How are artist/mothers continuing to create through the COVID-19 crisis?

Helen Sargeant, White Kitten, Boobs and Kisses, Digital Drawing, October 2020
Helen Sargeant, White Kitten, Boobs and Kisses, Digital Drawing, October 2020

What do we do next? Where do we go from here?

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.

My facebook feed has been full of artists angry with the government for suggesting that they retrain …f**k retraining art is what we know, its our livelihoods, our life’s work.

I am huddled in a blanket speaking to artist Jo Parker the new production assistant for Maternal Art via ZOOM,. We are muddling our way through how to move forward with MAM, making plans and notes and exchanging stories under a foggy cloud of autumn in the north of England, and the imminent threat of further localised COVID-19 lockdown restrictions due to the rates of infection rising. I can’t quite believe we are in October already…that the leaves are falling, the days shortening, the cold creeping in.

Constrained. Constricted. Confined. Inside our homes all the time, unable to step inside another persons home, readily see friends and relatives. Some things have changed though, the schools have reopened so me and my son are readjusting to the early mornings and we keep washing our faces with water and opening the windows and welcoming in the cold air to wake ourselves out of our slumber.

So much has happened this year that is completely outside of our control, and I can honestly say without art, books, music, tv, film, without CULTURE I would have become very sad and bored. I have been binge watching TV with my son, transported into the world of Cylons and humans living together on the Battlestar Galactica travelling through time, space, ethics, religion and politics. Each evening I look forward to cuddling down with him on our sofa and watching the next episode and we are almost at the end of the entire series. I am not sure what will replace our shared love of this sci-fi series.

I know I need to get back to art making but it’s a struggle, I have found myself lacking in energy, I am feeling uneasy, on edge I cannot settle. I am lost. Scribbling notes, looking for something, I don’t know quite what. I flit from one idea to the next, subversive embroidery, drawing, trying to find the inner strength to tackle another funding bid. Nothing comes easy. I am achieving very little. One mark and then another, its all I can muster. After completing 7 months of constant child-care and working hard to produce Maternal Art Magazine, maybe this is an inevitable pause, its hard to keep on making and creating and feeling motivated against a backdrop of depressing circumstances.

Art is a big comfort blanket, it warms my heart, nourishes my soul. It makes the world a richer place.  Art helps me to continue, it gives me hope. Art is a space that enables me to feel free, to process complex emotions.

Want to write for the Maternal Art blog?

How are artist/mothers managing to survive?  Are you managing to keep making art and if so how? How can we support each other through this crisis?

Maternal Art would love to hear from other artist/mothers.

If you would be interested in writing a blog post to be considered for publishing on the Maternal Art website please email maternalarthome@gmail.com with the subject heading Maternal Art Blog Post Guidelines and we will send you guidelines to help with your submission.

The deadline for submissions to this round of call outs is Monday 30th November 2020

*Please be aware that Maternal Art is currently an unfunded art project and therefore we will respond to your email as soon as we are able.

To find out more about Helen Sargeant’s arts practice see www.helensargeant.co.uk

By Helen Sargeant