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

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  galleries@visualcarlow.ie 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

The Mothership Project @The Workers Cafe, Temple Bar Galleries and Studios

workerscafe_logo_FINAL-1

The Mothership Project will run the next meeting at Temple Bar Galleries and Studios as part of The Workers Cafe. 

11am Tuesday 22 October

Artist parents are invited to a discussion that will be facilitated by Lynda Devenney and Seoidín O’Sullivan of The Mothership Project. This discussion will focus on the issue of balancing an art practice and childcare as an artist parent. We will look at possible alternative co-operative models of childcare that artists and art institutions/studios could adopt. Bring your ideas. Children welcome. Play and art materials will be provided.

The Workers Café transforms the Gallery at Temple Bar Gallery + Studios into a pop up cafe and social space for discussion, learning, sharing skills and food from October 11th until November 2nd 2013. Inquiries into Labour, in both historical and contemporary contexts will be collectively addressed. The Workers Café will be an event-based exhibition that will deal with these ideas, but with a particular emphasis on real-world issues facing artists in Ireland today through an investigation of time as a unit of economy, acts of community, generosity and goodwill within a micro-economy.The environment will be at once an artwork, a café, information centre and an events space. The café will become a hub in Temple Bar in which members of the public alongside artists can come to drink coffee, discuss, socialise, read and talk, as well as taking part in a series of daily curated events. http://www.templebargallery.com/gallery/exhibition/the-workers-cafe

Model for a qualitative society

‘The playing is the exhibit. It is only an exhibition because the children play in an art museum. It is only an exhibition for those who don’t play. Maybe it will become the model of a society that children want. Maybe children can tell us so much about their world that it also becomes a model for us.’ Nielsen

Trade School Dublin

BARTER FOR KNOWLEDGE

Trade School Dublin is a non-traditional learning community that runs on barter. Anyone can teach something they are skilled at, or passionate about in exchange for things they need. To attend a class, bring one of the barter items that your teacher requests.
http://tradeschool.coop/dublin/class