A little while ago Rachel Powers wrote a book called The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood. I haven’t read it yet, because I’m yet to convince anyone to buy it for me, but I’ve read a few favourable reviews. Reviews from women who are grappling with the same issue: how the hell do you combine two all consuming and often mutually exlusive passions? How do mothers mark out time and space in their lives for creative work? Of course, all mothers in the western world think about paid work and childcare and mothering when so much of our paid work culture centres around childfree lifestyles, so there’s probably something there for non-artist mothers too. The thing about artist mothers is that they are likely to be doing a triple load – mothering, paid work and creative work – because creative work rarely pays the bills.
These are issues I was thinking about today when I skipped out of the car, leaving the Bloke and the Lad for a day of Boys Own Adventures (kicking leaves around the park, drinking babychinos, cooking dinner, that sort of thing) to attend my art class. This isn’t something I’ve done before, the art class that is (skipping out of the house is something I do reasonably regularly), spending money on improving my artistic skills isn’t something I’ve been able to swing for a long time. In preparation for the class, because I really really wanted to get my money’s worth out of being there with all the printing gear, I’ve been doing more drawing than usual. Trying to spend time with a few ideas and play with them after years of quickly sketching and then forgetting images all together. In the spirit of doing the art first, and the housework second, and perhaps more importantly, being honest about what that actually looks like in a real live house with a toddler, I took photos of the loungeroom that I wasn’t tidying before I started drawing. It has been tidied, and messed and tidied a bit since then, and not just by me, but for the record, sometimes it looks really messy and there’s nowhere to eat dinner.
It’s been worse too. And the table, which is out of view, was covered in painting things (the kid’s) and a ukelele. I could do a sort of illustrated version of A Room of One’s Own for the twenty-first century. My room of my own is also messy, but that’s my mess which is different and artistic and I wont hear a word against it. Not even from my Mum. She’s just jealous anyway. Ahem.
The product of all this wanton-ness? Wood engravings for the geek. Photographed, as is typical, at 11pm. The paper isn’t really yellow, it’s white.