THE ART OF PARENTING EXHIBITION

perinatal mental health support

Welcome to our Art of Parenting exhibition. 

We put together this exhibition to celebrate the end of our 40th Anniversary year, acknowledging not only the important work of our service but particularly the many clients we have supported and continue to support on their journey to recovery from Maternal Mental Health. 

On display is a range of creative works, each piece representing a powerful and personal response to the creators’ experiences of parenting. We feel that these pieces capture some of trials and triumphs, but also the overwhelming emotional pain and anguish that some can suffer during this life-changing phase. As such, we owe a huge heartfelt THANK YOU to those who courageously contributed their work; inclusive of our incredible clients, volunteers, staff and trustees, and a few parents beyond our service.

The visual and creative arts have been used throughout humankind’s history to make sense of, challenge and communicate internal and external experiences. For you we hope that the artwork and stories displayed here, will inspire you to reflect perhaps on your own experiences of parenting or being parented, and strengthen your empathy and awareness of Maternal Mental Health. 

As a charity we rely on the generous donations of the public to ensure we can continue to provide a high standard of care to families across Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire. Any donation you can offer will be gratefully received. You can do this by clicking the donation button at the bottom of the page.

Please enjoy the exhibition!

Curated by Chloë Spindlove (Lead Art Psychotherapist and Therapies Coordinator at Mothers for Mothers)

Lizzy Wilkins

Titles:
1st: Cut
2nd Gloop
3rd Hollow
4th Textbook

Medium: Poetry and mixed media – paper, watercolour pencil, and cartridge paper

About these pieces:
Lizzy began writing poetry after becoming a first time parent during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic (April 2020). After the birth of her son, Lizzy experienced severe postnatal depression and anxiety. As a result, she struggled with bonding and attachment towards her baby. After being admitted onto a Mother and Baby Unit, Lizzy began writing poetry and drawing as a way to process and express the emotions and experiences she was living through. Writing became an outlet and a release; a way for her to articulate her experiences in a way she was unable to in any other form. She now uses her work as a platform to raise awareness of maternal mental health and wellbeing. Lizzy’s main focus is poetry, although this is often produced alongside images

Alicia Ridley

Title: Untitled

Medium: Mixed media

About this piece:
This is a piece that incorporates several pieces of the boys art work plus a 20 minute response to drawing something that represented Family from the Art Therapy Foundation course. So it’s a mixed media piece of pencil sketches, pastels and collage and acrylic. I added Sams first shoe and Zac’s latest School shoe. The nest is cushioned with Guinea Fowl feathers – the Zimbabwean connection, where the adventure began! Having the space to reflect on my family now the boys are almost both flown feels pretty ironic as thats whats I craved when they were little. Although I worried that having a mum with ME meant their lives were limited, looking back at the number of adventures we still had together does offer me some level of peace.

Suzy Stollery

Title: Never Let Go

Medium: photography

About this piece:
I took this photo whilst walking on a beach in Cornwall during a holiday with my husband and daughter. I had an overwhelming feeling of love and happiness in the moment as my daughter gripped my finger tightly whilst trailing a piece of seaweed along with us. You can see the whiteness of the bones from both our fingers as the bond and grip was so tight. In that moment I also had an immense feeling of overwhelm of the journey of motherhood. 6 months later I was diagnosed with PTSD connected with Birth Trauma. The complicated emotions connected with maternal mental health are never far from the surface.

Jude Lawson

Title: May 2012

Medium: photography

About this piece:
This field represents joy for me in a time of deep perinatal anxiety.  Soon after my son was born I became anxious about his naps and as my anxiety increased we became caught in a loop of my anxiety fuelling his difficulty to sleep and vice versa.  I became reliant on driving him to sleep and would often find myself driving for hours. In May 2012 I came across a field of rape seed in full flower. It’s golden light literally lifted my heart from the deep and heavy place it had been existing. I drove past the field many times over the next month and credit it as being a joyful moment in a really hard year.

Nadia Thornhill

Title: Motherhood

Materials: unspecified

About this piece:
The painting is inspired by the work of Tom Hammick and illustrates what motherhood means to me. The inhabitant of the painting is a mother who is strong, hardy and in tune with nature. The enormity of the trees compared with the figures is an attempt to convey the overwhelming task motherhood is, and the occasional sense of loneliness in a forest. There is a magical element to the rich blues, like stumbling across a forest floor of bluebells and a playfulness with the naive simplified trees. The mother is encouraging her child along with a supportive hand – before becoming a mother, one’s heart is in their chest and the next minute it is running around on two feet which is terrifying and all one can do is be there for their child.

Anonymous

Title: Untitled

Materials: Mixed Media – ribbon, old book pages, paper, printing ink

About this piece:
I made this banner when my first baby was going through a very tricky time with sleep (and therefore so was I!). It’s a phrase I say to myself when I need to dig deep and find strength from somewhere, which felt like a help and a comfort at the time and helped me to get through the day. I now have three coloured dots tattooed on my wrist that symbolise the three words to give me strength when I need it now and in the future.

Claire Bassett

Title: Proud Momma Moment

Materials: Acrylic paint on paper

About this piece:
This moment is of us crabbing on a pontoon whilst on Holiday in Dale, Pembrokshire. A destination I have been visiting with my family since I myself was 8 months old. I looked back at the photo of this moment and looking at myself with both my children in action rather than posed photo suddenly gave me a clear perspective of what I have achieved and makes me proud of the mum I have become.

Sophie Porfirio

First poem: Lockdown Mat Leave
Second poem: Off the Charts

Medium: Poetry

About these pieces:
In the early few months of motherhood, whilst grappling with breastfeeding and COVID lockdown, I was particularly inspired by Hollie McNish’s book Nobody Told Me. I hadn’t engaged much with poetry in the past, but her unpretentious style and honesty about parenting really spoke to and inspired me. Before I knew it, I was drafting poems at crazy hours of the night (during the night feeds!) and found it to be an invaluable outlet to get through those early newborn days.

Natalie Kitching

Title: Motherhood and Me

Materials: Poetry

About this piece:
This poem encapsulates a time where I was at my most vulnerable and raw. I suffered acute postpartum anxiety after giving birth to my little girl. It was a lonely time and I really felt quite helpless. Writing poetry helps me get all my thoughts out onto paper and process what I’ve been through. Writing evokes all of my senses and I remember the sights, sounds and smells from those early days after birth. The poem bears witness to my journey and it is somewhat cathartic to see it on the page.

Lucy Whittle

Title: My car is broken; I got lost and was late for my job interview; it’s cold, we’re waiting for a bus; we’re going to miss swimming; and Freddy needs a wee, but we didn’t cry, and we even sang songs

Material: Clay and glaze

About the piece:
I have days with my toddler when I feel so overwhelmed, I lose capacity to contain my own emotions

Other days I am able to manage my own responses to the world and can support him when he feels too small for his emotions (which is often, as he is quite small). On these days I feel big enough for both of us.

My work on myself, with the help of therapy, has increased my capacity to contain myself and hold my son, literally and metaphorically. I can hold onto all the stuff, without it spilling all over my child.

This pot is a testament to my capacity to contain my feelings. It is a useful pot for putting things in

Josie Shinn

Title: Is it now?

Medium: Poetry

About the piece:
I wrote this in July this year when I was almost 42 weeks pregnant and waiting (not so patiently!) for any signs of labour starting. I was exhausted, heavy, emotionally drained and really worried about being induced and my labour being medicalised. Our little one arrived two days later by emergency c-section. This poem captures a time of sleeplessness and all my feelings of anxiety and hope combined.

Sapna Boden

Title: Doing it all in lockdown

Medium: Photography – selfie taken by Dilan, oldest son

About this piece:
This is me being a full-time mum while working from home, home-schooling the oldest and providing play opportunities for the youngest!

No filters used, this is us!

Emily Way-Evans

Titles:
1st: My Girl
2nd: Thought
3rd: I Didn’t Call

Medium: Poetry

About these pieces:
After taking part in a writing course for new mothers I found myself drawn to writing poetry as a therapeutic outlet during a tough period of postnatal depression. Sharing my work in Instagram I found a lot of other mothers relating to my words, which came as a comfort, especially during the first lockdown months when parenting for many was extremely challenging. These poems are a few choice pieces which I feel represent both my personal struggle with postnatal depression and also the underlying guilt I think many mothers struggle with when it comes to their own mental health.

Kerrie Banwell

Titles:
1st: Rory on the trampoline
2nd: Blue

Medium: poetry

About this piece:
I wrote these 2 poems during lockdown, with the support of an online group. I am interested in the issues that surface years after I thought I had boxed those feelings away. 

I suffered with my mental health after the birth of both my children and find writing helps me deal with the guilt and anxiety I still carry with me.
Blue is about watching my baby sleep and the overwhelming feelings of responsibility and wonder.
Rory on the trampoline was written about how I see myself as a mother, that my son might notice that I’m no good at motherhood.

Thanks for reading. 

Charlie Dorman

Title: Motherhood

Medium:
Scupltures – wire armature, Modroc & Plaster of Paris
Collage – ink and watercolour paper

About these pieces:
I made these sculptures when I was still at school and studying life drawing at A-Level. I had recently terminated a pregnancy at a young age – it was a decision I didn’t take lightly and one that I still question often, and it’s an experience that informs my professional practice as a doula. Despite my circumstances this mother stands tall, with exaggerated legs so she can survey everything that’s happening from above. For me it’s all about her role as a fierce protector but it also nods to her frailty and vulnerability.

Creating things – sculptures or 2D – feels like an important part of me. It’s been suppressed for what feels like necessity, sometimes for years at a time, but as soon as I resume making things I feel more switched on and I am certain that I am a better, more engaged parent as a result.

Anonymous

Title: k1,p1 (knit one, parent one)

Medium: double knitting yarn

About this piece:

I made this scarf over a two year period after my oldest daughter was born and I was struggling with my mental health – I had never knitted before so this, like parenthood, was a new venture. Looking at it now, learning to knit has become a metaphor for learning to parent; but really how to cope with failure. The languages I didn’t speak and struggled to decipher, the dropped stitches, her tears I could not soothe, my tears that I could not stop, rage, frustration, inadequacy, self-imposed and real isolation, and wanting to quit. It all overwhelmed me and I became disconnected.

Growing the scarf and our bond required me to grow some self-compassion; in accepting failure as inevitable and human, I could be kinder to myself and more present with my feelings and experiences. I still continue to drop stitches and have parenting glitches but like most things these can be repaired.

As a charity we rely on the generous donations of the public to ensure we can continue to provide a high standard of care to families across Bristol, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire. Any donation you can offer will be gratefully received.

If any of the work viewed has impacted on you or allowed you to notice that you may benefit from accessing support, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@mothersformothers.co.uk. If we cannot help directly, we can certainly give you the details of someone who can.

Phone Helpline

0117 9359366