(I started writing this a week ago but only just had time to finish.)

I am sitting in my new studio. It is lovely and spacious, and noisy! I look over a busy junction below. Since I arrived today I have swept, hoovered, mopped, cleaned and tided the space. As I was carrying out this work I was thinking about a manifesto by the artist Merle Laderman Ukeles which I read in this week.

Here is an extract:

“I am an artist. I am a woman. I am a wife. I am a mother. (Random order).
I do a hell of a lot of washing, cleaning, cooking, renewing, supporting, preserving, etc. Also, up to now separately I “do” Art.
Now, I will simply do these maintenance everyday things, and flush them up to consciousness, exhibit them, as Art.
I will live in the museum and I customarily do at home with my husband and my baby, for the duration of the exhibition. (Right? or if you don’t want me around at night I would come in every day) and do all these things as public Art activities: I will sweep and wax the floors, dust everything, wash the walls (i.e. “floor paintings, dust works, soap- sculpture, wall-paintings”) cook, invite people to eat, make agglomerations and dispositions of all functional refuse.
The exhibition area might look “empty” of art, but it will be maintained in full public view.

A lot of what I do at the moment is maintenance. It’s the everyday, repetitive, unseen tasks that need to happen. I’m wondering how this might also become part of my art practice.

One thing I do a lot is walk (whilst pushing the pushchair). I started thinking how the walking could become part of my art practice.

I’ve been trying out a bit of buggy psychogeography. We walked around Brighton marina on a grey morning as abie slept, and noticed the flatness of the architecture, watched the lock gates opening to allow sailing boats through, and spied on the back of ASDA at the maintenance and distribution yards. It’s Interesting how modern buildings and places try to hide or cover up maintenance, refuse and the ‘back-end’ of the functions of the building. A bit like motherhood, so much work going on unseen.

This week I have also carried an ironing board, and a lot of plants, on the pushchair. I thought about working out how much I could carry on the pushchair, and making a special frame that extends capacity. Walking with a pushchair changes how you negotiate the city and the street.

I also found a lost lion by a water fountain.

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I haven’t made it into the studio for 2 weeks, and it’s been difficult to find time to write. I keep starting this and then stopping again.

I’ve mostly been working from home in bits of time during naps and after bedtime, doing bits of work which I start and stop, then come back to and try and remember what I was thinking.

I took Abie to London to meet a fellow artist-mother, who is leaving London and moving back to South Africa. We met at Tate Modern and visited the new building, taking the boys up to the 10th floor to see the amazing views. Then we saw Louise Borgeois and Mona Hatoum. She said she’d had to stop making work because of the pressures of time, childcare costs and cost of living in London. So she’s moving away.

I also saw a friend who has an 8 year old and talked about how her career in the art world has been pretty much stuck, treading water since having a child. Another friend who is thinking of having a child said she’s considering putting her practice on hold for a while once she has the baby. She was concerned that she would lose focus if trying to do both.

Parenting seems to bring more compromises for women artists, but I could be biased. I’ve heard quite a few stories of women having to totally stop making art and get ‘a proper job’ to pay for childcare. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of support available for women with young children to continue having an art practice.

Meanwhile, I’ve been continuing small everyday art works.

I photographed another abandoned toy (in a pub garden)

I’ve been casting objects on the kitchen table

And I’ve been working on my ‘mother and child’ embroidery.

Small acts are much easier to start and finish.