The Mothership Project is a network of parenting artists in Ireland. We aim 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 has hosted workshops and discussions on issues facing parenting artists in Ireland. We have also hosted show & tell events and reading groups around the theoretical underpinnings of this equality and solidarity based project.

The Mothership Project is currently managed collectively by four artists : Leah Hillard, Michelle Browne, Seoidín O’Sullivan  and Tara Kennedy. They organise and administer the workings of the network. There are many artist parents who have contributed to this project and The Mothership exists through the collective effort and generosity of the many creative minds and caring bodies that have willed it into being.

The Mothership Project have presented as part of The Workers Cafe in 2013, VAI’s annual get Together 2014 and have led an Open Space Technology meeting at Roscommon Arts Centre in 2015 and as part of “My Brilliant Friend” in 2016 at Temple Bar Gallery and Studios. The Mothership have also hosted meetings in Limerick City Gallery, Visual Carlow, IMMA, Project Arts Centre and others.

The Mothership engaged in the architectural research project “Permanently Temporary” with Tara Kennedy to explore the experience of architecture in shared, cultural and co-working spaces for parents with young children, questioning how the design of these places might better support radical and active citizenship, flexible working practices and exchange of ideas, and therefore contribute to more socially diverse and inclusive living.



History of The Mothership Project

In April 2013, artist Seoidin O’ Sullivan sent an email to a few other female artists she knew asking if they had experienced similar issues to her as a mother and artist. There was an immediate response from her friends who in turn suggested other artists who might also be interested and within 3 weeks there was a group of over 20 female artists and arts workers exchanging views, ideas and links in relation to the subject of being an artist and parent. On the 20th May the first meeting of 5 of these artists was held in Michelle Browne’s studio in IMMA. Michelle Browne, Orla Whelan, Helen Barry, Seoidin O’ Sullivan & Fiona Whelan engaged in a two-hour discussion while two toddlers Rhian and Cleo played. Many of the themes that had arisen in emails were discussed. There were 3 types of issues named: Some of the issues named related to being an artist in general, some seemed specific to being an artist and a parent, some from the point of view of female artist parent. These included:

  • Perception as an artist when a mother
  • Part-time vs full-time working partner
  • Studio issues – visibility
  • Time
  • Precarity
  • Quality of work
  • Patriarchal art Institutions
  • Gallery openings and children
  • Male artist parents
  • Motherhood vs parenthood.
  • How as women and women with children we challenge the things we are talking about?
  • What actions can we take? What is the potential within this group?

After much discussion we agreed to host 4 further sessions, each with a  specific focus:

Session 1: Orla Whelan – Studio – ‘ Network of professionals working out side a group studio structure’

Session 2: Helen Barry: Time and Money: Precarity and getting paid.

Session 3: Fiona Whelan : Perception of mother/artist: How does having a child effect the artist within a reputational economy?

Session 4: Seoidin O’Sullivan Support network and Creche: Can we create alternatives? Informal group for meeting up and going to galleries and sharing information.





9 Replies to “About”

  1. Hi I have just come across your site on mothers as artists. I would love to know more. I am a mother and artist based in Dublin. Are these next host sessions open to other artists? I would love to be involved.

  2. If you would like to get involved or join the upcoming sessions please email themothershipproject [@] gmail [.] com

  3. Hi there,

    We have a session on this during the Get Together 2013 in NCAD on Friday, June 28th. Have a look at the programme and check the Enemies of Good Art session.


  4. Hi there, as a mother and artist, I too would be very interested in being involved (although I’m not in Dublin and so I’m not sure how practical that would be…) I blog at http://www.thenest.ie, about all sorts of things, a general mishmash of life 🙂 Great idea, great blog here really interesting articles posted! Looking forward to hearing more!

  5. Hello, I am an Austrian artist-mother and I would like to know if you have international meetings? My son is 5 and since he was a baby he travelled with me to Slovakia, Spain, Mexico, Peru, France etc. for writing and photographic projects. The residencies where never childfriendly and I had to arrange with everything. It was hard but it was worth it. I would like to share my experiences or encourage other artist-mothers to work and travel with children. Mexico was very easy with child, I could take him to exhibitions, festivals, conferences, theatre productions etc. He was always welcome and I felt whole, as mother and artist, not seperated anymore.

    1. HI Bernadette,
      Thanks for your message. We don’t have any plans to host international meetings at present. We are a small group of people who organise and at present we do not have funding for our activities. It would be great to hear about your experience of doing international residencies. I know that many on the mailing list would be interested. If you wanted to write about it we could host an article on the blog. Would you be interested in doing that? Unfortunately we would not be able to pay for this. I can include your email on the mailing list so you hear about our activities. You should also check out mothervoices.org a website that looks at similar issues. They held a conference in June and many of the talks are on the site.
      Best wishes,
      The Mothership.

  6. Hi Gillian Kenny Shinnors here, I was at the Summer Meeting and discussed with Michelle the possibility of setting up a regional branch of Mothership in Limeick. We have regular use of a space at Limerick City Gallery supported by curator Una Mc Carthy. We are currently a group of Visual Artists and an Architect. I would like to make contact with Tara Kennedy to get more infor on her recent research also. Let me know how to proceed.

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