The M Word: About the Artists
Paula’s practice is predominantly three-dimensional and as such can be considered sculpture. However the works themselves do not sit easily as sculptural objects, they do not conform to established notions of form and space; but rather jostle in at the edges of art practice like objects found at a car boot sale or charity shop. Domestic objects and images are subverted through the careful crafting of materials to present uncanny narratives of women’s relationship to home. Paula’s academic interests are grounded in feminism, exploring ideas around disrupted domesticity and the potential for domestic objects; furniture with memories, to perform as sculpture that materialises domestic dissent.
Paula Chambers has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally; with a back catalogue of solo shows, including Home (dis)Comforts at Dye House gallery, Bradford, Transcendental Housework at Stockport Art Gallery and Domestic Pirate at Show Space, London. Paula studied under Griselda Pollock at the University of Leeds for the MA Feminist History, Theory, Criticism and Practice in the Visual Arts; this course had a profound and long lasting impact on the focus and direction of Paula’s art practice and academic interests. Paula is currently Subject Leader for Sculpture BA (Hons) Fine Art, at Leeds Arts University. She is studying for a practice-led PhD at Middlesex University.
“I built this life-sized asymmetrical heart, a wooden double coffin for an adult and a child in response to hundreds of years of fostering the mother’s image as a predetermined professional mourner. I have created this work, “Double”, to propose an alternative to the iconic depiction of bereaved mothers also known as the Pietà. I decided not to accept the acceptance of the bereaved mother and offer mothers and parents other narratives.”
Dothan’s mission in researching the representations of women and particularly mothers in Renaissance art, reveals a gap between the idealised mother as she depicted in the Renaissance art and what a real mother experiences. Through her works, Dothan examine these masterpieces, paintings and sculptures today, as Visual Contracts, crossing generations, borders and beliefs, creating emotional and ideological prisons for mothers made by the great masters.
Must she always be loving, caring, perfect and ideal? Must he always be passive and take the role of the victim? Can a portrait of mother and child depict a spectrum of emotions rather than a singular feeling as the mother-child theme was narrated in classical iconography? What will be the impact on our society, if the mother will be allowed having mixed emotions towards her child and the child will also be allowed to take a different role than a victim?
Leni Dothan is an Israeli Artist and Architect living in London. She has a B.Arch from Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem, a MFA from the Slade, and is currently studying for a PHD at Birkbeck in Feminism and the Bible.
The Boob Bean bags originally formed part of a performance installation called “A Balancing Act”, performed for Desperate Artwives first takeover of Leyden Gallery, March 2017. “A Balancing Act” reflected upon the contradictions and the duality of meanings and representations of breasts. In the performance I attempted to give the gallery goers the opportunity to lie back and relax on the soft breast shaped bean bags and pillows while I, the performer struggled with a different reading of what breasts mean, a hyper-sexualised version of the female body, being forced to conform to a particular and narrow reading of her gender. Here, I am presenting the Boob Bean Bags on their own and inviting the gallery goers to relax back and contemplate The M Word show.
Katy Howe is a London and Essex based multidisciplinary visual artist, who has been making work across art and performance since 2003. Prior to that she was a professional dancer for over a decade where she worked extensively in dance and theatre both in the UK and around the world. Her current practise engages with a variety of media, ranging from performance, installation, photography and video, to collage, drawing and object making. She often draws on her previous experience as a dancer and on her current situation as a parent, giving her work a strong autobiographical thread running through it. Her work frequently explores notions of identity and interrogates the confines of gender stereotyping. She is always searching for other possibilities of expressing our gendered selves and constantly questioning the ones that are forced upon us. She has a recent Masters Degree in Fine Art, with Distinction, from Central Saint Martins, UAL, London.
Tracey Kershaw’s work is partly autobiographical, whilst at the same time reflecting on common experience. She incorporates collaborative and participatory elements into her art; gathering and sourcing data from life, others and the world around her, and often integrating her own presence into her work. Focusing on the details and familiarity of everyday events, Kershaw utilises unremarkable, personal experiences to articulate both the extraordinary and the momentous. Unexceptional incidents are seen from her perspective as mother and observer, and presented as an epiphany, a signifier of the real.
“A kitchen sink aesthetic runs through much of Kershaw’s work and frames her as a contemporary social realist, artfully shedding light on the everyday and ordinary. Too often in our event based culture, ordinariness can falsely read as emptiness, when arguably it is the very glue that connects humanity. This truth is the touchstone of Kershaw’s work.” Tom Hackett, a-n, 2018.
Sophia Marinkov Jones
“My work has explored landscape, conservation and how identity is forged through family experience. After the birth of my son I began to reflect on the maternal experience. I often work on the floor with my son present and his energy drives the process. This dynamic developed thanks to Procreate Project’s Mother House, where I was invited to make work alongside my son in a shared studio space. I am interested in the gestures that are exchanged between mother and child and the deeper psychological impression (and disturbance) that a child makes on an adult and how this is managed and returned back to the child”.
Sophia Marinkov Jones has a BSc in Architecture from The Bartlett, UCL, and a MA Printmaking from the Royal College of Art.
Leanne Pearce developed her practice as a traditional painter, and is now focusing her work on large scale portraiture. Her latest project focuses on breastfeeding. She has exhibited her breastfeed collection across the UK and is presented in the Royal Victoria Infirmary. Alongside her practice, in 2017 she and her husband Gareth Billinghurst opened a Community Interest Company called Thought Foundation, with an underpinning ethos of thoughtfulness, kindness and creativity. Leanne has developed a space, which offers a contemporary art gallery, event space and a café.
Leanne Pearce trained in Fine Art and later in Graphic communication.
Megan Wynne is a multi-media conceptual artist who lives and works in Chesapeake, Virginia, USA. In her artwork she uses her maternal body as a site to explore the interdependence and anxiety of the mother-child relationship. Her process often involves the act of relinquishing control in experimental collaborative performative scenarios with her three children. Through the acceptance of uncertainty and reliance on adapting to the moment, her practice is one of tempting failure, and embracing vulnerability as a mother, and as an artist.
She holds a BFA in sculpture from Pratt Institute and a MFA in New Genres from San Francisco Art Institute. She has exhibited in the US and throughout the UK in spaces that include Root Division in San Francisco, CA, Virginia Museum of Contemporary art, MF Gallery in Brooklyn, NY and Stills Centre for Photography in Edinburgh, UK. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, such as Elephant Magazine, Bust, and Procreate Project’s photozine archive. Most recently her work was featured in “Maternal Journal” a zine for mother artist published by Washington Project for the Arts. She is currently participating in ”Double Edged”, a collaborative experimental artists’ project through the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.
“No one tells you about the kind of mental or emotional toll parenting takes on you. They say it is hard, but they don’t say how or why and you’re left to grope your way through the turbulent passage of parenthood. Ambivalent and overwhelmed by the all-consuming role of motherhood, I have tried to capture on the ongoing experience through an autobiographical lens,” Dawn Yow.
The Last Time is a photographic narrative that loosely chronicles the night her third child was born. Desperate to embrace the dual identities of mother and photographer (and hold a newborn and a camera at the same time), Dawn made a smattering of images of her perspective of the birth and its immediate aftermath, as a record of the event and a means of preserving overlooked, fleeting moments that would otherwise be lost.
Dawn Yow is a photographer and writer who uses the camera as a diaristic and cathartic tool to explore and cope with the roller coaster that is motherhood. She documents the seemingly banal, the visceral, the private, and the raw moments highlighting the trials and tribulations of life with children. Originally from Canada, she is currently based in Liverpool, where she juggles creative escapades and parenting three kids.
Desperate Artwives is a social enterprise set up in 2011 as a way to provide a platform for women artists who are also mothers. We offer support by promoting their work and creating opportunities whilst raising awareness of women’s neglected topics, such as childbearing and motherhood. We strive to empower this group of women throughout that challenging time that is the perinatal time and ultimately we hope to increase their visibility within the art system and society.
Amy Dignam is an artist, curator, funder of the Desperate Artwives project and mother. Amy founded the DAW whilst pregnant with her 3rd child. Initially as a platform for women artists who are also mothers, Desperate Artwives was the only one of its kind at that time. From there it quickly grew into a strong collective of female artists most of who are mothers but also includes women who have other caring responsibilities who wanted to bring together reactive and proactive art to challenge stereotypes, call up social issues and create a visible international platform from which to do this.