I have had a number of readers contact me almost apologetically to tell me that they initially avoided reading The Divided Heart because they had assumed it would be a negative take on motherhood when they enjoy having kids so much.
Fortunately, they have come to read it anyway — because it was recommended to them, or in one case because she was on the judging panel for one of those many prizes it didn’t get.
So it is lovely when someone gets in touch to say the book defied their expectations. And even more exciting when someone tells me the book inspired them to get moving with their own work, or even fed directly in to their art.
One example is this fab-sounding exhibition at the University of Florida. Four Squared is an exhibition by four artist-mothers and their experiences of making art amongst the chaos of raising young children.
Motherhood is also the theme of their art – “the push & pull of motherhood, domesticity and creativity. It is work created on an emotional rollercoaster, while burning the midnight oil, with the use of favours from friends, with the constant awareness of dishes to be washed.”
Most recently I was contacted by Iranian-born, British-raised, LA-based photographer and mother, Parisa Taghizadeh. She has made a series of works entitled “Mother”, one of which is in an upcoming show in New York, MOTHER/mother at the A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, New York.
MOTHER/mother is an exhibition of work made by artists from around the world within the years immediately following a pregnancy or the birth of a child.
If you are lucky enough to be visiting the US over the coming months, these shows look well worth a visit.
Just the other day, I came across a review of The Divided Heart that ran in the April issue of Art Monthly (check out the great cover!). Reviews by artists always make me nervous, so it was great to read Denise Ferris’s comment that the book made her feel “uplifted”.
“This book normalises the mother and artist combination by presenting women who continue to practise their craft in spite of social or their own confused expectations to choose one role over the other,” she writes.
“These women have continued to make work in spite of difficult personal experiences, and in spite of potent mixed emotions, self-doubt, confusion and exhaustion. To continue to work as an artist is not always as seamless as we hope. And that is the reality presented in this book.”
One criticism, though, was the lack of single mothers and gay parents in the book. Funnily enough, there are both in The Divided Heart. Perhaps it’s an indication of just how universal the issues around art and motherhood are that this wasn’t more obvious.