It often feels (to me at least) that motherhood is one of the last social taboos. Can you have it all? Are full time mothers wasting their potential? Are those who choose not to have children wasting denying their sex? Is it the best thing ever? Can you find it wonderful and woeful all at the same time? Does it change you? Does becoming a mother affect your sense of self? Does this change in life change who you are? How are the physical, social or political aspects of your identity altered by motherhood?
The Motherhood & Identity Project explore all of this and more. Ahead of their recording, zine, workshop and showcase as part of International Women’s Day, I have a chat with one of the founders of the project Katy Lockey.
Why do you do what you do?
There is no short or witty answer to this. This is one of a few projects I have running and they all boil down to one thing really, which is bringing people together in community, encouraging and facilitating groups and spaces where people can make authentic connections and share their own experiences. A few years ago Catherine (Sangster) and I attended a Think In as part of International Women’s Day, where they were asking ‘how can we engage more local women with this programme and these issues?’ We noticed that there was no provision for mothers caring for young children , often a barrier to attending cultural events . We proposed a workshop that parents could attend with their young children present, in 2015 on Raising Children and Resisting Sexism , then in 2016 we focused on Motherhood and Identity in particular.
Do we still need feminism? h yes.
Do you think that creative events can be useful, or is just masking over the structural and political issues?
I think that consciousness raising is never wasted. Forums for the discussions of ideas and ideologies are essential . Art is a powerful tool for comment and provocation .
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘be bold for change’ – how is your work bold and how does it encourage others to be bold?
I had not considered before what is bold about our work. There is a certain boldness in claiming public space for women with babies on their hips and noisy messy small children to be welcomed in and to have their ideas heard. So much potential is lost when we treat women in this stage of life as only care givers, or only value their contributions when they leave their family elsewhere.
The women who opened up and shared their very honest reflections and responses to the project have been extraordinarily bold. We have been so privileged to have been entrusted with these very personal and intimate stories.
I hope that it does encourage others to be bold. I hope that women reading our work and coming to the Brewery Tap to hear the sound pieces and to interact with the project will feel emboldened by the stories of our participants. And I also hope that the project itself will encourage others to get involved, and make art, respond creatively to what they care about. Catherine and I are both mothers and the whole project has been done in the margins of our work and family responsibilities. It’s easy for women to be swallowed up by these demands. I was so encouraged when a woman who had contributed to the 2016 project wrote to me to tell me how inspiring she found it, and how those reflections have led her to start to find her new, post baby, creative voice and practice. She has an exciting project in the works right now. That is a kind of boldness I am happy to claim for our project!