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North West creatives (M)other launch exhibition at Great Northern Warehouse celebrating artist parents

A collective of parent artists from the North West and Manchester have launched an exhibition discussing themes of parenthood and exclusion.

Formed in 2022, (M)other, a collective of ten North West based creatives have put together an exhibition created “on parent’s terms.”

Inspired by ‘How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (and other parents)’ by Hettie Judah, (M)other, is combating the exclusion of artist-parents with a family friendly exhibition and free workshop hosted at the convenience of parents, families and children.

Claire Weetman Landing Lights

We spoke to Lydia O’Hara, who is part of the collective about the exhibition and its aims.

She said: “I started the collective because after having my daughter I felt a resurgence of creative inspiration as an artist.

“I was looking around the area in the North West to try and find a collective of artist parents and mothers, but unfortunately nothing really fitted the bill.

“So I thought you know what let’s just start and see if anyone is interested. Thankfully an amazing group of women, with very diverse backgrounds, practices and experience levels joined up. So it’s been great to get together and decide what we want to achieve as a collective.

“We’re all on the same page, we want to support each other in art making and our parental roles. We are all mothers, but it was open to any parents and I think there’s something particular about that in our group.

“We are all in different stages of motherhood, some with young children, some who are grown and about to fly the nest so we’ve got a great spread of experience and knowledge.

“It’s a dual role in the artist experience and mother experience which has often been noted as a difficult act to balance.

“The dual role makes it difficult to engage in an art world, private views often aren’t really family friendly.

“What we want to do for this exhibition was start as we mean to go on and help mothers access the art. We didn’t want to silo us away from other art events but invite everyone at an inclusive time, weekend afternoon and it’s okay if kids cause chaos, because that’s what they do!

“We wont dilute the art experience either just because it’s family friendly.”

The (M)other exhibition which launches on Saturday 21st January, 14:00-16:00 and will run until Wednesday 25th January, invites attendees to explore the collective’s works – inspired by experiences of parenting, the gaps between, or as a place to escape from those responsibilities.

Between 14:00-16:00 on Saturday 21st, the collective will be hosting a family friendly launch event where attendees will be introduced to (M)other through sketchbooks, emerging ideas, artworks and previous projects that have been put to one side.

Reflections Jo Joy

Lydia continued: “I think it’s difficult for parents to engage in the art world for sure.

“The freelands foundation have commissioned reports looking into this, often its primary care givers who are excluded. It’s hard to bring together the needs of your family and the needs of people you need to work with in the art world to progress your career.

“It’s not a 9 to 5 job and it’s hard to manage the childcare and projects that don’t necessarily fit into a classic family life style.

“There is a movement towards fixing this but it’s still very early days.”

“There can be a stigma attached to having children as an artist as some galleries will make assumptions about what that means for your ability to ‘create good art’ and produce work that fits with the gallery time line.”

This time located at The Village Hall at Great Northern Warehouse, the collective is breaking down barriers to parents attending private exhibitions, which are typically hosted weekdays between 18:00-21:00 – prime dinner, bath and bedtime hours for primary caregivers, to inspire creativity and connect with others in the community space.

On Monday 23rd January from 11:00-12:00 (M)other will host the collective’s first workshop, a body positive art session led by artist Lydia O’Hara whose piece in the exhibition ‘YOU ARE NORMAL’ inspired the workshop.

At this session, parents and children are encouraged to explore how creative expression can be used to feel proud of their body, with parents invited to model body confidence to children.

The (M)other exhibition is open Sunday 22nd 11:00-15:00, Monday 23rd 10:00-14:00, Tuesday 10:00-14:00 and Wednesday 25th 12:00-14:00 and is free to attend.

Lena and the Sea Balance

(M)other, which has been supported by the Great Northern Warehouse and funded by Forever Manchester, acts as a support network for members to engage with the wider community, form new connections and create opportunities for collaborative creative projects.

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