imagine that a stork might be responsible for her plight.

She is not the first to write about motherhood critically. Naomi Wolf in her new book, Misconceptions, describes babies as enemies to equality; Helen Simpson, in her stories Yeah Right Get a Life, writes about the onerous romance of bringing up children. And Fiona Shaw, in her memoir Out of Me, re-lived a post-natal depression so severe that maternal instinct broke down entirely.

But Cusk is not political or clinically depressed, or making up stories. She serves her subject – and is shaken by it. I’d have laid bets that colic was a subject no one could make interesting but she describes the colicky frontline brilliantly. And, at the end of three horrendous months, she observes that to be a mother is sometimes to be no more than a vegetable witness: ‘I have been there all along and this, I suddenly and certainly know, is motherhood, this mere sufficiency, this presence.’

She knows exactly when claustrophobia may become too much – and she reaches then for the steady help of writers: Edith Wharton, Tolstoy, Olivia Manning, Coleridge. She writes beautifully about them and about herself. Words are her way of staying adult, separate, fluently mutinous. She also subjects childcare manuals – Penelope Leach, Doctor Spock et al – to satirical scrutiny; her book should be read alongside them because her writing is such an antidote to their bland, knowing prose. She writes about not knowing, about the mother as a lost soul. Hers is a book of doubts.

One of the implied doubts is about the subject itself. Being a mother and writing about it are a contradiction in terms. As a mother you are meant to be secondary, selfless – not to take, as Cusk bravely does, centre stage. Her partner spots the nice irony, joking to friends that they are moving to the country where he will look after the children while Rachel writes a book about looking after the children.

Cusk emerges as someone for whom resistance is second nature. She dislikes groups and yet pines for a community of feeling. A friend tells her ‘quite firmly’ that she must not forget ‘all the good things’ about being a mother. I felt ‘the good thing’ we missed was the baby herself. Cusk protectively under-exposes her. She is at the heart of the book and outside it.

She describes the book as a letter to women ‘in the hope that they find some companionship in my experience’. No mother could fail to be interested and moved. Most will recognise themselves in some ways. But many could reply with a different tale and some with a love story.