The Model


Palle Nielsen and activists from Aktion Samtal, The Model. The Model for a Qualitative Society, 1968. Moderna Museet, Stockholm

Click to access lars_bang_larsen_eng.pdf


Minutes from Meeting held on 3 September 2013: Perception of Mother/Artist

mothership perception 1Perception of mother/artist: How does having a child effect the artist within a reputational economy?

Tues 3rd September 2013 from 1.30-3pm at Visual Artists Ireland, Central Hotel Chambers, Dublin 2



The frame for this meeting relates to the perception of the mother/artist – How does having a child affect 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.

In attendance:
Lynda Devanney, Carissa Farrell, Sandy Kennedy, Cora Cummins, Naomi Sex, Tessa Giblin, Mary Fitzgerald, Jason Oakley, Sheena Barrett, Michelle Browne, Carolann Courtney, Elaine Leader, Orla Whelan, Niamh O’ Donnell, Fiona Whelan and Niamh Looney and 5 children.

Fiona set the context for the meeting. Many themes had emerged from the initial mothership meeting and Fiona had felt this was the one that most personally connected to her. Because of the subject matter of Naomi’s recent PHD, Fiona had invited her to give an input on her understandings of the reputation based economy of the arts to act as a frame for the subsequent discussion. Naomi gave an edited presentation related to her PHD. Some key points:

• While Richard Whitley coined the phrase ‘reputational economy’ within a scientific frame.

• Naomi outlined the recent professionalism attached to the arts and the constant act of presenting ones-self through cv, website, etc communicating publicly who you are associating with, what you are doing and where. She referenced this also as an ‘attention seeking economy’.

• Naomi referenced Hans Abbing’s description of the art world as made up of many smaller worlds where cultural assembly and cultural superiority and inferiority occurs. Power emerges, dominant voices emerge and have social value for example generally those trained in art educational institutions are the ones who say what art is.

• Naomi described the unique relationship to money in the art world which is different to other economies. Money is often hidden and conversations around payment are often the last to happen.

• Originality and distinctiveness are seen as very important to the context of art making as is the collective regard for the artist, what is being said about them and visibility is also still of primary importance in this economy.

• The growth of the Post-Graduate arena brings a new language, a research and academic language dominant. Naomi sites Dan Fox’s analysis of artists’ press releases as repetitive with aggressive undertones and over use of key phrases, urging a move to other forms of non academic writing.

Fiona invited each person in the room to introduce themselves and say something relating their personal experience to the context of the meeting or the presentation. Many themes emerged and were then discussed:

mothership perception 2


• Working for low financial return is a high risk move, start out by giving all, only a few rewarded (or not – does it ever pay off?)

• Working extra hard having just had a baby to prove yourself.

• You can become invisible when you have a child in your hand, assumptions you are still on maternity leave, or not making work.

• The age and personality of the child impacts on what’s possible.

• Guilt as mother/artist.

• As a curator, you are being perceived and a perceiver of artists. Being a mother and artist is not seen negatively by some curators.

• Some collectors won’t buy work from female artists pregnant/ with children because they feel they may stop making art and value will decrease.

• We are not in our twenties, average age much older having children. Labour state, artists can’t have kids until their 30s.

• Societal gender issue, childcare is female issue.


• Openings are of key importance for staying connected.

• Attending seminars and talks also of importance for staying connected to the discourse and to your peers.

• Professional visibility is a construct – easy to slip off the radar.

• Reduced opportunities for peer critique, exchange and organic opportunities to develop.

• Returning to formal education can be a way back in after a child is born.

• Shallowness of art world, branding game, leads to disillusionment.

• Value of documentation, don’t need an audience for some work, just good documentation.



• How many successful women artists are there who have children? Many successful female artists have none.

• Some female artists chose not to come to Mothership meetings, there is a self-consciousness around how you are perceived, they don’t want to be seen as ‘whingey mums’.

• What you present of yourself, different in different contexts

• Can we be leaders – can this be a movement? Hide from it or present it, be visible with our children.

• Gender/parenting statistics would be useful.

• Isn’t it a justifiable whinge – coming from a place of anger?

• Why is the time now for these conversations? Is this a third wave of feminism?

• There are a lot of people interested in this theme now, is there a critical mass having children, can The Mothership Project exploit that?

• When you have an issue in this economy, this is what you do – form a group, voice the concern. The Mothership Project is that.

• Bringing children to openings, in the public eye – there is a leadership responsibility in that. Sacrifice some of your own comfort to be a leader.

• We must normalize the view of artists with children

• Many in the room are also educators in arts educational institutions. How to teach students how the art world works, balance between exposing shallowness and teaching skills to survive, importance of openings, networks.

Practical suggestions:

• Connect to Women’s Art Group (WAG) – Group of Irish artists formed in the 70s/80s – explore their motivations then and what’s changed.

• Develop a site for international studio swaps to include houses with studios. Could the international studio at the Red Stables be used as part of an exchange as it can accommodate children? Campaign to other residencies like Tyrone Guthrie that children be welcomed and catered for certain times each year.

• Flash mob – pick an opening and everyone bring their children.

• As part of college visits to group studios, include some home studios too to show alternative sites for art making to students.

• Request an adjoining room, facilities for conferences etc. (like children’s room in some churches)

• VAI include some extra questions in their next survey to gain a greater insight into some of these issues.

• Jason will write for the Visual Artists newssheet about this meeting. Another column may also become a possibility.

Next meeting:

• Seoidin o’ Sullivan to host a meeting relating to alternative approaches to child care for artists. A suggestion that this be part of Workers Café in Temple Bar at the end of October.

• Others encouraged to propose other themes, workshops, discussions.

Trade School Dublin


Trade School Dublin is a non-traditional learning community that runs on barter. Anyone can teach something they are skilled at, or passionate about in exchange for things they need. To attend a class, bring one of the barter items that your teacher requests.

Forest School

Forest School Level 3 Training, Co. Wicklow
18th – 22nd November 2013 and 1st – 4th April 2014
(With assessments, training will be completed by June 2014)
Book before September 30th, 2013

“Nature has unlimited potential to educate and nurture” – participant 2011
“I would highly recommend undertaking this training. It will thoroughly equip you to take groups of children to the woods, the forest, the duck pond, the beach or the meadow” – teacher 2012

What is Forest School?
“Forest School is an inspirational process, that offers ALL learners regular opportunities to achieve, develop confidence and self-esteem, through hands-on learning experiences in a woodland or natural environment with trees.” Forest School Association

Forest School level 3 certification is for environmental educators, school teachers, group leaders, outdoor education centres and those interested in a qualification in delivering forest school experiences in Ireland.

Forest Schools are based on outdoor schools in Scandinavia, where children play and learn in nature. When children learn outdoors they develop in lots of ways simultaneously and the learning they do is very secure and beneficial. There is so much evidence to show how minds, bodies and hearts are all exercised at once. See this video about Forest School level 3 qualification from Circle of Life Rediscovery, one of the providers of this training.
You can see a feature about place-based nature education in Ireland on RTE’s Nationwide earlier this year and an Irish Times article about an existing Forest School in Ireland.

This training is:
· Level 3 certified through the Open College Network.
· an internationally recognised qualification and quality standard.
· underpinned by our philosophy and nature connection values.
· set in the wider context of ecological education, bush-craft and nature connection.
· combines personal, environmental and cultural understanding within a dynamic of holistic development.
· suitable for working with all ages.
· run by highly trained and experienced staff.

This qualification is being taught by Forest School training providers in the UK, Circle of Life Rediscovery and Huathe, hence the fees are paid in British Pound’s. If you prefer you can pay in instalments, which are:
· £200 deposit by 30th Sept
· £300 more by Oct 18th
· £500 by December 18th

Please note: To complete the certification you must have up-to-date Wilderness First Aid training and be Garda/CRB vetted by April 2014. We can get a group discount for First Aid training for those who need it. If you require accommodation during the training, Knockree Hostel is perfect and where some of the training will take place.

Next steps if you would like take part in this training:
· Contact Ciara Hinksman 086 3199515 / for a booking form.
· Hold your place by paying a £200 deposit by Sept 30th,an invoice will be sent once we have assessed the booking form.
· Please share this email.

This is the first Southern Irish FS training and we can have maximum twenty people in this first cohort, with a minimum of eighteen people to run it, so please share with those you know who would benefit from this qualification

Little Moo-Moos is a purpose-built playschool on Skephubble Farm

Catherine set up Little Moo-Moos with her husband Rory – that’s Farmer Rory to the children – in the autumn of 1999 simply because she wanted to spend more time with children.

” We were living in a rural area – on a dairy farm – and there were no childcare services in the vicinity. A lot of my friends’ children had no idea about farm life but were interested in it so we decided we would incorporate it into pre-school learning,” she explains.

Free Range Learning in Dublin

Free Range Learning Meetup for September Information!

Date and time: Mon Sep 30 11am to 1pm
Location: The Exchange, Temple Bar
Lead this month: Joanne Byrne…

Free Range Learning in Dublin


What it is: a loose network of parents in Dublin who are interested in “unschooling” as a precursor, complement or alternative to formal education.  For those not familiar with the term, there’s a lovely piece here that discusses what it means:


What we do:

  • Share useful websites or resources that we’ve found or created.
  • Meet in small local groups for activities and play.
  • Organise ourselves to book into interesting places as a group, to avail of discounts and opportunities that might not be available to individual families.
  • Meet regularly in a larger group to help parents and children forge links with each other and to offer fun and interesting learning opportunities to the children (and adults!). See Free Range Learning Meets doc for more info on these larger meets.


Who it’s for: if you’re a parent, and you’re interested in unschooling, it’s for you!  In general kids of any age are welcome to come to meetups as the idea is about building a sustainable community.  The only exception would be if there were some kind of age restrictions imposed by a place we’ve booked into.


How to get in contact: at the moment, we’re working from the Facebook group Free Range Kids in Dublin  We’re also looking into setting up a Twitter account and maybe a simple website but for now, Facebook is where you’ll find out what’s going on.


PROJECT WILD THING is an ambitious, feature-length documentary that takes a funny and revealing look at a complex issue, the increasingly disparate connection between children and nature.

Film-maker David Bond believes we have a problem. We are raising a generation of children who don’t play outside any more. Time spent playing outdoors is down 50% in just one generation.

But David Bond has a solution. And it began with a film. Project Wild Thing premièred at the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival in June, 2013 and starts a nationwide run in PictureHouse cinemas in the autumn. So begins a tour of the UK talking to academics, branding experts, parents and children to understand how we can reconnect with nature.

Earlyarts –

Earlyarts is the award winning, national network for people working creatively with children and families in the arts, cultural and early years sectors.

Earlyarts members help children have the best start in life by exploring creative approaches to learning, thinking and doing. We help connect the people, ideas, resources and information that nurture young children’s creative and cultural capital.

We believe in…

  • Children as purposeful, powerful, inspiring and intelligent human beings in their own right.
  • The importance of nurturing children’s innate creative potential from birth.
  • The transformational ways in which cultural opportunities and creative environments can help children develop.
  • The power of collaborative working to spark off ideas that bring children’s learning to life.
  • Empowering professionals to have confidence in their own creative leadership skills.
  • The important role of families in supporting children’s play.
  • The importance of rigor, research and quality in all creative practice.
  • Our collective and individual responsibility to do everything we can to help children become confident, expressive, well balanced and happy.