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
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.