In the last couple of weeks I’ve been back in West London working on the textiles project, and the group have produced some wonderful work. On the last day everyone brought cakes and sweets to share from all over the world (well all over Ealing).


I feel sad to not continue that space of making and talking but I’ve begun to create an installation in the studio, which is exciting.   One of the things I keep thinking about is how much the project embodies care, a kind of shared care, and as a socially engaged artist whether it is possible (or important) to make work that both embodies care, but can also be provocative, and ask questions.


As a parent there definitely seems to be a balance of care and challenge, as I discovered today. I bought Abie a banana milkshake thinking he would really like it but he thought it was more interesting to make a drawing with it. I had to say no as the cafe staff were looking at us askance. We then went on to Hove Museum where we could make marks more officially in the children’s area and I tried to draw Abie whilst he made his first attempt at a drawing.

It’s the end of the summer and the start of term, so its back to work for me. I start teaching again next week. Its going to be more difficult to make time for my residency but I’m going to try in little moments. I did some more buggy psychogeography, in the rain, going for a walk along the seafront to look for sites for the students projects.  Pushing a buggy is a good camouflage for nosing around. Sometimes the invisibility of motherhood is a protective cloak.



Whilst I try to write up a chapter of my phd, I have been reading about mobility.In the introduction to Life Between Borders: The Nomadic Life of Curators and Artists. one of the editors asserts that “you have to be mobile to ‘make it’ in the art world.”

I can see this is going to cause me problems. Mobility with a 1 year old is not impossible, but it can be tricky. We have recently been travelling to visit relatives and friends and I decided to use this as a start to think about mobility in parenthood. Wherever we go we have to find some swings, as that is my son’s favourite activity, so I’ve started to photograph swings in different locations we visit. We’ve also been testing the childrens activities on offer at various galleries, in Yorkshire,  Nottingham, and Eastbourne so far.

Being a parent you can be mobile but it isn’t as easy to jump on a plane and go on a residency for a few weeks. It’s a different kind of mobility, where you can spend a day wandering about with no fixed destination and visit charity shops, parks, etc.

I was thinking about other differences between this residency (so far) and other residencies I’ve been on:

  1. Not a good idea to get drunk and stay up late.
  2. Not around a group of other artists.
  3. Not a lot of dancing involved.
  4. Foreign travel not involved.
  5. Having to cater for self and others food needs.
  6. Having to do cleaning, housework and laundry.
  7. More difficult to be spontaneous.

Laura Kenins writes about how a residency is often seen as a place to escape the constraints of everyday life. My residency is all about everyday life. I can’t escape it, but perhaps I can make it part of the residency. Or maybe I need to find ways to add some of these ‘residency’ aspects I’m missing to my residency/life. Hmmmm.

Last week I watched with Baby Boom with Diane Keaton trying to juggle a career as an executive and a baby. In the end she jacks in her job, telling her sexist boss (‘You can’t have it all’) to shove it and moves to Vermont where she is so bored she spends an entire winter making applesauce. However, the constraints of this lead to success manifesting itself in a new way. A lesson learnt, although the end message (move to country, set up successful gourmet organic baby food business, swap modernist furniture for floral chintz) does seem to involve a bit of a compromise (not to mention an all-American rabid capitalism).

On a positive note I just read about a new project in London that offers ‘flexible childcare’ for artist- mothers. although it is temporary.


Maybe we’ll go on a residency excursion and pay them a visit.





Life Between Borders: The Nomadic Life of Curators and Artists. Edited by Steven Rand and Heather Felty
published by apexart. 2014

Laura Kenins: Esapists and Jetsetters: Residencies and Sustainability. C Magazine, August 2013