The Mothership on RTE Arena

The Mothership on RTE Arena!! Seoidin O’Sullivan, Michelle Browne and Kitty Rogers will represent The Mothership Project on RTE Radio 1 arts and culture show ‘Arena’ tomorrow night, Tuesday 20th August. The show airs from 7-8pm. Tune in to hear some of the issues we have been discussing so far and the topics for future investigation. You can listen to the show on old school analogue radio or tune into the RTE Player here:

AtHomeStudios Website

AtHomeStudios Website

Following from the first themed meeting of the Mothership Project, AtHomeStudios has launch a website. AtHomeStudios is a collective of parenting artists practicing from a studio that is based in their home. It was set up as a means to forge connections between artists and provide opportunities for peer critique, collaboration and a space to share ideas. The group meets every six weeks in one of their studios. The purpose of the meetings is to build meaningful exchanges and relationships between the artists that are supportive of each artist’s practice.

Meeting 2 – Time & Money – Summary

The Mothership Project: Meeting 2 – Time and Money

Broadstone Studios, Wed 31st July, 11 am.

Attended by Ruthe Burke, Fiona Whelan, Seoidín O’Sullivan, Joanne Boyle, Naomi Sex, Helen Barry, Sarah Lincoln, Mary Fitzgerald, Michelle Browne, Gabhann Dunne, Olivia Hassett, Orla Kenny (Skype) & 6 children


The meeting was roughly divided into the headings of time money and labour. Under each heading a list of questions/topics were posed to get the conversation started. They were:


How to buy time?

How to justify time?

Studio time?

How to manage school holidays etc?

Child friendly residencies

Maternity leave

Practice v’s Kids

Art openings /networking


Artists’ fees

Getting paid on time

Family income

Crèche fees

Female artists earn 66% of what male artists earn – artists’ earnings >25,000


Invisible labour

Free labour/voluntary (time, reputational economy)

Precarious /no security

Discussion notes:

Some people commented that their work changed when they had children, their thinking changed – the question was how to keep the thread or focus of the work – how to keep it, retain it and develop the ideas.

Some said they managed their time better after having children and this was definitely a positive that came from having children.

Most often when there is an offer of money versus that studio work which is not being paid, the money work wins out.

The group discussed models of work practice

  • kibbutz style of shared or exchange labour,
  • a co operative style of living in New York was also discussed a way to buy time.
  • Anton Vidokle’s Time/Bank, a labour transfer model
  • Reggio Emilia – Artist Studio in the school presented as an alternative to artists doing workshops in schools. The takes time away from the studio work, where as the Reggio model allow a children to observe the artistic process without it taking time away from the artist making work. Other models in Ireland Aisteoir – early years learning in Ireland ,the suggestion here was to look at Aisteoir as a structure where artist can bring their own artistic practice to support the development of the creative skills of the teacher/child rather than artists delivering workshops for workshop sake.

Helen suggested that the group could lobby City/County Council Arts Offices to approach Education Centres to develop structures that engages artists in a longer term basis through evidences in schools and training in in-service training for teachers.

and Kids Own – virtual relationship with the classrooms (this called Virtually There)

Question also about how to remain intellectually stimulated while having a child, as can’t go to talks etc as often.

With regard to residencies it was suggested that studios etc be contacted and for them to make it explicit if they take families. Not always clear. The group also suggested members posting family friendly residencies they are aware of on the blog.

The location of ones studio was also seen as an important issue.

Openings – bringing children seen as difficult, time not compatible with family life, and not child friendly.

Maternity leave – feeling that taking maternity not that easy as you don’t want to disappear. It can be detrimental to your career. For some it was more about going to seminars, to get to things to be visible.

What your baby is like  – This also important. You can bring your baby to some things if your baby is good and quiet and won’t cry etc.

One of the best selling books this year,  Lean In by Cheryl Samberg

Lean In – women who educated should lean in and work harder. Written for white middle class women who can earn enough to have childcare,

Popular perceptions of parenting, points don’t translate into situation for artists –  how does this push to keep working harder operate for artists when you don’t earn enough for childcare etc?

Proportion of male artists who represented higher in gallery system –

Some artists noted that there is still the perception that after having kids that making art is a hobby for women but remains a career for men.

If you are taken out of the arena for a couple of years to rear children your prices in the gallery system stagnate for that time so that creates a disparity between men and women.

Also are galleries more inclined to support male artists who they know are not going to disappear for those years to have children and their production is not going to be effected by the increased demands of home life?

At a certain point there is the sense that many women drop off and after having children and they don’t make work anymore. It was noted that in the original first four years after college you loose 80% of art class, then in thirties a lot of women disappear off the scene because of having kids, but this not the same for male artists. You still see them at openings etc

One member noted that a male colleague said that having children didn’t affect his practice and that he continued to make work. She proposed that it was a question focus and that perhaps there was an ability to completely switch off to everything and immerse yourself in a project and develop it. Chanel and focus not affected as much for men, that getting that focus or energy or thought for a project or proposal more difficult for a woman after having a child.

Question of multitasking being necessary for women because they are the primary care givers but are women actually not good at multi-tasking, that we are not following through on all areas?

Another suggested it was more to do with when you go for a project that statistically men wait until a project is 30% developed before going for it while women wait until it is 70% developed and is it a question of confidence?

Who is doing laundry? Who is keeping the housework ticking over? Who is tending to those jobs and who is seeing those jobs?

Going to work – Mammy is gone to work. If you are in work you are in work but if you are at home and your time is more fluid you are jumping from one thing to the other, squeezing meetings in between family obligations. But when you are gone for 8 hours and not having to worrying about the family obligations that you tend to get that focus more. Not a case of it being men and women but more about time and where and when you get that time.

When living precariously even in relationships where both are artists those who can get more funding are the priority and the practice of one suffers as ultimately it is about who is bringing in the money.

Do artists include childcare in their bursary applications? Many included this in applications and it is seen as a perfect match with the idea of buying time that is included as part of the remit of the Arts Council bursary.

Do they hide the fact they are having a child? Some said that they did while others didn’t. There was a question around the fact that artists tend to have children later in life, and if you are an emerging artist are you less likely to say you have children as you haven’t built up the reputation before having children that will make you seem more likely to come back and make work after having children?

How do you deal with the gap in your CV if you do take time out? Do you put it on your CV that you took maternity leave?

Some artists noted that some artists were clever about this, exhibiting work in a number of exhibitions but perhaps not showing new work and that this fills the gap in some way.

Next meeting early September. Theme: Reputational Economy.


The Mothership Project – Next Meeting | Perception: How does Having a Child Effect the Artist within a Reputational Economy?

Perception: How does Having a Child Effect the Artist within a Reputational Economy?
Tuesday 3rd September from 1.30-3pm at Visual Artists Ireland, Central Hotel Chambers, 7/9 Dame Court, Dublin 2


The third themed meeting of The Mothership Project  will take place on Tuesday 3rd September from 1.30-3pm at Visual Artists Ireland offices,  Central Hotel Chambers, 7/9 Dame Court, Dublin 2.

The frame for this meeting relates to the perception of the mother/artist – How does having a child effect the artist within a reputational economy? Do you feel that you, your practice or your professionalism is considered differently now that you are a parent? Would you like to understand better the structures that support the art world and why parenting might impact on how you are perceived? What practical responses might be taken to respond to this?

The session will be lead by artists Naomi Sex and Fiona Whelan.
Babies and children are welcome but please confirm your and their attendance as space is limited.

To confirm your attendance please email: themothershipproject [@]

When are we going to involve men in discussions of work/life balance?

Women who take time off after childbirth, a major medical procedure, it should be noted, which necessitates some physical recovery time as well as time with a vulnerable new infant in its first months of life, too often see themselves informally demoted upon their return, or presumed to be less dedicated employees. With a less stimulating workload and an assumption that a new mom isn’t going to perform as well as she once did, of course lots of moms find themselves bored, frustrated and eventually meeting expectations by leaving. Men with children, on the other hand, are perceived as more competent and dedicated workers.