Ebor Studio, Littleborough  8th- 22nd March 2013

Sargeant makes work about the female body and her experiences of mothering. The milk and the blood, is an exhibition of her recent  drawings, photography, sound, video and performance work.

We are born and we make marks through the vapour of our first breath, through our first excrement and from the saliva of our mouths enclosing around our mothers breasts.

Helen Sargeant

Recent drawings explore pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding. A visual language of marks, gestures, signs, symbols and icons express ideas of loss, trauma separation, attachment and connectivity. The schematic mother represented in her drawings becomes a vessel, a place of holding.by ink and watercolour into paper refer to the body leaking fluids; blood, amniotic fluids, meconium, urine and milk. Rapidly drawn lines on colour paint swatch paper record the body, the passage of time, a woman’s dreams, fears and desires.

Sargeant’s art works counter to idealised representations of motherhood such as religious iconography of the madonna and child, instead she works with everyday narratives of mothering; cuddling, cooking, playing, cleaning, bathing, reading, laughing, crying, blowing noses, sorting, tidying, organising, maintenance….

Intimate documentary photography depicts Sargeant breastfeeding  and gazing at her children as they sleep. A series of photographs records a group of mother’s pregnancy food cravings shared via Facebook . Sound recordings capture a baby cooing and a mother soothing her child to sleep. In Stay and play we see Sargeant collaborating with her 3 year old son to create discrete works that explore the physical body of the mother and the child playing and interacting within the home.

In Higher Riser collaborates with her eldest son Syd to re-imagine Sylvia Plaths poem You’re rock song. Plaths words use the metaphor of bread rising to represent the womb of the pregnant narrator.

Dust Bread is the result of a performance whereby Sargeant bakes bread from the dust in her vacuum cleaner. Dust from her home contains the remnants of her families bodies,  skin, hair as well as the detritus of living, sweet wrappers, sellotape, feathers from sofa cushions, cat hairs,  food dropped on the floor, small plastic pieces from the children’s toys.  The performance uses the kneading process as mark making, the dough is grey and cuts Sargeant’s hands as she works it, the resulting loaf is heavy and hairy.

Milk on Rocks documents a performance whereby Sargeant scrubs a rock on the yorkshire moors near her home with a bucket of cow’s milk.  The milk makes a large white mark and drips down the rough surface of the rock as she scrubs. With this work Sargeant connects the body of the woman with the landscape, reflects upon domestic tasks and that of milk production as human and milk production as cow to sustain and maintain life.