My second day at the mother House was the fifth day of its existence.
I had the chance to speak to Dyana and Amy (the creators and organisers) about the first week and they were amazed by the different feel each day brought. Each day there was a different dynamic of artists, different disciplines and a different mix of children to accompany them.
Through this first week some artists had found a way to work, either in their usual form or in a new way. Performance, illustration, music, dance, photography, film and lots of conversations had been taking place.
For me Motherhouse is an installation curated by Dyana and Amy and then by the mother artists who are taking part. It is an installation exploring not only a new model of childcare, or a new model of working for parents, but an installation that is providing a live exploration of motherhood and artists, of children and art and of a new way of working (one that we could argue is not new for the generations of parent artists who have worked from home but that had always been private.)
I wanted to ask about other artists views on the project being women only. And I had the chance to hear from a couple of people. One important comment that I received was that women with children often put themselves at the bottom of the list within areas of work and family. For this reason it is vitally important “that this is a space where women make up the full list”.
I will consider this further throughout the month but what did come out of the conversations I have had is that this project needs to be talked about in the wider art world. It cannot be a project solely for mother’s, women and feminist artists. These are the people who know about the need for the models of working to change, so know about the issues faced.
The wider art world still encompasses far more men than women, as artists, curators, gallery owners etc even though more women make up the numbers of graduates. Becoming a parent still affects women far more than men in work. (For References see below).
Exploring this in Motherhouse is not only an innovative way to trial a childcare (which benefits ALL parents) but it also provides a unique installation that raises questions around politics, social attitudes, economics, gender divides, class divides and so much more.
As an artist it is a unique opportunity to respond to and with the project. To be a part of this installation. This visit I took with me my tin can telephones (regular readers will know about my plans with these communication techniques), and my buckets (see ‘Conversations in a bucket’s post). I knew that the telephones could work for me in several ways. For the children and for the adults they instigate action and play, they also instigate conversations. I observed their use and used them as a conversational tool too. I also took with me a collection of magazines that my own mother had given me. They were ‘home’ and ‘lifestyle’ magazines, aimed at women and full of stereotypes. I chose to begin to decorate my buckets with snippets from these magazines. Each visit to the project I will take along a magazine or newspaper from that day and use language within the magazines relating to gender stereotypes (of all kinds) to plaster the buckets. My aim? To consider this language and talk about it. Perhaps it will inspire a performance? Perhaps it will become sculptural.
Whilst in the Motherhouse on this day Dyana wanted to try and explore her body and the space with dance. After watching her initially I remembered back to some work I had been trying earlier in the year, with translation (blind translations). I had been looking for a way to explore translation in a more physical way. So I asked her if she would dance for me to translate into BSL (British Sign language).
It was a very spontaneous occurance without any discussion or real consideration of placement, so as an interpreter this first piece has many issues for me (style, linguistics and positioning to start with!)…. But it began a conversation.
If possible we will develop this work and perhaps make several pieces over the month as I feel it has the capacity to connect or draw out issues of motherhood, translation, space and body. It is also integrating the private dance and my personal interpretation of this into the public sphere of performance. I’m excited to see where this takes our conversations!
September 15, 2016