My children are no longer living at home but of course you always worry about them. Perhaps, or at least in part, because of my anxiety for them, I felt driven to try and make sense of the lockdown and to interpret the safety instructions we were receiving.
“But your baby is fine.”, is what I heard a lot after I gave birth to my first child, and of course that is what was important. It was not an overly dramatic birth, actually it was quite the norm. I planned an all natural birth and it developed into a c-section. So maybe I should just shut up and be happy because my baby is fine. Maybe its all because my generation is not used to those kind of experiences. Nevertheless, I needed to work through it, feel and understand what happened there. So I began to photograph myself and relive the hours of birth.
I’m heavily pregnant. Heavy, as in the weight pressing from outside is also now pressing out from within. I’m transformed into border. Locked down, locked in. The body pressed away from itself, transformed into extreme manifestations of surface. My navel creeping into contested space … 1.2, 1.3 metres from my neighbour? I don’t know.
Tea with MAM. Studio Interview with Jessica Timmis. 18th November at 11am with Helen Sargeant.
had pretty much no experience of being a mother pre-COVID-19 as while England was entering its first lockdown, I was entering my third trimester.
Creative Brief article about MAM: Issue One: Stay at Home published in The British Journal of Photography.
We are still in the middle of a pandemic, we are still all staying at home, I am still cuddling my cats, counting my blessings and speaking as regularly as I can to my mum on the phone. My youngest son is back at school, my eldest son is working away from home recording new music, my husband is busy working at the computer in the tiny bedroom upstairs and the washing machine is chugging through another load but still this new normal feels far from that.
It’s a grey, misty October morning and I’m in a zoom planning meeting with Helen for the next issue of Maternal Art Magazine. My new position of Production Assistant feels like I’m stepping into unknown territory, but there’s a strong sense of togetherness as we discuss the other unknown territory such as what we will do with the next issue, and also the worldwide unknown territory of trying to cope with all that living during a pandemic brings to us. It’s cold here in my little flat and I reach for a blanket from the sofa; Helen reaches for hers too. We laugh as we see each other huddled in our blankets.
HERA was completed as we entered COVID-19 lockdown in March this year, 2020, at which point the entire nature of giving birth changed. Suddenly women and birthing people’s choices were limited in new ways. Some were unable to have the home births they wished for, others gave birth in hospital car parks, too afraid to go inside. The presence of birth partners was highly controlled, and, in some instances, not permitted at all. Often partners were allowed to be present only when labour was ‘established’ and were sent home when the baby was born. Some of these practices remain in place now.
I have been having a conversation with Japanese Instagram artist @hdkzkony, who asked me for a picture taken during the timeframe of Japan’s declaration of a state of emergency; April 7th to May 25th. He or she is making around the globe record of ordinary moments in their Instagram friend’s lives, as the Pandemic unfolded in Japan. As I mentioned my Lockdown hair in the photo I sent, we had a conversation about the term we use, and the term used in Japan, “Self-restraint”, reflecting different cultural expectations. Have you been Locked down (Wild-haired, unwashed and resentful) or have you been Self restrained? Possibly somewhere between.