Monday, August 18, 2008

A bit of a rant

The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood by local writer Rachel Power, has just been released through Red Dog Publishing. Each chapter of the book is basically a transcript of the author's conversation with an artist on the topic of balancing a creative life with life's other creations - children. I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend this book - mostly because I feel quite conflicted by it!

Reading it made me feel - relief that my struggles are quite common to mother/artists and joy at seeing them discussed in text; admiration for an amazing array of talented, intelligent and articulate artists and fascination, wonder and joy at the different effects parenting has had on their creativity; but also a slight cringe at the book's indulgence. Don't get me wrong, I really did enjoy it, but I think most of the issues discussed are faced by all working mothers and... well... it was maybe just an opportunity for a good old whine. Which is fine by me, very cathartic and possibly essential for survival, but a whine none the less.

The thing that really stood out for me was when Helen Bodycomb (an amazingly talented mosaic artist from Melbourne) responded to a query about being
"taken seriously as an artist, and not just a community craftsperson" by stating that "if you are straddling that high art/craft divide you conceal the fact that you've got a baby." This statement horrified me but also rang true. I do find in certain situations I will consciously not promote the fact that I have a child. But I am very proud that my personal identity is defined in two parts -artist and mother. This blog is mostly dedicated to the former but just to maintain some personal balance and truth, here is my beautiful son Finn:

Probably not the last I will say on the matter,
but it will do for now!!


Shannon Garson said...

Oh my God Sophie,I know what you mean! It's so horrible that the greatest thing in my life by a long way isn't cause for respect in the art world. I'd love to email you about this a bit more.

carole epp said...

I find peace in knowing I'm not alone feeling conflicted, but still would like to find a way to get beyond the wining as well. We need more positive chatting about this. I posted a short story about my latest attempt to make work, perhaps you'll find it funny:

Rachel Power said...

Hi there Sophie. I hope this doesn't seem like a horribly conceited thing --to respond to a post about your own book(!), but I felt compelled not only to say thank you for reading and promoting The Divided Heart. But also to say that lots of people have asked me if the same issues aren't there for all working mothers, and I think plenty of them are! I certainly don't want it to alienate non-artists, as I think we're all creative in different ways. It's just that there are lots of books out there on working mothers, and I wanted to explore the art angle. Also I hope you didn't find it only a whine! One of the things I liked about meeting the artists featured is how many of them also espoused the benefits of being a mother to a creative life. Anyway, I hope that doesn't sound defensive--I really do appreciate your engagement with the book and love your blog, which I've been checking out for some time... (And your son, Finn, is indeed gorgeous!!)