Lisa Evans on her "Motherhood is..." project
Artist and Mum Poet Club member Lisa Evans tells us about her "Motherhood is..." lockdown project and how she published the accompanying book.
Inspired by the comic strip ‘Love is….’ by Kim Casali, the idea for Motherhood is… was conceived in 2013 and my intention was to collect women’s experiences of motherhood to present a wide range of experiences. I spoke to mothers face to face about what motherhood meant to them. I then printed their responses onto baby clothes made of parchment paper which exhibited in galleries and shop windows.
Over the past few years, I’ve been getting my head around my 21 year old son leaving home. He was due to move out at the end of 2020, but this was brought forward when lockdown began because he began work as a paramedic and I needed to shield due to being on an immune suppressing treatment for MS.
Whilst coming to terms with my son leaving home, I thought about how other mothers must be feeling at that time. Single mothers, pregnant mothers, mothers of children who had grown up, mothers who lost their jobs and mothers with health conditions. It felt natural to resurrect Motherhood is…, this time asking mothers to share their experiences of mothering during lockdown.
The process usually involves speaking to people about their personal experiences either face to face or during workshops. Due to the pandemic, this wasn’t possible. Confidentiality is also a huge priority in my projects so I set up a private Facebook group where I could invite other mothers to share their experiences of this difficult time. I wanted to create a space where women could share their experiences openly and support each other, if needed.
I asked mothers to write a sentence using the phrase Motherhood is…, whilst reflecting on the highs and lows that the pandemic has caused and their feelings about motherhood. My aim was to collect the same number of sentences to the number of days we were in the initial lockdown. I was pleased by the positive response and support that I received from individuals (both artists and non-artists), Facebook pages and groups throughout the UK and abroad. Over a few months, I collected 92 sentences.
Some of the participants wrote long poems in response to the ‘Motherhood is…’ prompt, however for aesthetic and practical reasons, I edited them to short sentences, whilst adding some quotes alongside them. I included portrait drawings by participant’s children as well as monoprints and sketches by artists who are also mums.
The themes and issues explored in my work are always inspired by personal experience or about something I feel passionate about. I decided to collaborate with the PANDAS foundation UK to donate profits from book sales to support the work they do supporting mothers with maternal mental health difficulties.
I’ve been meaning to make a book for a number of years now so I decided to self-publish a book and make it a reality. My book making skills are limited so I chose to use a trade book template on Blurb to help with the design process. It was helpful having it in the bookstore since it allowed participants and buyers from abroad to easily purchase a copy.
It’s been scary and exciting at the same time, however, I’ve loved the challenge of self-publishing a book and plan to do more in the future. I’ve also loved seeing the Facebook group grow and reading the experiences of other mothers. It’s been heart-warming to see how open the mothers have been with one another and blown away by their responses.
To buy a copy of the "Motherhood is..." book please visit Lisa's Etsy page here: