I am delighted that  Don’t scribble me out will be shown as part of the wonderful Project AfterBirth exhibition.

Helen Sargeant, Don't scribble me out, Digital Print, 25cm x 25cm, 2014

Helen Sargeant, Don’t scribble me out, Digital Print, 25cm x 25cm, 2014

30 international artists. One ground breaking new exhibition.

EXHIBITION: Project AfterBirth
GALLERY: White Moose
DATES: Sat 3 Oct 2015 – Fri 13 Nov 2015
TIMES: Tuesday – Saturday 11 am – 5 pm
LOCATION: White Moose, Moose Hall, Trinity Street, Barnstaple EX32 8HX

The triumph of new motherhood. Stillbirth. Full-time fatherhood. Single parenthood. Miscarriage. Bringing up a child near a warzone. Bilingual speech development. Postnatal depression. Infertility. Adoption. 

These are just some of the themes dealt with in the 39 works of art showcased as part of Project AfterBirth; the first ever international exhibition on the subject of early parenthood, launching at White Moose gallery, UK, this October.

Each of the 39 works in the exhibition – which spans across the visual, performance, literary, film and digital arts – were made in the 21st century and represent the personal pregnancy, birth or new parenthood experiences of 30 international contemporary male and female artists. Due to the lingering taboo status of parenthood in the contemporary art world and its perceived inferiority as a subject, most of the works have never been shown publicly before.

In spite of Project AfterBirth‘s tight parameters, an international open Call For Artists that took place this Spring resulted in more than 150 works from all over the world being submitted for consideration.

In addition to Mila Oshin and Kris Jager, Project AfterBirth’s exhibition’s selection panel members included Martha Joy Rose (Museum of Motherhood, New York, USA), Helen Knowles (The Birth Rites Collection, Manchester, UK), Francesca Pinto (The Photographer’s Gallery, London, UK), and Stella Levy & Julie Gavin (White Moose, Devon, UK).

At times hilarious and at times deeply moving, the exhibition stands to leave a lasting impression on parents, but will also resonate with anyone in terms of their own individual birth and childhood journeys. The exhibition is also a first in demonstrating the profound influence pregnancy, birth and new parenthood experiences can have on the practice of 21st century female and male artists.

Project AfterBirth is the brainchild of Exeter based artist/curator/husband & wife duo Mila Oshin & Kris Jager (a.k.a. Joy Experiment) whose own birth and early parenthood experiences informed their new body of work PASSAGE, published/released this autumn as a poetry collection and music album.

Mila Oshin and Kris Jager said:

The contrast between the representation of pregnancy, birth and new parenthood in the media and our actual lived experiences is starker than ever before, and plays a big part in the increasing sense of isolation felt by 21st century parents. By seeking out and publicly displaying outstanding and highly personal contemporary works of art that reveal the many true faces of parenthood, we hope Project AfterBirth will make its mark in raising the profile of parenthood as we all really know it.

The Project AfterBirth exhibition premieres at White Moose gallery, North Devon, from 3rd October until 13th November 2015, with the aim to tour to a number of UK, European and USA art spaces and online platforms in 2016-19.

“Don’t scribble me out”

Don’t scribble me out is a self portrait. It depicts me as both mother and child. It sticks together two moments in time. It plays with ideas within my wider practice that are concerned with maternal ambivalence, vulnerability and the affect of the transition into motherhood on a woman’s identity. It is about the child that still lives inside, a child learning to mother or a child that has become trapped. Its about loss and a yearning for freedom, independence, a life before.

It utilises a family photograph taken by my father in1973 in which you can see I am happily balanced on top of my mothers shoulders. The felt tip pen drawing that I have carefully traced around, cut out and superimposed on top of the photographic image is by my son who was aged 4 when he drew it. In the drawing I am depicted shouting, you can see that my mouth is wide open. Marks from the drawing obliterate parts of my mothers face. I have scribbled her out.

I am interested in how lines can transmute feelings. When scribbling out my mothers face I was in fact thinking about my own invisibility as a mother and full time carer of a young child. I thought that the drawing by my son was really fascinating as it captured the sense of frustration and isolation that I felt whilst looking after him at home. I am silently shouting out or screaming from within the drawing. My voice is seen but not heard.

The title of this artwork comes from my mothers reaction to the work when she first viewed it. She felt upset by the image I had made and said please don’t scribble me out !


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