Mother in the Mother (2012 – 2015)

“A woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have, the egg that formed you was once an egg inside your mother when she was just a foetus inside your grandmother”

This was a giant, three-year project. Begun (possibly not sensibly!) the year my second daughter was born. The project had deep roots, growing out of earlier research into family life, and the role of the matriarch, within the community of Knowle West. It was also rooted in my personal family history and in a longstanding fasciation with maternal lineage that had crystalised moments after giving birth to my first daughter.

The project began on Mother’s Day 2012 with four mothers around a kitchen table eating traditional simnel cake and enjoying a refreshingly frank discussion of motherhood. It developed into a three year, participatory arts project exploring the theme of maternal lineage, and culminated with a public exhibition opened on Mother’s Day 2015 attended by over 70 women and children, with local and national press coverage:

Woman’s hour.
BBC News Online
Bristol 24/7

Within its three year lifespan the project worked with over 200 mothers, gathering their stories at events and workshops, and turning these into written pieces, photography, digital stories and handmade books. Discussions at workshops covered some of the more challenging aspects of motherhood including post-natal depression, miscarriage, estrangement and non-attachment, and I took these themes as inspiration for a series of figurative sculptures.

“The group allowed us the space to voice things that had previously been unspoken. It was powerful stuff!”

“It gave me the sense that my journey is not alone but is unique. An inspiration to actively connect and share more with other women.”

“This was valuable, emotional, well structured, inspiring, interesting, an empowering one off.” 

 

  • My mum Judy

  • Janey

  • Mirage

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Read the Stories

Turn that shit to Gold #057

I had always dreamed of having children……well, daughters. However having worked with children, I was in no hurry to get started. By the time my husband and I agreed to try for a family I was 36 years old. We struggled to conceive and it put a huge strain on…

Women of Strength #062

I never expected to be a mother. I just never imagined myself as one, so when I discovered I was pregnant it was a surprise entry onto a path I’d not thought about walking. I had never been around babies as an only child with very little contact with extended…

A Mother Reborn #046

My transition into motherhood was very emotional. I felt quite isolated and stressed. I was 18 years old and had little support. Her birth was very difficult as were my other two with my sons. I suffered with postnatal depression but during my recovery I found my identity as a…

Roots to grow, and wings to fly #056

When I found out I was pregnant with Rosie It was the second time I had been pregnant….. I was shocked, it was unplanned – the dad and I weren’t together at the time due to his controlling and jealous nature. Would it work – could I be mother to…

Out of the Box #058

I became a mother at what felt like the 11th hour. I was forty and hadn’t been with my partner for that long when we conceived. Before I met said partner I’d truly faced up to the idea of having no child. I’d done some grieving, some rejoicing (for the…

Survival #32

My experience of becoming a mother has completely and utterly changed my life. I struggled for so many years with severe depression, suicidal thoughts and feelings and self -destructive behaviour. I had many years of abuse from my mother and various relationships and I experienced numerous sexual assaults whilst under…

A Different Path #59

I found I was pregnant at 19 unexpectedly. I was in a bad relationship with a man 16 years my senior. I had no family around me to speak of and a handful of friends. I was depressed throughout the pregnancy, and the birth was a long drawn out exhausting…

Submit Your Story

Prompts: Did you have clear expectations beforehand? What was your conception experience, did you go through IVF? How were your pregnancy/s and birth/s. If you adopted, fostered or became a step mum what was your transition to motherhood like? How were the first weeks and months, did you feel supported? Did your sense of identity change? What have been some of the greatest challenges and rewards of being a mother?
Prompts: Was your biological mother present or absent in your life? Did you have other maternal figures - relatives, foster parents, adoptive parents, friends? Describe your mother as you experienced her as a child. Do you remember her physicality, her closeness to or distance from you, her style of parenting, the way she showed love, the way she disciplined you? Were there any times you were particularly close or in conflict. Did your relationship change as you became a teenager or in relation to other life events?
Prompts: Did your relationship change when you had children of your own? What do you think now about the way you were mothered? Do you feel the way you were mothered has affected the way you mother your children? Are there things you do consciously or unconsciously that are either different or similar to the way you were brought up? What is your mother’s relationship with your children? If you are a grandmother, how does your relationship with your grandchildren differ from that with your own children? Describe its particular joys and challenges.
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