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

AtHomeStudios Website

AtHomeStudios Website

Following from the first themed meeting of the Mothership Project, AtHomeStudios has launch a website. AtHomeStudios is a collective of parenting artists practicing from a studio that is based in their home. It was set up as a means to forge connections between artists and provide opportunities for peer critique, collaboration and a space to share ideas. The group meets every six weeks in one of their studios. The purpose of the meetings is to build meaningful exchanges and relationships between the artists that are supportive of each artist’s practice.

http://athomestudios.wordpress.com/

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

AtHomeStudios

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

Summary:

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] hotmail.com

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]hotmail.com or email themothershipproject[at]gmail.com and the address and directions will be sent to you.

Studio at Home Meeting

Themed meeting # 1: Studio at Home

Proposal:
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:

Practically:

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

Perception:

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!

Aims:

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.

Meeting:

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  http://www.doodle.com/ubrbvdshwpdmiqxc to select your preferred time or contact me at orlawhelan@hotmail.com (by Friday 14th June) we will try to go with what suits most people.

Thanks,
Orla

http://www.orlawhelan.com