Our Publication: The Mothership Project Satellite Findings

Since 2018 The Mothership Project have undertaken research into the lives of parenting artists. A survey was carried out with over 140 respondents from across the country and highlighted the difficulty of maintaining an art career as a parent in Ireland.

*****Find downloadable soft copy here*****

Mothership Project: SATELLITE FINDINGS 

A new publication with the findings of the survey and residency, with recommendations for arts organisation to better support and be inclusive of artist with children, was launched on the 16th of May.  The publication features a essay by eminent researcher Dr. Eileen Drew looking at the context of parenting in Ireland in which this survey fits. The Publication will be launched by feminist activist and academic Ailbhe Smyth, with a keynote lecture from Prof. Kathleen Lynch on Love Labour and its impact on carers, particularly women. The survey and its key findings were developed and analysed by Professor Helen Kara.

MShip - Cover

The Mothership Project is a network of parenting artists in Ireland. The Mothership Project aims to support parenting artists in the development of their practice and to encourage arts organisations to make the art world a more inclusive place for artists with children. The Mothership Project wants to see societal and institutional change for parents in the art world. Being a parent can be challenging at the best of times, but with precarious circumstances and incomes, and uncertain futures parenting artists can be doubly challenged within a society that is lacking many supports for those with children.

The Satellite Residency is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and Wexford County Council Arts Office, and is supported by Visual, Carlow and Wexford Arts Centre. The Mothership Project is currently managed collectively by 4 artists Leah Hillard, Michelle Browne, Seoidín O’Sullivan, Tara Kennedy

Contact: themothershipproject@gmail.comor  www.themothershipproject.wordpress.com

FB:@themothershipproject TW:@ArtMothership

One Year on – Take The Mothership Covid Questionnaire

DSC_8084

Dear Parenting Artists and friends

It is one year since The Mothership Project launched its publication Satellite Findings that presented the results from our parenting artist survey and parenting artist residency in collaboration with Cow House Studios. As parenting artists we have keenly felt the challenges that the current coronavirus crisis has presented, particularly in relation to practice and childcare. 

Following on from our past parenting artist survey, we ask that you take part in The Mothership Covid Questionnaire to help us to take the temperature of what it is currently like for practicing artists with children. The Arts Council’s recent survey into the current conditions for artists asked no questions around the particular challenges faced by artists with children. We hope that this questionnaire will in some way fill that gap. 

You can find it here – https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GJRQ8NH

It is a short questionnaire of 10 questions and should take between 4 -10 minutes to complete depending on how much you would like to share with us. All information will be gathered anonymously and we hope to share our findings with the wider community to make visible the particular challenges faced by parenting artists today. 

The survey closes on May 18th (when other things start to open up a bit more!)

Thanks and solidarity,

The Mothership Project

Making Support Structures: Who Gets to Speak? Sarah Lincoln’s article discussing The Mothership Project Satellite findings for The Visual Artists News Sheet July -August 2019

trypich

WRITER DONNA HARAWAY is exasperated with the limits of criticism. She is frustrated that our most sophisticated thinkers and critics expend their energy developing more and more nuanced ways of describing the seemingly hopeless societal and ecological binds in which we find ourselves. The challenge, according to Haraway, is to apply the force of our thought to proposing creative and inclusive solutions to these problems.1

We are indebted to The Mothership Project – a collective of parenting artists based in Ire- land, founded in 2013 – for stretching to meet a provocation like this with energy and action. In May, The Mothership Project launched their report, Satellite Findings, in which 145 parenting artists responded to a range of questions about their professional lives while parenting. Of the respondents, 92% were mothers, with 80% feeling that parental responsibilities were having a negative impact on their arts practice.

Professor Eileen Drew (Director of Trinity Centre for Gender Equality and Leadership at Trinity College Dublin) contributes an import- ant essay to this report, in which she highlights broader societal realities around parenting in Ireland. In Dublin, the average cost of full-time childcare is currently €1,047 per month for each child, while the average salary is approximately €3,800 per month. The survey outlines how parenting artists have responded to these financial pressures by undertaking this caregiving themselves. The snapshot captured by this survey describes how this task is largely being undertaken by mothers, with 42% of those surveyed spending 10 hours or less a week working on their artistic practice. What emerges through the survey is the harsh impact upon artists who parent, as well as the frustration being felt at this broad correlation of parenting with a ‘silencing’ of one’s professional life. As one respondent states: “the unwritten rule for being a successful artist is ‘don’t have kids’”.

The Mothership Project is explicit in its aims: it seeks “societal and institutional change” to make space for the voices of parenting artists. Drew’s essay sketches out practical solutions to some of these pressures, while being mindful that these changes can only find traction through political support. She identifies a few areas of progressive and achievable change, noting that while parental leave in Ireland is generous in terms of duration, it is underpaid; she cites Nordic models, which means-test childcare costs.

Some of the recommendations emerging from Satellite Findings include the suggestion that arts organisations do more to check who might be excluded from engaging with their programmes, due to a range of factors, including practical ones, such as the time of day at which activities occur – art openings typically happen at children’s tea time or bed time. There is also a call to child-proof professional offers such as residencies. Has enough lead-in time been given to parenting artists to either organise childcare, or perhaps provide family-friendly supports within these offers? Are funding bodies genuinely supporting parenting artists by accepting budgets which include childcare costs within them?

 

There are multiple quotes in the report from parenting artists who describe, in negative terms, their understanding of their sector’s perception of them as a parenting artist: “you weren’t taken seriously as an artist if you were a mother too”. In a sense this issue of perception is the most insidious current running through the report. It indicates a type of embarrassment at not being able to unhook oneself from lived experience; it implies that ‘real life’ experiences – like caring – are too inappropriately personal to call into visibility within a professionalised art world. Surely one of the beautiful potentials of the art space is that it can hold within it the true messiness of life – that we can bring our biographies with us? That the unruly and awkward can be held, in the belief that these qualities contain within them the potential to generate new forms and, in so doing, enrich our creative spaces.

I remember an evening last November at the Cow House Studios, where I was lucky enough to be taking part in ‘Satellite Residency’, organised by The Mothership Project.2 There was wildness in the air. We were giddy, knowing that we were part of a new shape taking form and we were drinking in the excitement that this created. I was arranging images at the kitchen table, while having a conversation with Alla about women-friendly workwear. Ruth was operating a power tool in a shed across the courtyard, while Ruby and Linda were sketching out their studio rhythms to each other. Food was being prepared in an adjoining space and between all of these activities, our children were being minded. Our children, part of this project, were feeding it and being fed by it. I remember pausing for a moment and enjoying the unashamed eccentricity of the scene: thinking (hoping) that the support structures which had formed around us, through this residency, could somehow become part of the future for parenting artists in Ireland.

Sarah Lincoln is an artist living in West Waterford.

Notes

1 Donna Haraway in the documentary lm, Donna Haraway: Storytelling for earthly survival (2016), directed by Fabrizio Terranova.
2 ‘Satellite Residency’ was a pilot residency for 15 parenting artists at Cow House Studios, Wexford, which was rolled-out over Autumn / Winter 2018. The residency included the payment of a small stipend. Accommodation, childcare and meals were provided onsite. The artists taking part in the residency were: Dorota Borowa, Stephen Dunne, Niamh Davis, Sarah Lincoln, Ruth Lyons, Ciara McMahon, Susan Montgomery, Celina Muldoon, Niamh O’Doherty, Sally O’Dowd, James O’hAodha, Una Quigley, Linda Quinlan, Ruby Wallis and Kate Warner.

This article was first Published in the July-August 2019 edition of Visual Artists News Sheet.
Link to the original printed version.

The Launch of The Mothership Project Satellite Findings (May 16, 2019, The Lab, Dublin)

Over the last ten years, academics and artists have focused increasing attention on the intersections of ‘artmaking’ and ‘mothering’ as is evident by a growing number of international conferences, publications, artist collectives and residencies that, amongst other things, attempt to render visible the precarious balance between the two different forms of labour. Furthermore, it confirms, as Rachel Epp Buller notes in Reconciling Art and Mothering (2012): “Many contemporary artist-mothers are no longer willing to hide their maternal status.”(5). It was with this in mind that I attended the launch of The Mothership Project Satellite Findings (May 16, 2019, The Lab, Dublin), a publication that marks the culmination of six years of efforts by a collective of artists, the majority of whom are mothers, to make the art world a more inclusive place for parents. 

 

Mothership Project

The Mothership Crew Michelle Browne, Tara Kennedy, baby Kim, Seoidín O’Sullivan and Leah Hillard at the Launch of The Satellite Findings.

Speaking at the launch, artists Michelle Browne and Leah Hilliard, on behalf of The Mothership Project, discussed the genesis of the network which began as a series of meet-ups organised by and for parents who came together in solidarity to discuss the challenges they faced: finding time for artistic practice, the relative isolation of artists who are primary carers, the high cost of childcare and the relative economic instability of parenting artists. For the organisers of the project, it was important to conduct a survey that moved beyond personal observations and anecdotes into concrete empirical findings that translate into structural changes to enable parenting artists to fully participate in their creative communities.  

In August 2018, The Mothership Project conducted a survey via Survey Monkey, designed in conjunction with researcher Dr Helen Kara. It aimed to provide insight into four main issues: Time, Space, Money and Care. Of the 145 respondents, 92% were mothers, 68% had two or more children and 58% were between ages 36-45. A significant number of parents reported working between the hours of 9am– 12 pm and 12pm -3pm, coinciding with children’s school attendance. 70% reported working between the hours of 9pm – 12am, after children’s bedtime. This gives insight into the necessity of adapting to children’s schedules and suggests that between the two forms of labour, artists are most likely working long hours. It also demonstrates that time spent on art work is extremely precious. The majority of respondents (70%) create their work from inside the home. The statistics that 89% reported making art cost them money and 76% turned down opportunities due to lack of childcare makes for stark reading. However, the survey recommends six positive changes that will better benefit parenting artists. [https://themothershipproject.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/mship-final-to-print-1.pdf] The publication includes an essay by Prof Eileen Drew (TCD) that further digests these findings, examining them againstthe shifting work culture in Ireland. Drew argues that policy-makers and funding bodies need to focus attention on changes that will facilitate a better work-life balance for these artists. 

The initial survey findings were fed into the development of Satellite Residency at Cow House Studios (Wexford). The residency was funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and Wexford County Council Arts Office, and received support from Visual, Carlow and Wexford Arts Centre. RosieO’Gorman of Cow House Studios spoke briefly about the residencies and how they supported the participating artists. In October-November 2018, fifteen selected artists, some families in tow, though others attended solo, were given valuable uninterrupted time and space for their creative practices. They availed of studio space, onsite childcare, flexible scheduling and the luxury of a shared meal without having to cook or clean up afterwards. The analysis of the exit survey included in the publication confirms the benefits to participants. 

Prof Kathleen Lynch (UCD) discussed ‘love labour’ and economies of care underscoring the need to re-evaluate how love and care work is viewed within the context of a neo-liberalism. She argued that love, care and solidarity are key equality issues for women. As a concept ‘love labour’ resonates with both artmaking and raising children, both provide an immeasurable benefit to our society that we cannot do without. Afterwards, Dr Declan Long (NCAD) chaired an open discussion on the survey findings and Prof Lynch’s talk. From the audience, an artist highlighted the importance of acknowledging practices that expand and contract (in terms of the range, production, scale and output) depending on the demands of one’s parental duties. They called for the art community toreassess the value placed on these practices. There was discussion about the naming of the ‘Mothership’ and this elaborated on how artists grappled with the shifting identities of ‘artist’ and ‘mother’ and ‘parent’. At this point a father who participated in the Satellite Residency reiterated the necessity of continuing to politicise the term ‘mother’ in the context of artmaking.

Ultimately, The Mothership Project Satellite Findings makes a welcome and timelyintervention into the status of parenting artists in Ireland. It provides valuable insight into the different, often times, invisible barriers that parenting artists face. This publication holds the potential to improve the lives of parenting artists and, in doing so, further enrich our creative communities. What remains to be seen is how soon before these recommendations are widely implemented. 

Dr Kate Antosik-Parsons 

Researcher, L’Internationale

National College of Art and Design

http://www.kateap.com

Get Together 2019: Visual Artists Cafe

0-9

The Mothership Project will be at Visual Artist Get Together on Friday 14th June. the venue is TU, Grangegorman (formally DIT) from 10am.  Come along and meet us and get a copy of our recent publication.

Since 2018 The Mothership Project have undertaken research into the lives of parenting artists. A survey was carried out with over 140 respondents from across the country and highlighted the difficulty of maintaining an art career as a parent in Ireland. A new publication with the findings of the survey and residency, with recommendations for arts organisation to better support and be inclusive of artist with children, was  launched on the 16th of May.

“This year’s Get Together takes its theme from the belief that we, as artists, must always have the right to experiment. As a verb, a noun and an imperative, ‘Experiment’ poses a challenge for us to re-examine ourselves and our work through different eyes. We all experiment, try things out, fail, succeed or change through experimentation; perhaps we may even realise that the place we find ourselves in fits just fine. Looking at our own artistic career, we can observe many occasions when we have experimented, either with new concepts, materials or modes of working. Whether we find historical context, new artistic intention, or simple convergence with likeminded artists, one thing is very clear: experimentation is at the core of what we do. Through listening and discovering how fellow artists find ways to include experimentation in their working methods, we can gain the confidence to make time, to try things out, and to look at our ongoing work through a different lens.

As well as Panel Discussions, Artists Speak and Speed Curating return to this year’s Get Together, as will the ever-popular Specialist Clinics, where recognised experts will be available to discuss a wide range of issues on a one-to-one basis. All of this will surround the Visual Artists Café, where Arts Organisations and Artist’s Support Agencies will gather to provide information about their services, while catching up with friends old and new. Follow the link of the right for full details of the programme.”

 

SATELLITE FINDINGS : Publication Launch, 16th May 2019.

Since 2018 The Mothership Project have undertaken research into the lives of parenting artists. A survey was carried out with over 140 respondents from across the country and highlighted the difficulty of maintaining an art career as a parent in Ireland.

*****Find downloadable soft copy here*****

Mothership Project: SATELLITE FINDINGS 

A new publication with the findings of the survey and residency, with recommendations for arts organisation to better support and be inclusive of artist with children, will be launched on the 16th of May. The publication features a essay by eminent researcher Dr. Eileen Drew looking at the context of parenting in Ireland in which this survey fits. The Publication will be launched by feminist activist and academic Ailbhe Smyth, with a keynote lecture from Prof. Kathleen Lynch on Love Labour and its impact on carers, particularly women.

MShip - Cover

The Mothership Project is a network of parenting artists in Ireland. The Mothership Project aims to support parenting artists in the development of their practice and to encourage arts organisations to make the art world a more inclusive place for artists with children. The Mothership Project wants to see societal and institutional change for parents in the art world. Being a parent can be challenging at the best of times, but with precarious circumstances and incomes, and uncertain futures parenting artists can be doubly challenged within a society that is lacking many supports for those with children.

The Satellite Residency is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and Wexford County Council Arts Office, and is supported by Visual, Carlow and Wexford Arts Centre. The Mothership Project is currently managed collectively by 4 artists Leah Hillard, Michelle Browne, Seoidín O’Sullivan, Tara Kennedy

Contact: themothershipproject@gmail.com or  www.themothershipproject.wordpress.com

FB:@themothershipproject TW:@ArtMothership

The Mothership Project Satellite Residency – Artist Talk

 

The Mothership & Cow House Studios will host a talk on Saturday 24th November from 2pm – 4.30 pm at Wexford Arts centre as part of the Satellite Residency.

This autumn The Mothership Project in collaboration with Cow House Studios are running a pilot artist residency programme giving 15 parenting artists supported time and space to develop their practice, including childcare and accommodation on-site for children and partners.

Michelle Browne and Leah Hillard of The Mothership, Celina Muldoon, participating Artist and Rosie O’Gorman of Cow House studios will discuss the Satellite residency in the context of being a parenting artist in Ireland. This residency aims to generate institutional change in how artists are supported throughout their careers and changing family circumstances, as well as contributing to the debate on affordable childcare, precarious work and attitudes to care work.

This residency programme for parenting artists highlights the difficulty of maintaining an art career as a parent in Ireland. The Satellite Residency is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and Wexford County Council Arts Office, and is supported by Visual, Carlow and Wexford Arts Centre.

ABOUT THE MOTHERSHIP PROJECT

The Mothership Project is a network of parenting artists in Ireland. The Mothership Project aims to support parenting artists in the development of their practice and to encourage arts organisations to make the art world a more inclusive place for artists with children. Since 2013, The Mothership Project has hosted workshops and discussions on issues facing parenting artists in Ireland. As part of the residencies, The Mothership Project will conduct research into the experience of parenting artists in Ireland that will be used to produce a publication that highlights the needs of parenting artists in Ireland in early 2019.

About Cow House Studios:

Cow House Studios have run residency programmes since 2008 in rural Co. Wexford. The studios are designed for flexibility of use, with 4 individual spaces, and a shared open studio floor for larger group projects and alternative working methods. The studio also offers a darkroom, computer lab and lounge, with access to tools and digital equipment. For more details on Cow House Studios see https://cowhousestudios.com/

For more information see the https://themothershipproject.wordpress.com/

Contact: themothershipproject@gmail.com