5 questions

Jaana Pirskanen

10 lokakuu.jpgWhat is it that enables you to work? Childcare, family, a partner, the children’s father or something else? Please explain.

My partner takes care of the children a lot when I perform in Finland or travel abroad to perform. Also, I create new acts at home in our living room. Whenever I can I do my stage makeup to reduce how much I am away. Working at home as much as possible enables me to do art.

 

Has your work been influenced by being a mother? How so?

I work with my body and having been pregnant three times, having two children and three years of breastfeeding are part of my history. Also being a mum is an important part of my life. In burlesque and drag I deal with issues such as rigid gender norms, getting older, failing, pleasure, owning your body, sexuality and gender. Being a mum is an important part of my everyday existence so it does affect the way I think about human emotions, growing, learning, time and values. I think being a mother does affect the art I do. I need to practice at home late in the evenings and there is not much space so that has an effect on the choreographies I create at the moment. If I had more time for myself I would practise more and create more.

 

Can you describe a normal workday?

At the moment I work for a human rights organisation in the daytime and then take care of the children after work and do my art in the evenings and on weekends. I have very little time to cook, clean or relax as such. I don’t watch TV. If I did there would not be time for my art. In addition, I also take a week’s leave from my day job several times a year to make my art.

 

What needs to happen to make it easier for mothers to work within the arts?

Free or very cheap childcare! I am lucky that in Finland the childcare is free or you pay a very affordable fee if you don’t earn much. It makes it possible both for me and my partner to work.

 

What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?

Nothing. I love my children. I would still like to have the two of them and spend a lot time with them. And yes, there were some years when they were babies and toddlers, when I had very little energy or time for my art because I wanted to take care of them myself, but everything become easier when the children grew a little bit older. It is easier to be away or travel abroad if needed now. 

 Pusyy by tiia herrala

about

I do drag, burlesque, collaborative art, film, and workshops. I am educated in dance, philosophy, psychology and gender studies and also work as a psychologist. I perform internationally. 

 

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5 questions

Amy Shearn

signing bookWhat is it that enables you to work? Childcare, family, a partner, the child/rens father or something else? Please explain.

This is ever-changing for me. I feel like I’ve lived about five different mother/writer lives. There’s no such thing as “finding balance,” have you ever noticed that? It’s just always shifting. When my two children were babies I was home with them and exchanged babysitting hours with other mother/writers I knew to make writing time, or stole moments during the kids’ naptimes. Often I’ll sneak away on weekends to cafés or writing spaces while my husband watches the kids or takes them to the park. Now I work fulltime, and the children are off at school and afterschool, and I take my lunch hour to write. The lunch time writing hour never feels like much, and it doesn’t work for thinking big, or revising. But in terms of cranking out pages? Since I started setting aside my lunch hour to write a year ago, I’ve written 4 essays and 4 short stories, all at tiny Manhattan café tables. So I guess the answer is, right now what enables me to work is the New York State law that full-time employees are entitled to lunch breaks. (It’s much more civilized than my shifts when I was a stay-at-home-mom!)

 

Has your work been influenced by being a mother? How so?

Of course, and in ways I’m probably not even fully conscious of. I know I’m less precious about everything now. In graduate school, for instance, I was weirdly religious about writing rituals; I couldn’t write unless my apartment was spotless and I had baked a loaf of bread and I had done a spell with my talismans at my writing desk – I mean, I’m exaggerating a little, but not much. And yet, I’ve probably written my best work on park benches when both the kids fell asleep in the double stroller and I scribbled notes on an envelope. When you’re a parent all the bullshit slips away, you know? I used to get wrapped up in those existential questions that can silence you as a writer: What is the best kind of thing to write? Does the world really need another short story? Why aren’t I as good as X? I write now because I have to, because I become incredibly crabby if I don’t. It’s maintenance. In that way it’s almost more pure – like the writing I did as a kid in a spiral notebook on my bed, just because I felt like it, because the idea was there.

I also suspect I think about my characters differently. I’m more forgiving of people in general – like it’s become clear to me just how complicated and fragile every single human is. So I think my characters have more depth, and are written with more generosity and love.

 

Can you describe a normal workday?

My days right now are extremely bourgeois. I get up around 5:30 or 6 and either write or go to the gym. I’d rather write, but feel like going to the gym now and then might make me, like, not die. Which seems good. Then I go to my day job as an editor for a website – which is good practice for a writer. Editing others’ work is so much easier than writing, first of all. You can see immediately what’s not working with a piece and why. In your own work it’s so much more murky. My editing job helps me to be a better editor of my own work, and gives me more sympathy for the many editors I’ve worked with in the past!

I set aside my lunch break for my own writing. It doesn’t always happen – you know, doctor’s appointments, lunch dates (but I often have lunch with writer-friends and we discuss our creative work so that counts as writing, kind of, I think) – but I try for 4 days a week. I have a couple go-to spots near my office in lower Manhattan, and I bring my laptop and pound out words for a solid hour. It’s kind of the perfect amount of time to write because you don’t have time to reread or get lost or berate yourself or procrastinate. It’s been years since I’ve had time to procrastinate!

Anyway, then I finish my work day and pick up my kids. My husband works late so it’s just me and the kids in the evening, and I try to be present in my time with them, help them with homework or play a game or make them help me with chores and we talk about our days, and we have dinner together and do bath and all that, and I read to them which is probably my favorite part of the day. That also counts as writing, I feel. We just finished The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, which is such fun to read aloud, and which made me think a lot about pacing – the pacing in that book is really impeccable for a children’s novel. And about characterization too – has there ever been a more complicated and efficiently drawn character than Edmund?

Then I tell myself, The kids are in bed! I can do some more writing! But usually I fall asleep instead. It’s okay. These aren’t the most creatively productive years of my life, but I am able to fit in enough work that I feel well (I really become insane when I’m not writing at all). My kids are 7 and 9, these really fascinating ages, and it’s important to me to be as present for them as possible. Having a day job isn’t glamorous but contrary to popular belief, I’m not sure how helpful it is for an artist to be broke all the time. I also reached a point with my novels where it became very clear that I didn’t know how to write the kind of book that was going to make a lot of money. That’s fine; I want to write the kind of stuff I like writing, and having a day job takes all the pressure off my novels and short stories to earn their keep.  And I’m taking in and absorbing a lot – which is part of the work too of course.

 

What needs to happen to make it easier for mothers to work within the arts?

Well, on one hand, it’s the same thing that’s needed to help women succeed in any career: affordable, good childcare. Had I had access to any kind low-cost childcare for even just a few hours a day when my kids were tiny, it would have been a great boon to my creative work and mental health. Here in the U.S., especially in expensive places like New York City where I live, childcare costs are just outrageous. I didn’t go back to work at a media or publishing job full-time until my kids were in school full-time in part because I literally would have lost money paying for full-time childcare. It was the right decision for my family, and I feel very fortunate that I was able to be home for all those insane, amazing baby and toddler moments. But as generations of women have found, even if you’re as lucky as I am – I was able to keep freelancing and writing and publishing while I was home, and found it relatively easy to step back into my field – still, you know, seven years out of the workforce = seven years’ wage gap. It’s not easy to hop back into a career, and it seems stupid that it has to be one or the other.

When it comes specifically to creative work, I think a lot about how it’s hard, in our culture, to call something “work” unless it brings in income. There is so little respect for process, for creativity, for the written word, that even I have a hard time calling my writing “my work.” I mean, it’s my life’s work, yes. But when I say, “I’m going to work,” I mean paying work. Sometimes that’s writing, but not usually writing fiction, which is my true love. So even within a family, if a mother says, “Okay, I have to go do my work now, let us pay the babysitter $20/hour so that I can not be with my children and instead do my work,” and that work is writing a scene in a novel that will take 10 years to complete and then maybe not even be published, it becomes hard to justify. It’s like a weird atavistic vestige of the industrial age, when “work” and “life” and “art” became different things, and wage work became all we considered to be “work.” We still have that tainting the way we see all the many kinds of work in our lives.

 

What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?

Well, I think it would have made a lot more sense for us to move back to the Midwest, to be near my family. When the kids were really small, if my mother had been able to watch them for a few days a week, I surely would have been able to write much more, and have much better balance in my life. And the cost of living would be a lot cheaper. Maybe I wouldn’t even have to have a day job now, and could just fiction write all day. That’s sort of hard to even think about actually.

But then again, I have to remember that I’ve lived in Brooklyn for so long that I take it for granted, and assume I’d be just as happy anywhere – when really I specifically love this specific place a whole lot, and remember first coming here and feeling this great sense of relief, like Oh this is where all the weirdos like me are! I love that my kids are NYC kids. It’s such a fun place to be. So in short I guess my advice to myself would be: live near your family, preferably somewhere inexpensive! But I doubt I would ever take my own advice because my tendency has always been to make things difficult for myself. SIGH.

hosting

about

Amy Shearn is the author of the novels The Mermaid of Brooklyn, How Far Is the Ocean From Here, and the forthcoming Unseen City. Her essays and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in the New York Times, Slate, Oprah, Electric Literature, Catapult, The Rumpus, Brooklyn Quarterly, Nimrod, and elsewhere. She worked with Anchor + Plume Press to publish a posthumously-discovered novella written by her grandmother, Frances Schutze, called The Little Bastard. Amy received a Promise Award from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and has participated in residencies at SPACE on Ryder Farm and the self-directed Artist Residency in Motherhood. She has hosted and curated many literary events in New York City, including a reading series called Lit at Lark and an author talk series at the Brooklyn Public Library. Amy has an MFA from the University of Minnesota, and currently lives in Brooklyn with her family. You can find her at amyshearnwrites.com or @amyshearn.

5 questions

Lina Peterson

IMG_8627

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.

Flora multicolur necklace - Lina Peterson.jpg

About

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.

5 questions

Demitra Thomloudis

demi

What is it that enables you to work? Childcare, family, a partner, the child/rens father or something else? Please explain.

I am extremely fortunate that I have a loving and supportive husband who understands the demands on my studio practice and academic career. Without Mike, bouncing back from childbirth and back into work would have presented even more challenges than there already are. There are however limitations, as my husband also works a full time job and we live away from any family support.  My son just turned 10 months and due to the nature of my work it’s not possible to have him in my studio (jewelry) let alone juggle caring for him and making at the same time. We rely heavily on our current childcare where my son spends most days, and the kindness and support of close friends and colleagues in our transitory university town of Athens, Georgia.

At this point I have to be very protective of my time, so during the week I keep a studio/academic schedule which allows me to be with my son in the early mornings before he goes to childcare and be home in the evening to quickly make dinner and get him ready for bedtime.  During the week every minute of my day, at the university and in my studio, is filled, without any time to spare. I work hard during the week so that I can have time to detach on the weekends and focus on my family.

Now – there are always exceptions to this rule as I often travel to teach workshops, give lectures, and do research, in which case I am pulled away from home.  Being away is difficult and FaceTime in the morning just isn’t the same as getting those snuggles in real time, but I try to keep in perspective that these times away are short and that they will ultimately enrich our lives in the long term as I continue to carve a place for myself in the field.

 

Has your work been influenced by being a mother? How so?

I think much more about the safety of my practice, and how to work in a way that isn’t hazardous to my health or the health of others. That being said, I am starting to consider my material usage more carefully, and the processes I use day to day.  I have always used CAD in my work, but I now find myself using it even more to have things produced more rapidly when it comes to cutting materials. I use laser cutting and water jet cutting more often now as I don’t have the same amount of time to sit and cut things out by hand.

On a semi-related topic, after having my son I also developed a strange fear of flying which is quite a hindrance since I travel often. Dealing with that has been an added layer to my entry into motherhood.

 

Can you describe a normal workday?

Typically my son Elias wakes up between 7-7:30am. We see my husband off to work, who has already gotten Elias’s bag packed for childcare. Elias and I have breakfast, we have play time and I take him to childcare by 9-9:30am.  From then onwards I am either at my studio/teaching or doing other school related work until about 5:30-6:30pm. Meanwhile my husband picks Elias up from childcare at 5pm. I then arrive home to make dinner and play. Routines of bath time and bedtime are carried out, and if all goes well Elias is asleep by 8:15pm.

Now all of that sounds great if it actually happened that way on a regular basis! But there is always an exception to our typical daily schedule, like early morning meetings at school which means Elias has to be taken to childcare earlier than usual, events at school in the evenings in which I miss bedtime routines, nights when Elias is teething and we are up every other hour consoling him or studio deadlines which keep me working after Elias goes to bed and leaves a husband alone on the couch for most the night.

Going out of town is another case where not only does it disrupt our schedule but we also have to figure out additional childcare support to help get Elias to his nursery as it opens after the time which my husband needs to report to work. But to counterbalance all of the above, I do have some flexibility with my schedule at the university so there are some days when Elias doesn’t go to childcare until the afternoon and we can spend more time together.

To add to that I would also like to mention how fortunate I am to be part of a supportive department at the university which welcomes my family during school events and the like, and allows me to balance both parts of my life.

 

What needs to happen to make it easier for mothers to work within the arts?

I must say I am still getting used to this new role and things in these first few months have changed quite rapidly as I watch my son transform into a walking talking version of both my husband and of me. For me, the thing I struggle with most is time, trying to acquire the time to be at work and in the studio and also trying not to feel guilty about needing that time. For me it’s an internal battle that I impose on myself – do I dedicate this hour to my work or do I dedicate it to my family? How do you choose? – especially when time seems to be on overdrive.

I honestly don’t have an answer to this nor do I know what to do to help navigate these questions. I do know that having a support network around you does allow those waters to feel more manageable. And I am lucky to have connected with many of my colleagues in the field and within my institution who have been so helpful and supportive to me and my family.

On another note – at this point, with my son being under one year, I don’t think it would be made easier by being able to have my son with me in the studio or by bringing him to my office at the university. I personally find it very difficult trying to be mom and being fully present at work at the same time. For me, I need those things to be separate so that I can give my full attention to both.

In regard to that, affordable childcare is essential, as I don’t have the luxury of leaving my son with grandma and grandpa for a few hours to get things done in my studio. It’s a much different feeling leaving my son with childcare professionals rather than a family member – again another struggle.

 

What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?

Ooof- really, it’s too soon to tell, I am just trying to keep my head above water meeting the demands of my tenure-track position and my studio practice.  I can tell you that the idea I had before Elias was born about getting lots of reading and writing done during my maternity leave was a pure fantasy! I thought – oh great, those two months that I am on leave the baby will just sleep a lot and then I can get so much work done…..ha! Maybe that’s what happens for others but it didn’t for me.

 

eli and demi

 

About
Demitra Thomloudis is a studio jeweler, visual artist and an Assistant Professor in the Jewelry and Metalwork area at the Lamar Dodd School of Art located at the University of Georgia. Originally from the Philadelphia area, she received her MFA from San Diego State University and her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art.  Her work is recognized nationally and internationally and has been invited to exhibit, lecture, and teach at institutions/fairs/events such as SOFA Chicago, Athens Jewellery Week (Greece) ​ and  the Penland School of Crafts to name a few. Artist residencies include a yearlong appointment at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft and Smitten Forum. Demitra is included in publications such as, 500 Plastic and Resin Jewelry and 500 Enameled Objects, The Art of Jewelry: Plastic & Resin: Techniques, Projects and Inspiration. Demitra’s work is represented by Charon Kransen Arts-USA, Alliages Organization-France, and Penland Gallery located at the Penland School of Crafts- USA.

 

http://www.demidemi.net

 

5 questions

Jennifer Pattison

Florence&Nanna_Dunstallworkshop©DeePatel.jpg

Florence with my partners mum, Sheena MacGowan at a workshop with Humjoli Asian Women’s Group, Wolverhampton for Girls, Girls, Girls is a collaboration between Creative Black Country, Multistory and Nazir Foundation’s Delhi Photo Festival supported by British Council and Arts Council of England’s UK-India year of Culture.

image©DeePatel

 

 

What is it that enables you to work? Childcare, family, a partner, the child/rens father or something else? Please explain.

Florence is my first child and has just turned one. Since her arrival life has been a series of firsts, including leaving her to go to work and also bringing her to work with me. Florence’s dad also works freelance and we have chosen to juggle our schedules so she can be cared for by one of us most of the time. Luckily our families are pretty close and eager to help.

I’m fortunate that I did not have to rush back to work and to be honest I was very consumed by motherhood for the first six months and didn’t really have the mental space for much else.

I have a very supportive gallerist, Francesca Genovese, who took me on just before Florence was born. She encouraged me to do an Instagram take over and be part of a panel discussion when Florence was tiny; these were the first work related commitments I made since I became a new mum. The three of us traveled to Leigh on Sea for the talk. It felt good to re-connect with my work and the world outside of the baby bubble.

I found it heart wrenching the first time I left her for the day to attend a meeting in Wolverhampton to prep for a commission I’m working on. However knowing she was with her Dad helped to ease my anxiety. I could have taken her with me but it involved a rush hour commute through London followed by a long train journey, a meeting and then home again.

It’s essential to have a supportive, capable partner who can step in when needed. My experience so far has been very positive and all the parties I’m working with have actively supported my choice of whether to bring Florence to work or not.
 

Has your work been influenced by being a mother and how so?

Yes my work has been influenced by motherhood. I was offered a commission when my daughter was six months old and chose to explore storytelling in lullabies. Specifically the oral tradition of lullaby singing and reasons why lullabies may disappear from cultures. The idea was sparked when trying to get Florence to sleep in the early weeks. Listening to my mum singing lullabies to Florence unlocked my memories of being sung to and helped me to remember them.

I really don’t think I would have thought of this at all unless it was the thing I was consumed by which was getting my baby to sleep…or not!

I have had days when I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of motherhood and I have felt incapable of seeing through the work that I have committed to. But I had days like this before. The difference now is that what spurs me on is Florence. Hopefully she will be proud of me (like I am of my mum), when she grows up. That she will know her mother as strong and capable and will use this example to believe she can achieve anything.
Can you describe a normal workday?

Since Florence was born I’ve only taken on one project, which I’m researching for now, so work can be done whenever I can snatch some time. I’m up when Florence wakes up, any time from 5.30am-7am. Depending on whether my partner is working or at home we try to split the day caring for Florence, enabling us both to get work done. Some days this is more successful than others depending a bit on what is going on for her. We are both working from home at the moment and this can be disruptive. Often Florence comes into the room where I’m working and wants my attention and cries if she is taken out. Or she wants a cuddle or to play. I also get easily distracted: I try not to get involved with what my partner is giving her for lunch or how many layers she is wearing or which playground they are going to etc., etc. I do plan to get back into the studio to allow me to be more focused but it needs to be financially viable.

On the days when we both work, if I have a meeting then Florence comes with me or one of our parents comes to London to help us. Most recently I was running a research workshop in the Black Country and Florence came with me along with my partner’s mum, which was great!

In the early days when my daughter was a small baby quite a lot could be achieved during naps, but this is not the case now. When she was younger I found the middle of the night ended up being quite a creative time. I found during her night wakings my mind was pretty productive and I wrote notes to help me remember my ideas in the morning. Now I just need the time to shoot some of those ideas.

I will be traveling abroad to make some work later this year and Florence will stay at home with my partner. It’s going to be really tough leaving her behind and being so far away – I’m going to India. Although it was always an option for us all to go together as a family I’ve decided I will be more productive on my own.

 

 

What needs to happen to make it easier for mothers to work within the arts?

All parties working with artist mothers need to be supportive and flexible and make it easy for mothers to adapt their practice to fit in with their child and childcare.

Fathers to share the responsibility of childcare facilitated by a more progressive approach in the U.K to gender indifferent parental leave…………mothers need to relinquish control and let them get on with it! (note to myself here).

More platforms/resources like this one to share experiences and encourage conversations dedicated to juggling motherhood with artist practice.

More residencies offering financially supported places with childcare.

 

 

What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?

I wouldn’t do anything differently. I’ve been doing what feels right.

 

Bio

Jennifer Pattison’s portraits are arresting and full of unselfconscious expression, her work is inspired by otherworldly characters and their stories. She graduated from the London College of Communications receiving her BA hons. in Photography in 2000. Having begun her career as a photographers’ agent Jennifer has focused on her own practice since 2012.

Jennifer has received numerous awards internationally including second prize at the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012, first prize for fine art nude at the International Photography Awards 2013, Magenta Flash Forward emerging photography winner 2013 and Honorable Mention, International Photography Awards, 2014.

Her work has been published in the Financial Times Magazine, Port Magazine and the British Journal of Photography among others. Recent commissions include: Girls, Girls, Girls – a collaboration between Creative Black Country, Multistory and Nazir Foundation’s Delhi Photo Festival supported by the British Council and the Arts Council of England’s UK-India year of Culture. In September 2014 she was invited by Brazilian collector Frances Reynolds to be artist in residence at Instituto Inclusartiz, Rio de Janeiro. She lives and works in London and is represented by Francesca Maffeo Gallery.

 

Daud, Hackney, 2013 from the series ‘Flower Boys’ ©jenniferpattison

5 questions

Noémie Doge

IMG_6727What is it that enables you to work? Childcare, family, a partner, the child/rens father or something else? Please explain.

It’s a mix of everything. My eldest daughter, Philomène (2.5 years old), goes to childcare twice a week and once a week to my parents who live about 20 km from us. My husband works at home on Friday and can look after Philomène if I have an appointment at my studio or something urgent to do. He is an art historian and works in fine arts museums. He supports me a lot in my work (financial and psychological support). Since I became pregnant with my second child, we decided that I should stop my side job for a while and spend my free time at my studio working on exhibitions. I  taught art to children and teenagers. I am extremely lucky to have all this different support.

 

Has your work been influenced by being a mother? How so?

It has helped me to be more straightforward, to care less of what people think and really do what I want. My work took a new direction when I felt pregnant with Philomène while working on my graduation show at the Royal College of Art. I realized that, as I had very little time and energy, I should use it well. So probably yes, being a mother helped me to think and accept of what I really wanted to be, a visual artist instead of a contemporary jewelry maker.

 

Can you describe a normal workday?

I breastfeed Augustine (2months) around 6.30-7am then Philomène comes in our room and asks for some milk. If it’s a studio day I bring Philomène to childcare around 9am (after huge fights about dressing up, bringing or not bringing the dolls out, etc.) Then I try to go to my studio with Augustine. At the studio, I start to breastfeed her, play/talk with her, change her diaper and then have a walk in the forest behind the building trying to put Augustine to sleep. If she’s calm, I can come back after about 15-20 minutes and start to work while she’s sleeping in the sling. If everything goes well, I can work for about 2 hours and then I start the whole process again. Breastfeeding, play/talk, diaper, play/talk, walk… and then work again. This plan works if I don’t have anything else to do (like groceries, preparing a dinner for the evening, meeting someone, paper work, calling for administration…) And very often there are unplanned things which ruins my organization and makes me very upset. I have to run out of the studio around 4.30pm to pick up Philomène at 5pm at daycare while thinking of a quick plan for dinner. We arrive home around 6pm and I start to make the meal. My husband comes back at 7.15pm and we put the two girls to sleep around 8pm. After that, I often do domestic chores and don’t have the energy to work on my things.

What needs to happen to make it easier for mothers to work within the arts?

  • An equal share of the intellectual, mental and emotional work of childcare and household maintenance between man and woman
  • longer paternity leave
  • More support from both family and professionals so that a woman can have a career and a family
  • Mental and financial support to help women to leave their children to attend artist residencies

 

What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?

I wouldn’t change a thing or would change everything.
During my two pregnancies, I was really afraid that I couldn’t work anymore on my projects once I had children. I realize now that’s not true. I still work but differently. My kids help me to contextualise my anxiety and this brings me lots of happiness, lightness and energy. They also help me to remain rooted in reality and connect me to the rest of humanity.

2015-ND0725-LRAbout the Artist

Noémie Doge studied in Geneva and Amsterdam and graduated in 2014 from the Royal College of Art in London. Since 2007, she has been presenting her work in international exhibitions, trade fairs and showrooms. She lives and works in Lausanne.

Doge works with large scale drawings about the question of perception of the environment and of the mental reconstruction of landscape. Her drawings in graphite are formed from ancient paintings, private pictures, but also optical instruments which frame, magnify, distort and which she addresses as faces.

 

 

5 questions

Viktoria Muenzker

Aeria MemoriaWhat is it that enables you to work? Childcare, family, a partner, the child/rens father or something else? Please explain.

My son Sebastian is already 13 years old and beginnning to be independent. He was born when I did my bachelor’s at the academy. In that year I moved to Vienna, but was still studying in Bratislava, which is about 60 kilometers away. The next two years I was commuting between these two places, sometimes with my baby, till I got my master’s degree. During this time, my family helped me and took care of him. Sometimes it was very difficult to leave my baby, sometimes I was happy to have a few hours for myself and was then looking forward to being with him. After my studies I had my studio at home so I could spend as much time with my family as possible without leaving. I worked while he was in kindergarten or when he was sleeping. My partner also helped me when I needed more time in my studio. He took him out or with him to work. It was much easier after he began school. I suddenly had much more time for myself to do research on new collections and to improve my skills. The next 5 years I had my workplace and exhibiting space at Atelier StossImHimmel with another 7 artists, where some of them had also children. From now on I was self-employed. I worked during the time Sebastian was at school, about 6 hours per day. In the holidays I took him with me to the Atelier.

 

Has your work been influenced by being a mother? How so?

Motherhood already influenced me in my pregnancy. For about 3 months I didn´t know I was pregnant. I was very surprised, anxious and I had mixed feelings when I found  out. At the same time I was very happy and full of expectation. This was so emotional that I had to process it in my work. In my jewellery, feelings, emotions, stories and personality are always very important. This series contains 3 brooches, each with a sonogram of Sebastian. It contains a short story about my pregnancy, my feelings during this period and my relationship to my unborn child. It was a big secret for me to be pregnant. These 3 brooches  show 3 stages of how the child grows: 18th, 24th and 27th pregnancy weeks. The basic instinct was to protect my child. This I´ve also done in the brooches, I protected the sonograms with a hemisphere from each side. I put it very gently and sensitively in a silver construction. The brooches are very light, vulnerable and fragile.

 

Can you describe a normal workday?

Now with my studio at home again it’s possible for me to work more often even in shorter time periods. I begin my day at 6 o’clock when I wake up. Then I make my coffee and prepare breakfast for Sebastian. He leaves home at about 7. Usually I start my workday at this time with organizing and planning. I decide exactly what I will do. Either I work in my studio for about 8 hours, or I work in my second job, which is an Austrian auction company that sells art, antique and new  jewellery. Then cook, clean, do my computer work (my homepage, photos of my jewellery, answering e-mails, writing texts …) and discuss with Sebastian his day at school. In the evenings, after our family dinner I usually sit at my worktable for a short time to look at and to think about the pieces that I’m working on and plan the next steps. When I have time for myself, and when Sebastian spends time with his friends, I also work few hours on weekends. In the evenings I’m usually chilling with my partner and watch a good film or read a book.

 

What needs to happen to make it easier for mothers to work within the arts?

More support from the state like financial funds, ateliers, and places where we can exhibit and present our work with good infrastructure and publicity. Free kindergartens and inexpensive child care is important. Also to talk about problems such as not enough time or regular income. An available space in official state art organizations for mothers in arts to introduce and present themselves and their work with talks, seminars, exhibitions. Organizing an international symposium of arts to make an exchange and collaboration between mother artists.

But the first and most important help is from the family. To get acceptance from the parents and friends and to get help from the partner or husband.

 

What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?

I don’t think I would do anything differently. At the beginning it was a little complicated to accommodate my studies at the academy with my little newborn, but with the help of my family, partner and the acceptance of my professor Karol Weisslechner I did my Master’s and could finish my degree. If you have a lot to do and just a little time it is important to make a plan and organize your work. I have learned to set my priorities, my achievements and my goals. All of what I now know, is the lessons I have learned in the past years as mother and as an artist.

 

Portrait (1 von 1)About

I’m a contemporary jeweller born in Bratislava (Slovakia) and based in Vienna (Austria). I graduated in 2007 from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. Since 2004 I’ve been exhibiting my jewellery collections in international Galleries, Museums and other places (Marzee/Nijmegen, Velvet da Vinci/San Francisco, V&V/Vienna, Prague/Czech republic, K Gallery Bratislava/Slovakia, Vilnius/Lithuania, Nacogdoches/Texas, Munich/Germany, Cominelli foundation/Italy, JOYA Barcelona/Spain, Beijing, Hong Kong, Alliages/France, MAD New York/USA, Putti Gallery/Latvia, Athens/Greece, ACJ touring exhibition/Great Britain, SOFA/Chicago). I got my 3 first prize awards in 2012 (Amber trip-Vilnius, Lithuania), 2013 (Gioielli in Fermento, Italy) and 2016 (Arts and Crafts Design Award, Online). You can see my jewellery in several books, international publications and exhibition catalogues.

In 2013 I published my book “Into the Unknown/Jewellery” which contains my work from 2007 to 2012 with detailed photos and texts to each collection. This book was presented for the first time in 2013 at my first solo exhibition “Into the Unknown” at Gallery V&V in Vienna/Austria.

With nature as a key source of inspiration I’m collecting its treasures. The perfection of its forms and the beauty of the material challenge me. Planned coincidence is my accomplice. My workbench is a cluster of natural history pieces. When I was interested in precious and non-precious stones I learned how to cut and facet them so I can use them in my pieces. Divergent material properties meet in unusual combinations: soft and amorphous runs into hard and edged, translucent stones into matt light absorbing bodies. Some contiguity may appear unorthodox and harmony of colours dissonant. But this irritation, this hairline crack, that suspends our perception of beauty, is attractive for me.

 

www.viktoriamuenzker.eu

 

 

5 questions

Sian Hindle

SianHindle1_Ply2016
‘Ply’ (a Dual Works collaboration, with Zoe Robertson and Steve Snell), durational performance as part of Accumulations, Whitworth Gallery, Manchester (2016).  Behind the bench: Sian Hindle and eldest son, Harry, Zoe Robertson and Steve Snell.

What is it that enables you to work? Childcare, family, a partner, the child/rens father or something else? Please explain.

I went back to work after having my first child on a casual basis initially: I was a visiting tutor at a UK university and I took on a residency at another.  Now we’ve got 3 kids and I’m a senior academic; I’m also doing practice-led PhD centring on my creative drawing practice.

As a family we’ve taken a few different approaches since having kids: we’ve hired a childminder who looked after the kids in her house, and a nanny who looked after them in ours, but over the last couple of years, my husband put his own freelance work on the back burner and taken the decision to look after the kids himself.  Now all three children are in school full time, Rick’s taking on more freelance work again and we use the school’s wrap-around provision when he can’t do the pick up and drop off.  With three kids, sickness is a fairly regular occurrence and having extended family (my mum and dad) nearby is really useful to cover emergencies, and even the grandparents and relatives who are further afield regularly play a part in sleepovers to help cover the odd trip away.  I have to say, we’ve been really lucky in having financial help from grandparents to help out with childcare.

When I was first on maternity leave, I was struck by how conventional modes of working and earning channel behaviour into traditional gender roles: caring for children becomes wrapped up with the extended roles of cooking food for the family, washing clothes, tidying the house.  My partner went out to work and became distanced from the daily grind of domestic chores; the social isolation I felt because of my absence from the workplace was compounded by a kind of domestic isolation within the home.  I was delighted when – youngest aged 3 – my partner said that he’d like to step back from work and look after the kids, but I was keen to avoid just switching roles, leaving him feeling the same way.  Of course, it’s a different best; we approach it in different ways, with different expectations and, I have to say, different standards.  Rick looks after the kids and cooks an evening meal for us all; however, he doesn’t do much by way of housework and, frankly, neither do I, so we live in a state of chaos for much of the time.  I don’t mean to valourise the feminism of living in a hovel, but there is something about refusing to take sole responsibility for the mental load of family life (the organising, the remembering of the dinner money and the birthday cards) that means that Rick and I probably do a comparable level of domestic labour.

 

Has your work been influenced by being a mother? How so?

I’m fascinated by the way we occupy our bodies: how we use them to communicate something about who we are to the people around us.  How bodies change over time – and how we respond to this – has become a key focus of my research, and I’m struck by the comments of the women I’ve worked as part of the research who have spoken about bodily changes during pregnancy.  Their experiences chimed with mine: the experience of taking jewellery off because it just seemed too hard to come into contact with the soft flesh of a newborn baby seemed a reasonably common one, and I’m interested in the role that jewellery plays in marking the rites of passage, in this case, the stripping back of self-identity on the arrival of a new baby.  The rings and earrings that are taken off in the early days might be put back on again when babies are crawling or toddling, when their bodies are more robust and the contrast between soft flesh and hard, metal jewellery is less acute – at this point, it also often amounts to a reclaiming of identity for the mother.  My own rings sat in a little pile on the stairs while each of my kids was an infant; putting them on again when they were around nine months old represented me becoming me again, and this confirmed to me the role jewellery plays in articulating aspects of identity.  Ultimately, this was a driver in developing my doctoral research, and the creative work that has accompanied this.

The other driver was the feeling of time passing; I spent so long just sitting when I was breast feeding, watching those first few months of life pass: it’s an amazing experience, but – oh god, can it be tedious at times!  However, a combination of frustration at having no time for myself, of always listening out for a baby stirring meant that – when I was at work or did get time to myself – I was immensely productive.  There was simply no time for procrastination or delaying tactics; I just got down to it – and this made me realise that I could do a PhD by tucking it into the time around family life.

 

Can you describe a normal workday?

I get up and shower before getting breakfast for myself and the kids, coffee for Rick.  I help get the kids dressed for school; there’s usually plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth at this point.  Everyone leaves the house at the same time – around 8.30am – with Rick walking the kids to school, and me cycling to work.  Cycling keeps me sane, and the 20min journey is where I plan stuff or – in reverse – mull over the day or put things to rest before I get home.  I get to work for just before 9am, get changed and I’ll be teaching, marking or dealing with admin.

Now that I’m in the final stages of my PhD, I have two days a week to work on my own research.  I might work from home, or in a campus library, depending on what I’m working on.  I’ve got a studio/office in the front room of the house; Rick built me a huge desk which fills the bay window, where I write or draw.  Since everyone passes through the front room on their way into the house, it tends to fill up with coats, shoes and school bags – but the desk is a joy to work at and it feels like my spiritual home: things really started to click into place when I started populating it with books and drawing media for the first time.

There’s a haitus in the evening, while we corral the kids to do their spellings, flute practice, reading and when we all have tea.  They’re in bed by half eight, and I might get on with my 15 minutes of writing or research.  Telling myself I’m just sitting down for 15 minutes seems to take the edges off it; inevitably, I’m at my desk for longer, but it’s enough to get me started, and that’s most of the battle.

 

What needs to happen to make it easier for mothers to work within the arts?

  • More men to spend time in the home looking after kids.
  • An expectation that artists are paid, rather than doing their work for the profile alone.
  • Greater flexibility in how the 15 or 30 hours of free childcare is used. Plenty of work within the arts takes place in the evenings and at weekends, but securing childcare at these times is difficult.
  • Innovative approaches to childcare – check out Amy Martin’s Radical Childcare project, @_famalam, in Birmingham, by way of example.
  • Strong networks, so that carers – of either gender – feel supported and connected, and the isolation of looking after young kids is reduced.
  • Maybe women need to let go of some of the mental load of housework, and accept that a bit of grime is not necessarily going to kill anyone.

 

What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?

Realising that nothing lasts forever was the starkest revelation: I went through an awful lot of unnecessary angst during the early years, and it’s only the experience of another 2 kids that’s shown me that whatever it is, it’s generally over in the blink of an eye (in the grand scheme of things).  Gritting my teeth and waiting for it to pass is a pretty good first line of defence.

SianHindle2_Rings2016
Rings for collaborative drawing (2016), copper, graphite, charcoal.

About

Sian is an artist and academic who uses drawing to explore how jewellery can articulate aspects of the embodied self. She is particularly interested in how the experience of wearing jewellery impacts on the performance of identity, and drawing is central to her ongoing doctoral research, where both participants and artist are involved in documenting embodied responses through mark making.

Sian’s background is in English Studies but she’s made a home for herself at the School of Jewellery, Birmingham City University, where she is now the Programme Leader of the MA Jewellery and Related Products course.  She contributes to the School’s developing research culture by convening a range of research events, including Talking Practice (a series of lectures exploring a broad range of creative practice) and Drink and Draw (a series of workshops which seek to engage makers in drawing and mark making of all kinds).

 

 

5 questions

Sue Ginsburgh

sue g2
Regina Ruben in Brook Street W1

What is it that enables you to work? Childcare, family, a partner, the child/rens’ father or something else? Please explain.

There is no doubt that having children changed my working patterns. On the birth of my first child I was working from home in my own business and had a nanny: although expensive this childcare option allowed me flexibility. By the time my second child was born I was a fractional lecturer at LMU and continued with a nanny for another two years. This method of childcare was good but if the nanny left it caused a lot of disruption. I had three different nannies: one lasting 2 years, another 5 years and the final nanny lasted about 6 months. Childcare was also supplemented by grandparents and aunties to keep down cost. This continued until both children went to school but it was a huge commitment by our families as they travelled from Essex to SE London. At 2 years old my daughter went to a Montessori day nursery from 8-6 3 days a week, which was the best option.

Has your work been influenced by being a mother? How so?

I think before being a mother I switched off my emotional self as a designer and worked completely in my head. I ignored how I felt physically, working long hours, travelling a lot and generally feeling I had to keep up with the men in the design world. Being a mother has made me a more compassionate and understanding designer. I am more flexible and more empathetic. My interests have changed: I am now more concerned with ‘Design for Social Change’ whereas prior to having children I was part of a design business where money, status and kudos were a big driving force.

Can you describe a normal workday?

I get up at 6.15am and have breakfast with my husband and 14 year old son. They both leave for school/work at 7am and I have from 7/7.30pm to plan my day before I get my 10 year old up. I supervise her homework, reading etc., organise her day with her, clear up the breakfast things, put on the washing and take her to school at 8.30. I am back at 9am when I start my day. I work from 9-3.15 sometimes not having lunch if there is a deadline. I go and do the school pick-up, we have drinks and a recap of the day, I prepare dinner and go back to work around 4.30/5pm. At 6pm I finish work, serve the dinner, clear up, have a bath, get them ready for bed and supervise homework for my older son. My partner doesn’t get in until 8pm. We have an hour’s family time 8-9pm and then the children go to bed at 9/9.30pm. If I have a deadline I will go back to work at this time, if not I will relax.

What needs to happen to make it easier for mothers to work within the arts?

More support from female work colleagues, more understanding about sick children and about having to leave on time to pick up children from childcare providers. I feel more working from home is a good thing for working mums, with flexible start and finish times. Onsite childcare is a plus but also and fundamentally I feel that a change of thinking is required from non-parents. I sometimes feel that designers without children lack empathy and understanding because they don’t value your choice of putting anything before the work.

What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?

I would have continued with my own business when the children were younger and taken the financial inconsistency of running your own business and grown it slowly. I would have supplemented my earnings with a day or two days a week teaching rather than having a fractional position at a FE institution. I would have sent both children to a Montessori nursery from babies as my daughter had such a positive experience.

sue

About
Sue Ginsburgh is the founder of the Interior Design Agency and since graduating from the Royal College Art has accumulated over 24 years extensive experience in both academia and the interior design industry. Her previous employers have ranged from small design practices to multinational design agencies and many of her previous design projects have been published in FX, Campaign, Frame, Design Week and Marie Claire. She worked at London Metropolitan University for 12 years on the FDA, BA and MA programmes. She was the MA Interior Design Course Leader from 2007 and the MA Design Suite Course Co-ordinator from 2010. The MA Design Suite was made of eight disciplines: interiors; fashion; textiles; furniture; product; jewellery; graphic design and illustration. Sue managed this complex programme and collaborated with colleagues from all disciplines. She also liaised with external partners such as the Royal Academy of Art, the National Trust, Toynbee Hall, TFL, Orange and London Jewellery Week. In collaboration with these organisations Sue set up live student projects. Her research interest is ‘Co-design’ and ‘Design for Change’ and ‘Cross Disciplinary Experiential Design Process’. She has taught on Interior Design and Interior Architectural programmes at Kingston University, London Metropolitan University, Middlesex University, has been visiting lecturer at Westminster University and on the validation panel for University of Hertfordshire. When she was the MA Interior Design Course Leader at London Metropolitan the students’ work was included in a book published by Frame in 2015. She is the mother of Zach 14 and Mia 10 who have undoubtedly been her most rewarding projects and have influenced her design work by broadening her horizons and reminding her that design is about social change.

5 questions

Souraya Karami

Nash 3 images

What is it that enables you to work? Childcare, family, a partner, the child/rens father or something else? Please explain.

When the children were babies, I had a nanny 3 days a week so I could go to the office and work. Now that the kids are at school, I work from home and adjust my schedule around theirs.

Has your work been influenced by being a mother and how so?

Totally, absolutely, immensely.

Mainly it’s the time, you just don’t have enough hours as before having kids. I have to pick them up at a certain hour, it’s not like I can stay another 10 minutes to finish the piece of work. I have to finish at a certain time. So if the work is not finished, I have to do it at night. Which also is a problem, because you are so tired, you actually can’t do it some nights. So things start falling into cracks.

Can you describe a normal workday?

We all wake up around around 6:30, I get ready, get the kids breakfast, they get ready (with loads of prompting and shouting! Oops), I drop them at school at 8:30. Back home to my desk. But of course I have to tidy up a bit, so not that fast to my desk. Usually by 9am I have started. Focused and driven, I get on with work. Coffee breaks involve using the dishwasher or doing the laundry. Which is good, because when I worked in an office this could have never happened and had to be done in the evening. Then lunch break means preparing their dinner – also a good thing, as I don’t mind it. Better than stressing the whole day about what I will feed them. 3:50 I have to leave regardless of anything I have still to do. 4:10 we are back home. And chaos starts. Sometimes I still need to do some work. Maybe a client calls and wants to return a pair of shoes, or ask about something – I have to take the calls, I have to reply to emails, or send the factory that list of leathers I promised to send. So the few hours between 4 and 7 are the very worst. Guilt towards the kids as I need to be with them rather then in front of my computer, guilt towards my work as I have not finished it properly and so on. But there are good days, and these good days are when I decide to stop working at 4 and dedicate the afternoon to the kids. Or when they are at a playdate and won’t be back home till 6!!!! Oooopssss…

What needs to happen to make it easier for mothers to work within the arts?

More affordable childcare maybe? More workspaces and work areas where you can take your kids and they can play and have someone look after them while you work? Not sure. In my case I did not want to be near them, I needed the separation, so had to get a nanny and then put them in nursery. But it’s soooo expensive that it’s very very hard for women with babies and toddlers to do it. So I would say more funding from the government for childcare.

What would you have done differently knowing what you know now?

I don’t know. I really don’t know. I am not sure there is another way. You just have to juggle and juggle and learn and adapt. Ideally I wish my family lived closer but they don’t, and there is nothing we can do about it.

 

Souraya picnew

About

Esska is a London based ladies footwear brand that launched in 2006 and has been known since then for its stylish, unique and practical designs, selling to boutiques worldwide.

Souraya Karami, the designer behind Esska, originally trained and worked as an architect before studying footwear design at the renowned Cordwainers in London.

It was not only a passion for shoes that led Souraya  to this shift in career, but the distinct lack of footwear designed for a confident woman who places equal value on comfort and beauty.

Her dream was to make shoes that are feminine and modern, and above all, practical and comfortable.

And this is exactly what defines Esska’s unique style: clean lines, dominant shapes, organic silhouettes, timeless designs, and a bold use of colour.

Collections / Designs

Season after season, Souraya has created collections inspired not only from architecture but also from various urban aesthetics. The designs are focused on geometric shapes through wrapping, layering and interlacing. Colour paneling add depth to the collections and asymmetrical shapes create uniqueness in the ranges.  The lines remain clean and the silhouettes organic.

A wide range of heel shapes and heights, from the dominant chunky to the more sculptured feminine.

Toe shapes follow the foot shape for added comfort. All styles have padding and flexible rubber outsoles.

Stockists

Esska conquered the hearts of women all over the world. Its rising success established its good reputation by selling through more than 200 boutiques worldwide. The brand has developed a loyal customer base of women who “never stop at one pair of Esska shoes”, according to a London stockist. Independent boutiques are spread in France, Germany, England, Holland, Spain, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, Greece, and the United States.

https://www.esskashoes.com