What is it that enables you to work? Childcare, family, a partner, the child/ren’s father or something else? Please explain.
I live in London with my daughter Edith and my partner Bill. We’re far away from any family that can help out with childcare and so we try to split the childcare between us as much as we can. Edith goes to nursery two days a week and I’d love for that to be three days, but it’s just not financially possible and it’s frustratingly expensive as it is.
Has your work been influenced by being a mother? How so?
I believe that my creative practice hasn’t really been influenced by motherhood. I can perhaps relate to bodies of work that explore motherhood, like those of Louise Bourgeois, more deeply – but equally I can be frustrated by artists whose practice becomes driven by their experience of being a mother. (I’m struggling to think of men who change their practice to be about fatherhood – perhaps this is one reason why it bugs me.) The things I explore in my work are more about texture, colour, materiality and composition.
It also hasn’t changed the way I work. Before having Edith, I’d heard so many times about makers who, once they’d become mothers, became more focused and really made the most use of their time. I’m frustratingly just as hesitant to commit to ideas, as confused about my practice and, if anything, even worse at organising my time as my brain is now juggling even more things and operating on much less sleep.
I also do not manage to get much work done during nap times, as this is also a great time to check emails, look on ebay, eat something, wash something, shift the debris that’s littering our flat, sleep, check Instagram, drink something. And sometimes I feel that it’s important to try to connect with myself, with my own body and my own brain that’s not my daughter’s body or my daughter’s brain. It really has to be ok not to do something all the time and even though it was (still is) hard to come to terms with, for me that means that my making is somewhat compromised. So, I work less, but in the same way as before.
I also work as a Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Jewellery at UCA, and the reality of this being my main income also means the jewellery making taking a hit. I also find it almost impossible to work in the evenings. Once Edith is asleep it’s often gone 8pm and I’m often yet to have dinner and I’m just too tired. I’ve just managed to write this during Edith’s nap – but it’s taken me four months to find the right time.
Can you describe a normal workday?
If I’m teaching I get up somewhere between 5 and 7, depending on when Edith wakes up, and whether I get up with her or my partner. We then have breakfast and I leave the house before Edith and Bill leave for nursery, if it’s a nursery day. If I teach I work until 5.15 and then the drive back to London from Kent is around 1hour 30 so it’s close to seven and bedtime when I get home. If it’s a studio day I get to the studio around 9.30 and I try my best to have planned ahead so I don’t lose too much time faffing and can concentrate on making. I also try not to bring my computer with me as it poses too many distractions! I have to leave the studio at 3.40 if I’m picking up from nursery, so it’s not a long day, or I can carry on working for a couple of hours if Bill does the pick-up.
What needs to happen to make it easier for mothers to work within the arts? What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?
We had a vague inkling that having a child would be difficult, but we had no idea how hard it is! Other than moving the grandparents from Sweden to London, or us to Sweden, I don’t think we could have done much differently. We have had the conversation ‘what if we were in Sweden’ more than once, due to the support we’d get from family and the state supported childcare system. That is one thing that I believe has to change here in the UK – childcare has to be more affordable and more easily available.
Born in Gothenburg, Sweden, Lina Peterson spent the last eighteen years living in the UK. She graduated from the University of Brighton and holds a Master’s degree from the Royal College of Art in Goldsmithing, Silversmithing, Metalwork and Jewellery, where she studied between 2004-2006.
Lina Peterson’s work has been exhibited extensively internationally, including Schmuck and COLLECT and I have held a number of residencies.
She work from my studio in East London where she has been based for ten years this year. She also work as Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Jewellery at UCA in Kent.