The Mothership Project Spring Gathering 2017, 11 am – 1pm 11th April Visual, Carlow

THe LozziwurmThe Lozziwurm, Yvan Pestalozzi, VISUAL Carlow 2017. Photo: Ros Kavanagh

To coincide with the exhibition The Playground Project at Visual, Carlow, The Mothership Project will host a gathering of parenting artists and arts workers living in the Kilkenny/Carlow region. The Mothership Project is a network of parenting artists and arts workers that addresses the particular needs of those with children working in the visual arts. The Spring Gathering will create the space for people to come together to discuss the current situation for parents working in the visual arts and to identify ways to move forward with The Mothership Project network.

The Mothership would specifically like to invite those working in the Kilkenny/Carlow/Wexford/Waterford region to discuss the experience for those in the region (however those from around the country are encouraged to attend too). We will discuss how parenting artists and arts workers might foster greater support and facilities for those with children within the region. If you are a parenting artist or arts worker YOU ARE the Mothership Project. Join in the conversation to see how the established institutions and existing art structures and facilities might better serve your needs!

The meeting will take place on the 11th of April between 11 am and 1pm. As always children are welcome and it is a great opportunity for them to engage with the exhibition. A 1 hour workshop will be facilitate for children of preschool age (4+). All are welcome and feel free to invite others who have not previously been part of Mothership events. Please RSVP to with your name, and the age of your child/children so we can prepare for the number who will attend.

The Mothership Project is a network of parenting artists and arts workers, founded in 2013. For more about The Mothership Project go to our about page

TMP Planning Meeting – Saturday 14 June at The LAB

unnamed-1Venue: The LAB, Foley St. Dublin 1
Date: Saturday 14 June 2014
Time: 10.00am – 2.00pm

Following the VAI Get Together at IMMA, The Mothership Project invites you to a special event to plan actions to address the issues that we face as artist-parents.

Those present at the Mothership talk at the VAI Get Together outlined a number of key issues that they felt were important to them as artist-parents.  This event in the LAB is an opportunity to tackle those issues outlined, and to create real constructive plans together through a fun, child-friendly and stimulating event.  So if there is something that you feel passionate about in relation to being an artist-parent, this is your chance to tackle it!  Come along and you will garner the mutual support and direction you need to harness our collective energies towards projects that matter to you.

We will do this through a self-organizational facilitation technique called ‘Open Space Technology’.  A member of Mothership, Áine Ivers, will facilitate.


Lots of food!
We will have a buffet–style food table available for the whole event – so please bring along food and drink to stock the table.

Bring the children!
This event will be open to children to participate in if they wish (if they are old enough and have and interest!)  The space will also have provision for children to play, be comfortable, to sleep and to eat, and we hope to have children’s entertainment present for some of the event.  So please don’t leave your kids at home – bring them, they are very welcome!

We need to know numbers of adults and children so please RSVP by 11th June. Email:

Commit to the event.
Open Space Technology is an immersive process that has a beginning, middle and an end.  Please make every effort to arrive on time and to stay for as long as you can.  You will find it a rewarding experience.

(To find out more about Open Space Technology, go to:





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 [@]

Time and Money Meeting # 2, Broadstone Studios, Harcourt Tce, Dublin 2, 31 July 2013.

The second meeting of The Mothership Project will take part on the 31st of July at 11am at Broadstone Studios. The theme of the meeting is Time and Money. All are welcome to contribute to a conversation about the precarious working conditions and pay for visual artists and how this impacts on family life and vice versa. The meeting will be lead by Michelle Browne and Seoidín O’Sullivan.

For further information contact themothershipproject [at] gmail . com

Studio at Home Meeting # 1, Drimnagh, June 2013.


– a group of parenting visual artists working from individual home studios in Dublin.


The first Studio at Home meeting took place in Orla Whelan’s Studio, Drimnagh, Dublin in June 2013. Orla Whelan, Vera Klute, Sandy Kennedy, Kitty Rogers, Janine Davidson and Joanne Boyle attended along with toddlers Lara, Theo and Pia.

Orla reiterated her proposal to establish a collective of artists/parents working from home studios. She suggested that this idea could be one of many initiatives that arise from the overall Mothership Project.

We discussed the many advantages of working from home; convenience, cost, being more productive, private and more connected to daily life. We also discussed the disadvantages of working from home; isolation, lack of peer critique, lack of social and networking opportunities, invisibility.

We discussed the advantages of setting up a collective studio group and some potential outcomes which may evolve from this project. Possibilities include to….

  • Meet in each other’s studios and discus each other’s work and offer critique.
  • Invite curators for studio visits (possibly hosted in one of our studios)
  • Develop projects based on possible shared interests/connections in our work.
  • Apply for funding for specific projects and administrative costs.
  • Develop exhibitions
  • Hold a symposium
  • Advocate for access via podcast etc. to events we can’t attend eg. talks.

After much discussion, we decided to form a collective called: AtHomeStudios – a group of parenting visual artists working from individual home studios in Dublin.

We decided to meet every 6 weeks in one of our studios, starting in September 2013. Each member would bring work to the meeting to receive advice and share ideas.

We decided to that it would be more beneficial to keep the numbers relatively low (maybe 12 people maximum) to allow for a more meaningful exchanges and relationships to develop, and to keep studio visits/peer critiques to a manageable size. We decided that any artists interested in joining the group would be invited to attend the next meeting in September (and depending on the level of interest we could establish criteria to join, eg. Primary occupation visual artist, working from studio at home, parent, based in Dublin area..)

We agreed our next steps were:

  • Vera will set up a wordpress website and upload an image of each persons studio and individual website link. An email address for inquiries linked to the website will be redirected to Orla’s personal email.
  • Orla will write up the information for the website, to be circulated to the other five first.
  • Kitty/Vera will look at ways for individuals to upload to website and to share work privately online for feedback amongst ourselves.

AtHomeStudios website will be available soon. For further information in the mean time contact Orla at orlawhelan [at]

Studio at Home Meeting Update

The first themed meeting: Studio at Home will take place at 10 am on Wed 26th June in Orla Whelan’s studio in Drimnagh. Please RSVP to orlawhelan[at] or email themothershipproject[at] and the address and directions will be sent to you.

Studio at Home Meeting

Themed meeting # 1: Studio at Home

To form a virtual group studios of sorts..- a network of professional visual artists working from home or outside of a group studios situation. To form a named collective that could have a web presence and participate in events such as Visit (not sure how exactly!)

Studio at Home
A practical solution for many artists facing childcare and studio costs has been to work from home. In my case this was done initially to maximise studio time while looking after very young children.  Now that my two children are of school going age, working from home is a choice I have made which suits my studio practice. I am fortunate to have a dedicated studio in my home (a private room with good light , space and heat) at no extra cost. However there are some downsides to this situation:


There is less visibility for my work and practice.
There are less social and networking opportunities than offered to members of group studios.


There is a perception that being a parent and an artist working from home is less professional, that you are a ‘Sunday painter’ who makes work in her spare time at the kitchen table!


To increase visibility and exposure,  increase social and networking opportunities, to increase awareness off different artists practices, to present a positive aspect of  working from home as a professional artist.


If you are interested in this subject  and would like to discuss the possibilities of this or any other initiative relating to the Studio, please come along to a meeting.

Ideas to be discussed at meeting:

  • Establish if there is a demand for /interest in this Idea.
  • If so, what would be the ideal size of collective?(how many artists).
  • What would it be called.. eg AtHome Studios.
  • Would there be an individual cost/fee? To establish website etc.
  • Could administration be funded? Dublin city council/ Arts council Grant etc?
  • Other ideas/proposals…

The meeting will take place at my studio in Drimnagh, Dublin 12 (5 mins from luas stop, 20 min cycle from town, bus).

Proposed dates for meeting: Môn 24th, Tue 25th or Wed 26th June 2013.
Proposed times for meeting :10am, 2pm or 8pm.

If you would like to attend please click onto the doodle calendar here to select your preferred time or contact me at (by Friday 14th June) we will try to go with what suits most people.