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'How not to Exclude Artists Mothers' Chloë Tinsley speaking at the launch of the book by Hettie Judah at TJ Boulting Gallery

Hettie Judah and Artist Mother Chloe Tinsley at TJ Boulting


Just over a year ago I was very privileged to speak at the launch of art critic Hettie Judah's book 'How not to Exclude Artist Mothers'.  I'm not sure who was more excited me or my child. It was a really crazy experience. A great moment in time, exposing the moment of transition from that time of constant nurturing to a slow opening up, and indeed more sleep!

I can barely watch myself speak, let alone listen to it.  I am however extremely proud of having taken a seat and spoken to the room at this moment in time. 

(This seat included sitting alongside fellow Falmouth artist Chloe Bonfield and the extraordinary Echo Morgan who I distinctly remember performing years previously at our Testbed1 when she was at the RCA.   What talent). 

I had no time to consider the nuances, facts, figures and policy, but I had much time to deeply feel things, to see things, indeed from a new perspective.  And what t I found was that there was a whole world out there of people tuned into their children.  Into being responsible for another human.  And to a mammalian self. Full of visceral hormones, connection and disconnection.  What a perspective.  The voice of the mother with the babe in arms is the voice we are missing from society.  Perhaps there would be more visual, literal, physical humanity in this world if this perspective were communicated and amplified. There is the glimpse to flow here; to being.  Accessed in multiple and different pathways, but here we find it.  

I have written a little on my experience.  This someday I will find a way to share. 

The perspective of the early mother gets diluted within our cultural frameworks of how we structure our daily lives, it can be jarring, perhaps staccato, and not able to fit within our understanding.  Give it space and what might happen?  The question is, should it come with a no sleep, sleep-deprivation-is-real disclaimer?!

From my perspective, official policy aside, I have found some people I have worked with since to be extraordinarily accommodating on a progressional, professional level.  My own expectations of my self have been the last things to shift perhaps, and I have been less mindful of expressing positive intent alongside time restriction boundaries.  

I have often found also, with our constant ability to touch base with people; that the reality is really not a choice based one for the Mother. When with your child, children or people you are responsible for: you are with them.  Not with your social media account, your inbox or your website. This does not negate who you are as an individual person, or your experience of the world. It is very hard to voice the experience of the Artist Mother, quite literally because there is very little time to do so. When you do have childcare to whatever degree works for you (in all the different nuanced reasons there), it is easier to slot back into the patriarchal framework, and get on with 'the work', without the perspective. A different voice. A distinct voice.  

Perhaps this is why it has taken me over a year to touch base with this moment in time.  My ability to do 'deep work', to keep things moving, to put on a very large solo show and release my collection for experiential viewing, critique and sale.  Time. 

The more artist Mothers (and artist Fathers) I speak to, the more I realise this is very common.  Do I choose to communicate what I have done, or do I choose to do. 

How is my work affected?  Well, seeking the sunrise or sunset are two critical times when it is very hard to be away from your child. On many different levels.  

When I was filmed painting the sunrise on the Helford, this was the first time I had actually seen the sunrise from outside for over a year and a half. It was emotional, joyful and so very brilliant.  To connect.  To translate.  To be.  Just me.  To paint. 

This film is upcoming.  Scroll below to play trailer. 



Short pre-release film of CHLOË by Arran Busk.