Created by artist and mother Lenka Clayton an Artist Residency in Motherhood is a self-directed, open source artist residency to empower and inspire artists who are also mothers.
'An Artist Residency in Motherhood is the reframing of parenthood as a valuable site for creative practice, rather than an obstruction to be overcome'
I have unofficially been engaged in an Artist Residency in Motherhood since the birth of my first son in November 2014, creating work alongside being a full-time parent. June 2016 will see me officially start an Artist Residency in Motherhood as I continue to parent my first son and prepare for the birth of my second, as I traverse new ground as a single parent after losing my husband earlier this year. See work in development below.
For more information on artist Lenka Clayton and the residency: http://www.lenkaclayton.com,
LETTER TO THE MOTHER WHO IS PRESENT. LETTER TO THE ARTIST WHO IS ABSENT.
It all began with letters; initially writing to myself and then writing to other Artist - Mothers. An exploration of identity, visibility, ideas of presence / absence and the question of how the hell I was going to do both. Early motherhood can be quite isolating, the letters were a way to connect and as a new Mother, the mailbox was accessible. The writing grappled with questions around the roles of artist and mother and I reached out to other, Mother - Artists to form a sense of community and gather varied perspectives from Mothers who were practicing artists.
A lucky accident I was fortunate enough to observe and capture, this piece interrogates the fragile and shifting identity of the artist / mother. While trying to steal some time to work I did not initially notice that my son had torn down an older piece of work, which explored the artist image. He proceeded to tear, play and destroy the image under my feet while I captured what was unfolding. His exploration and the resulting photographs speak of my experience of early motherhood and the often confronting ground of my artist / mother identity. The images were created in my home which at the time was my domain and doubled as my work space. The piece is ultimately a collaboration with my son, who deserves full credit on its creation, in more ways than one.
TOMBSTONES: A collection of days
Inspired by a conversation with another mother exploring the notion that her son’s resistance to sleep was a raging against the end of the day; as if, with no concept or understanding of tomorrow, the end of each day was like a death. This resonated on such a level with my own experience, that I began to make a small tombstone to mark the death of each day; a day my son and I would never experience again. The marking of another day passing encapsulates relief, sadness, joy, longing, achievement, time. The work also addresses my shifting practice as I navigate continuing my work while raising a small person. I now must work within the parameters of fragmented time. The creation of a single tombstone each night as my son sleeps is small yet achievable; my collection however is growing large, as is the embrace of my role as the mother. The tombstones are imperfect; their ugliness and imperfections beautiful, as is my experience of early motherhood.
There is the initial event, the initial crisis and then there are the aftershocks. Continuous and lingering they infiltrate and ultimately shape your life and who you are. The ripples, no matter how slight, no matter how subtle, never completely dissipate. There is always movement, there are always shifts. Yes, they are living and yes we live with them, everyday, sometimes every moment. These are some of the aftershocks and ripples of becoming a mother. How I live with them is the work which I wake to everyday.
THE NEVER-ENDING EXCRUCIATING TASK OF THE ARTIST STATEMENT
I have always had a difficult relationship with the artist statement; writing and talking about my work. I want the work to speak for itself. I don't want language to limit the possibilities of how the work functions, is received or understood. At times, dialogue and writing surrounding work can definitely extend the work, and even be the work, but how that occurs, is offered and received is important and changes with each piece. Upon becoming a mother everything in my life was questioned critically with new eyes, including my art practice. The ever-increasing funding cuts and competitive nature of applying for and receiving support to create work sees artists having to justify their work in more and more demanding ways, ways which often distract from the work, not to mention the time dedicated to such tasks. The Never-Ending Excruciating Task of the Artist Statement aims to make light of this and offers an alternative to the dry and rigid structures typically placed on artists. The compendium is on-going and will continue to shift as my practice does, hence it is never-ending.
ME VS. GOOGLE
The image of the Mother is one which has been explored in various ways in art and culture and continues to shift socially, politically and culturally. My experience of becoming a Mother does not often correlate with the images present in current popular culture, so I began capturing my own. The photos of myself were taken at various points in the first six weeks after giving birth, they sit alongside the top Google image results for New Mother.