Today I am a mother. Not that I’m not a mother every day, but today is one of those days where parenting is at the very forefront of my priorities. We’ve spent a night with a small child in between us fretting and tired. Today has been a day partly worked from home and partly worked at the office with a small child in tow. She’s loving it. A whole day with mummy all to herself. She is currently drawing staff portraits on the whiteboard in the office and very soon, Peppa Pig will be pulled out on the tablet. I am working as best I can, juggling the tiredness and the distraction.
Distraction, Intervention and Disruption
When I teach my teacher’s class on a Tuesday afternoon after school, my children go with me. The smaller of the two crawls inside the tent we set up in the adjacent room to play, while the bigger one hangs out with me. She likes to be “teacher’s help”, switching off the lights and switching on the projector, cleaning the board and handing out class materials. Sometimes she even gets to lead a warmer activity with the class. I try as much as I can to involve her.
If you look carefully at a lot of my artwork over the last few years, you’ll see lots of evidence of the interventions and disruptions of small hands. Scribbles, odd colour combos, blobs and rough painting blending into the overall image I finally arrive at. Again, involving my children in art making became necessary to be able to continue to make work at all.
Not making work makes me grumpy and anxious and low. I needed to be able to engage with my artmaking more than just a few stolen hours on a Sunday at my small studio now and then. So, I rethought the studio space and how I worked. I moved artmaking into the domestic context. That meant less space, and concentration, thought and time became broken and disrupted. I needed that reality to become part of my practice and make it a postive force in art making. Hours of uninterrupted conversation with a visual narrative was a luxury not open to me because I had chosen to be a mum.
I now work on the floor, in a tiny space at home, with water-based products. I have various things on the go that I pick up and put down throughout the week, in stolen moments, or in late night scribblings, or with the girls in active all-hands-on time. Having the girls attack my work was at first scary, and still is, but they’ve helped me arrive at new departures, see spaces in a new way and their disruptions contribute postively to the development of an image. We enjoy doing it together.
And now, I can’t write more. My eyes are on stalks and I’m daydreaming of a decent night’s sleep.