What is it that enables you to work? Childcare, family, a partner, the child/rens father or something else? Please explain.
My partner Neil has always been massively supportive when it comes to sharing the responsibility of parenting. We took six months shared parental leave together. Although, I’m not sure we managed to do anything bar the inevitable endless clothes washes, food prep and nappy changes in those first few months.
Since moving to New Zealand we have prioritised childcare which most weeks gives me a clear day to focus on getting my practice up to speed. The rest of my practice is squeezed in and around other jobs and responsibilities. I still aim to do everything I did before, but I guess what ultimately happens is that things get done over a longer period of time. There is a lot of shuffling, juggling, prioritizing and finding new ways to multitask activities. Thankfully my partner is a logistician.
I think becoming a mum has really focused my attention. Time is so limited that I want to get the absolute most I can out of any free time. I think there were points where it could have been quite easy to give up on my art career, but I feel even more determined I think because of being a mum. I want to be a positive role model for Oz; for him to see me following my dreams, not giving up on them.
Has your work been influenced by being a mother? How so?
I often work narratively, taking on, and making work as an alternate persona. I am currently making work as a housewife/mother. This series started before Oz came along, so conceptually this is coincidental, however, the experience of being a mom has definitely fed into what and how I’m making: The work has become semi-autobiographical.
Can you describe a normal workday?
There isn’t really such a thing as a normal work day for me. Although I try to bring as much routine into the day as possible, Neil’s job means I’m on my own a fair bit, so we have to be fairly flexible.
Assuming my partner is around, on a ‘studio’ day, after getting up at six and doing the usual morning routine, running Oz and Neil to nursery and work, I’ll either head into Christchurch where I hot desk, or head back home and try to ignore all the housework. I find this virtually impossible, so a lot of the day is spent chopping and changing between mom mode and art mode. Mom mode usually wins, but recently I’ve been convincing myself this is ok, as I can observe myself for ‘work purposes’.
If I’m at the studio, then I’ll head back home in the early afternoon to quickly scoot round the kitchen and work out what we’re going to eat for dinner, swing by the supermarket, or dig some veg out the garden and then go and pick up the boys. If Neil has the car, that buys me a bit of extra time.
Dinner is on the table at 5pm, bath time is at 6pm and bedtime is somewhere between 7 and 7.30 depending on Oz’s buy-in to the process. If it’s not my story night, I may attempt a bit of yoga. More often than not this doesn’t happen. I make Oz’s lunch for the following day, do the washing up etc, then attempt to get a bit of admin done before we go to bed at around ten.
What needs to happen to make it easier for mothers to work within the arts?
My overwhelming desire at this juncture, is to begin a diatribe about the wider issues regarding gender parity. However, looking specifically to the arts, a small change which I think would benefit mothers (and others too) would be to put an end to age specificity which seems to preside over grants, competitions, internships etc. These are, more often than not, directed at young graduates, which makes the assumption that candidates have taken a direct route through school or college, to university or similar. This inflexibility can mean that women who have opted to have children during this period often end up missing out on these opportunities.
What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?
I can’t really see myself doing anything different. Training for less sleep would have been useful.
Fliss Quick (b1978, Sheffield, UK) is a cross-disciplinary artist whose works range from site-specific and ephemeral actions, to print, sound and installation.
Using narrative as a means of interrogation, she presents pieces as pseudo-factual objects, blurring the distinction between fact and fiction: She looks to raise questions about, and essentially subvert, social norms and assumptions.
Fliss has exhibited internationally, and completed residencies in Malaysia, Canada, Coventry and Birmingham. She received the Mary. E. Hofstetter Legacy Award for Visual Arts in 2015.
She currently lives in Canterbury, New Zealand.