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. [] 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

The Arts in Education Charter – Thoughts?

ARTS IN EDUCATION1Back in June 2013 posted some in depth responses to the ambitious Arts in Education Charter –

The charter can be read here:

The charter was launched 4 Jan 2013 by the Department of  Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and the Dept Education and Skills – and as yet hasn’t been implemented.

The Charter sets out many laudable aims and actions, that are perhaps of special interest to art-worker parents, whom might (but not necessarily) have greater concern that others about the place of the arts within the state administration of education and child development and care services.

A number of the responses gathered by mention the work of Reggio Emilia, in relation to teaching young children – which has been previously cited here on the Mothership Project website.

Item 1 of the charter, might raise some eyebrows – the Public Service Education Dividend (PSED), which is a stipulation that artist and art institutions in receipt of public funding donate a small amount of time to education initiatives).

What do art-worker parents – who might work for organisations or as individuals be occasionally in receipt of public monies – think about this call to volunteer a little of their time and expertise?

Mildreds Lane – A Working-Living-Researching Family Environment

2010-tintype-mildreds-lane-main-house-cropped_1MILDRED’S LANE is a rustic, 96-acre site deep in the woods of rural northeastern Pennsylvania, in the upper Delaware River Valley, which borders New York state. It is an ongoing collaboration between J. Morgan Puett, Mark Dion, their son Grey Rabbit Puett, and their friends and colleagues. It is a home and an experiment in living. Mildred’s Lane attempts to  coevolve a rigorous pedagogical strategy, where a working-living-researching environment has been developed to foster engagement with every aspect of life.

Another Mothership – Ahoy!

Contribution from: Mythological Quarter & Ada, title: The Robot Man Doll

The artists and curators of this site AGF and SUE-C make art with their children and so investigate this unique relationship and its collaboration potential.

By encouraging others to share their art created together with their children, we hope that this site will be a diverse and enriching space for this niche idea.

The project was launched 8 May 2011 – International Mothers Day.

The site features a callout on their site looking for critical pieces that articulate intellectual or creative ways of art made in collaboration with children.

The Work of Aylward-Williams

Gina, Jack & Robert on Floor 102 Empire State Building (104)Professor Robert Williams is an artist & academic, he trained at Lancaster University and at Leeds University where he was a Henry Moore Scholar in Sculpture Studies in 1990. He has been leader of the Fine Art Programmes at Cumbria Institute of the Arts/University of Cumbria since 1998.

Jack Aylward-Williams, the son of Robert Williams & Gina Aylward was born on Christmas Day 1998. His current interests include natural history collecting, particularly insects & other invertebrates, Tudor history, experimental chemistry, conservation and The Beano.

Robert & Jack’s interdisciplinary practice encompasses sculpture,installation, performance, film-making & writing, and includes explorations of epistemology and systems of knowledge from the hermetic to the scientific- sources for the work are drawn from subjects as diverse as natural history, archaeology, anthropology, myth and legend.

Kindling Quarterly – Creative Individuals Exploring Fatherhood

kindlingKindling Quarterly explores fatherhood. Through essays, interviews, editorials, art and photography we highlight creative individuals whose work and lives are inseparable from their role as a parent. Kindling Quarterly playfully assess and celebrates the multitude of experiences that form contemporary fatherhood.

Founded 2012 Kindling Quarterly is independently published four times per year.

To subscribe, advertise, or contribute visit

33 Nassau Ave, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn NY 11222

What are parents’ initiatives?

Parents initiatives are small, self-managed by parents and / or educators and day care centers nurseries. They usually have the legal form of a non-profit organization in which the parents are members and provide the Board. As a result, parents have great influence on all issues and the development of the association. It also means to take responsibility and to volunteer. This commitment is in addition to the board work in activities such as administrative work, cleaning, cooking, janitorial work, etc.. This is not always pleasurable, but on the other hand leads to a strong identification with the parents’ their ‘parents’ initiative.

Parent associations in Germany have a long reaching back to the 1968 movement history. The motivation for the establishment of parent associations (also colloquially called the children of stores because old store rooms were rented) was the criticism of the authoritarian pedagogy as an expression of an authoritarian society and the resulting search for social and educational alternatives.

When are we going to involve men in discussions of work/life balance?

Women who take time off after childbirth, a major medical procedure, it should be noted, which necessitates some physical recovery time as well as time with a vulnerable new infant in its first months of life, too often see themselves informally demoted upon their return, or presumed to be less dedicated employees. With a less stimulating workload and an assumption that a new mom isn’t going to perform as well as she once did, of course lots of moms find themselves bored, frustrated and eventually meeting expectations by leaving. Men with children, on the other hand, are perceived as more competent and dedicated workers.