Seasons of Motherhood April 2022 | the toys we have on us

Delving back into the family archives, not just hers but mine. When I saw her defiantly clutching Fiona from Shrek, on her last day of meithrin (nursery) before starting school, I knew there was a similar look in the eye from me. I delved further back and found one, a little younger then she is and clutching what looks to be an Elf from the Shelf? With that same look, one I see seasoned and well practiced from both of us these days. One I hope she uses wisely and not just in teen-aged stubbornness.

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This is Artifact Motherhood; a collaboration of artists and mothers from around the world, who have come together to share our stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Through our writings and visual records, we want to create memories that are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artefacts we are leaving behind for our children and for generations to come.

This entry is the fifth in a series called “Seasons of Motherhood” and is meant to be one picture and one caption that represents our current journey/season of motherhood.

Please visit the next artist in our blog circle, the talented Rose Dedman and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.


Seasons of Motherhood February 2022 | my teen teen-self and me

At the beginning of this year, I stood eye-to-eye with my feisty and rebellious teenaged-self, telling her that I was no longer ashamed of her.

In recent months, I’ve tried keeping her apart from my 15-year-old daughter.  Now as we navigate our way through some turbulent mother-daughter times, I’m beginning to honour her, to recognise that she was a pinnacle survivor of some tricky times I experienced around this same age.

I am beginning to acknowledge these stories and feeling that she deserves to meet her. Slowly.

J and I are still in a ‘no photos’ phase, so as I continue to create new ways and self portraits to fill our now-family album, I’m faced with this girl (me right here) stood between her metaphorically broad-shouldered parents. And I thank her, for indirectly guiding me and my now-15-year-old daughter.

Photographed here by my younger sister.

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This is Artifact Motherhood; a collaboration of artists and mothers from around the world, who have come together to share our stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Through our writings and visual records, we want to create memories that are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artefacts we are leaving behind for our children and for generations to come.

This entry is the fourth in a series called “Seasons of Motherhood” and is meant to be one picture and one caption that represents our current journey/season of motherhood.

Please visit the next artist in our blog circle, the talented Diana Hagues and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.


Discarded With Honour | The Artists Collaboration

Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken.” Orson Scott Card
Discarded With Honour is a photographic project which began for me at the start of 2021. I’d spent the best part of the year before, looking around our house at the hoards of stuff we had collected over the decades. I found myself thinking about the significance and meaning of these objects that are so familiar, yet by stepping back and looking at them more curiously reminded me of their own story, of how and why they came to be here.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
What struck me most is how many of these objects can stop bringing us the joy they once brought, that we can forget the reason why. So I chose to give some of them a ceremonial goodbye through stories and photographs, to reconnect with them to be able to let them go. I started with some of my own possessions, like my grandmother’s old hand towel from her home after she died, the bath toys my daughter no longer plays with. It became more of a social documentary after this, where I began photographing others, like Leo beginning their non-binary journey and disconnecting with the clothes they no longer want to wear.                                                                                                                                                                                                     
I’ve always wanted to collaborate on this project with some of my artist friends, where many live around the world and we don’t get to meet easily in person.  I became curious about what they might share and want to discard. Or not to discard in some cases, about the objects that no longer serve them in life.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
This became our project for the month of December 2021. A weekly advent, if you like, about metaphorically letting go rather than gathering.
A place where we get to honour the objects we walk passed each day, or get brave in our sharing of stories with some rituals around some possessions that once brought joy and might now cause pain.
Some of these artists have shared a few of their stories below…

Back in the 80s, my parents had this telephone in their house. Eventually it got replaced with a cordless phone and was moved up into the office loft, where I used to sneak off and go to hide out. The telephone sat on a big wooden desk and I remember tinkering with the dial just to listen to the sound of it winding back, while placing the chunky handset to my ears. Its loud ring would make us jump out of whatever we were doing to rush to pick up the phone, and I would always anticipate it was some relative calling from Hong Kong.

Since this telephone has been in my possession, I have got it out for one time to use mainly to remind myself of its simple charm. I was curious to see if the children might play with it, but I think I fooled myself into thinking that they would be interested. Mobile phones/ WhatsApp/ FaceTime have replaced the way I/they connect with our friends and family nowadays. What would they have with the use of an old telephone?

I think someone else might appreciate its charm instead, so it’s time to put down the phone and say one last goodbye.

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Kyra  |  @fasophotography

I want to discard the noise in my head. Negative self talk. Images that should inspire but leave me anxious. My head is filled with the noise. Colors of blue and red blending into darkness. Escape in a bath. Unplug. Less noise. More time. Less noise. More books. Less noise. More creativity. The noise is still there.I must get rid of the noise.More God. Peace.

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Lizzie  |  @liztomo2

My favourite wine glass…broken.

It was my favourite because it was big…big enough so I could put plenty in before I flopped on the sofa at the end of the day when the house was quiet and I was done being Mum…and it meant I didn’t have to get up too soon to refill it.

As I get older, I can see that my relationship with alcohol is pretty broken too…it doesn’t serve me well and give me the life that the adverts all promise.  Having done extended alcohol-free breaks before, I know deep down that I much prefer the person I am without it.

Let’s face it… 2021 has given us many reasons to drink!!….but I need 2022 to be better.

My kids deserve the best version of me…and through that window, I can see a much better and happier life.

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Ann  |  @forage.create.love

I wrote you a letter today. Pouring my heart into ink on pages upon pages of paper. It’s the first time I’ve done so, allowing my heart to be heard and honoured. I felt physical sickness at the same time, my emotional centre, my solar plexus taking the brunt of it. It was a day of purging. Today I am releasing all the bad memories, the darkness, the unsaid words, the confusion, even the good memories and the happy contradictions that I have held in my body. I no longer need to carry them around with me.

Afterwards, the tears flowed and I could feel your presence around me, like a cloud, maybe this was the parts of you I let go. Maybe in setting myself free I set you free too. Now, the empty spaces within me, those spaces that I have freed, can finally blossom and bloom into something new & extraordinary.

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Wendy  |  @wendyalweyn

Christmas time is family time
I love everything about it
Grandma always made us clothes
As a child, I wanted bought clothes just like my friends
Now I wish I had the clothes she made me
Always made with love
This was the only time of the year we got new clothes
Now, every year, my girls and I buy new clothes for Christmas
Continuing on the tradition
And each year, when we put up the tree
We keep front and centre the ornament that adorned grandma’s tree – an elf, no longer able to hang
A tribute to my childhood
Where I stand, 5 years old, in my new clothes and the Elf on the tree next to me
Every year I think will toss away the Elf, but he still seems to find his way back

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Kirsty  |  @kirstylarmour

I’ve always been hard on myself with flowers, as if to buy them when I know they will die and be discarded is an extravagance I can’t afford myself, yet I know they bring me immense joy, and why deny that pleasure? So when we moved back to India I made a pledge to myself to embrace this joy. In India flowers aren’t a luxury, but a necessary part of everyday. They are part decoration, part worship and ritual, and they are discarded with ease as part of the process. And yet still it’s hard for me to let them go – I leave them withered in a vase, unable to put them in the bin, or dried and discoloured and hanging from picture frames, not yet consigned to the rubbish heap. I never want to let go.

They’re not a possession to own, but something transient that passes through our lives, still, something I hold dear. But maybe it’s the habits of how I treat myself that need to be released. And the flowers become symbolic. The beauty of flowers, and my reluctance to let them go…..

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Read more #discardedwithhonour stories by visiting the other artists who contributed here…

@ofelia_photo

@victoriaclarephotography

@monserrattakespics

@blacksandstudiosnz

@lisahuchen

@amydangerfieldphotography

@blimietphotography

Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken.” Orson Scott Card

Welcome to our #discardedwithhonour blog circle. This has been an artists’ collaboration throughout December 2021, giving celebration and honour to the possessions in our lives that no longer serve us. Sometimes these objects stop bringing us the joy they once brought. By giving them a ceremonial goodbye, through our stories and photographs, we get to reconnect with them. We get to let them go.

Please visit the next artist, the talented Ann Owen to hear about their experience over the past month.


Coast to Coast Project November 2021 | back to where I began

A full year of 12 monthly sea stories later

I find myself back to where I began. Only this time standing and looking across the River Severn to home in Wales.

It is hard to believe that a year has passed since I joined the Coast to Coast project, created and facilitated by documentary photographer and friend, Rachel Rimell. Casting my mind back to January 2021, locked in and longing for the sea. I’d take walks down to the river, heading up and down the Severn estuary just peaceful in the knowledge that it opened up to the coastlines I know so well, yet couldn’t visit back than.

So it’s only fitting that I end this year with a final sea story to the project, call it a near-full circle, as I stand at Portishead beach and look back Wales. To the spot I started at the beginning 2021.

Thank you Rachel, for a voice so needed. An ever-moving tidal space to share in a challenging year.

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh, from A Gift from the Sea.
Welcome to our Coast to Coast loop. We are a group of photographers from around the world, from timezones as far flung as Australia to Canada and in between, each with a different seascape. Coast to Coast aims to document our changing sea views and perspectives – both literal and philosophical – of what the sea means to us, month to month through the changing seasons. To follow the loop, go next to the talented Rachel Rimell and experience her coastal adventure for November 2021.


Discarded With Honour | Exploring Gender

Exploring Gender

It was only at the beginning of this year that Leo began to acknowledge that the gender they were assigned at birth didn’t feel right.

So when Leo offered me the gift to help them creatively explore a part of their non-binary journey, I knew it might be one of the most precious gifts I’d ever received. It became an open and sensitive dialogue between us, where there was no such thing as the wrong question. Only a space for honesty and the honour to give something visually back to them, in a place they connect with.

We had been talking for some time about how we might photograph this part of Leo’s gender exploration – looking for a way to celebrate and importantly acknowledge this time. They packed a rucksack filled with clothes and artefacts they now gravitate towards, as well as some clothing that despite holding such strong stories, they need to disconnect with. For the time being at least.

We headed to a forest in South Wales, where the waterfalls and branches from the trees became more symbolic than either of us envisaged.

We went with what felt right at the time and at one point of the day, as they waded into the water in a dress they no longer wear, all was silent as they let this part of their former identity go. I literally didn’t breathe in those moments.

It was only at the beginning of this year that Leo began to acknowledge that the gender they were assigned at birth didn’t feel right. This became the start of their journey, and it is by no means the destination.

“I had no clue that I was non-binary until a few months ago, in fact I barely knew what it meant, despite being a tentative member of the LGBT community. Each person’s journey is unique. It’s like trying to fit the puzzle pieces together then realising that they were never meant to fit, just throwing it all up in the air and making your own,” says Leo.

Although they have only recently begun having open conversations with others about their gender, Leo didn’t hesitate in wanting to support others by creating a safe space for people to question, express and explore their gender and sexuality. They created the Radical Curiosity course, which ran over four weeks in August this year. I feel this is especially wonderful, as Leo had only just announced their true self to the world, less than a month after I had spent the day photographing them in the forest.

A close friend of mine is currently supporting her 16-year-old, Jay, as they explore and communicate many feelings around their gender and anxiety.

“The only thing I ever want for my children is to be happy,” says Jay’s mum. “There have always been ups and downs in the parenting journey for so many of us. For me though, it’s essential that I support all and any challenges they face and that we keep talking and learning. The most important part is that we love ourselves and we surround ourselves with people that love us back equally.”

Having only recently shared this part of their journey with their own family, Leo now smiles while telling me that a friendly competition has begun in the family. Their mother might ask ‘Laura, can you make a cuppa please?’, to which their father will correct her with ‘Remember, it’s Leo now.’

I asked Leo what they might say to parents who want to help support their children through a similar experience. They tell me that it’s important for parents to remember that it’s completely fine to change, and not to question or doubt anything about their experience. They already know the most about this, they are the ones guiding, rather than the parents, especially as by the time they are getting to the point of talking about it, they’ve been through such a lot already. So don’t assume anything, give them space, and keep it open. Keep the conversation going, for example when you’re washing up together or while out on a walk. Be the safe space.

What neither Leo nor I realised about the day we spent at a waterfall in a forest, was that it would become a baptism for their new name. That tentatively walking into the river in a white lace dress, unplanned and undirected by me, was the visually symbolic moment that unlocked the language needed to express the next part of their journey.

Discarded With Honour is a personal photographic project with stories around the objects and possessions in our lives that no longer serve us. By giving them a ceremonial goodbye, we hope to let them go. This day with Leo was a disconnection of a loved-dress they no longer wear, as they connect more into their non-binary journey.

 

As featured in JUNO Magazine 

If you would like to hear more about my work, please email me HERE for a chat. I can also add you to my newsletter, if you’re happy to receive stories and updates from me from time-to-time.


Coast to Coast project | a slice of stormy light

A landscape that is always changing.

Matching my thoughts and ideas, giving new perspectives with new angles.

We had driven for over five hours from Wales, to visit family in the south east of England. So as the sun sank low and the storm chased us from the west, I found little pre-stormy slices of glorious evening light on this beach.

Where we ran around like loons while the wind howled and we felt released from the long endured traffic queues, now being in this coastal wilderness.

It’s a stretch of coastline that forever has a piece of my heart. Always changing, always giving of some much-needed freedom from the day-to-day grind.

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh, from A Gift from the Sea.
Welcome to our Coast to Coast loop. We are a group of photographers from around the world, from timezones as far flung as Australia to Canada and in between, each with a different seascape. Coast to Coast aims to document our changing sea views and perspectives – both literal and philosophical – of what the sea means to us, month to month through the changing seasons. To follow the loop, go next to the talented Marilaine Delisle and experience her coastal adventure for October 2021.


Artifact Motherhood October 2021 | No Photos Please

Can I photograph you?

I cannot quite pinpoint the exact time you started saying no, though it feels like it might be for much of this year by now. 

Looking through our family albums I notice that I don’t feature much. I know I’m there, you know I’m there, forever (silently) clicking away. It’s just in those years to come, when I want to think of you opening the pages and being able to see me really looking at you, knowing you.

Speaking into the gaps you may be missing at points of your life by then.

So I’m filling in these gaps right now. I’m turning every no, every first time in your life that I want to photograph you, into a self portrait.

So that one of us is there.

Until you are ready to say yes again. From your birthday morning, to the other weekend when you caught the train alone for the first time, to the quiet moments when the light is shining on you and I see something that irritates you now… but may just make you smile later.

 

Artifact Motherhood is a collaboration of artists/mothers from around the world. Sharing stories of the joys and struggles of our journey. Our hopes and dreams for our children. With little nuggets of wisdom here and there. These are more than photographs with dates written on the back. These are the artifacts we are leaving behind for our children and the generations to come.

Please visit the next artist in our blog circle, the talented Lauren Webster and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.


Coast to Coast Project September 2021 | a pier for all reasons

A pier always with reason throughout the seasons

We made a late summer pre-back-to-school trip, to visit our family in Hastings earlier this month.

I know I’ve mentioned this before… my draw to this pier. I honestly see and experience something new each time. Across the seasons, the way the light falls with the ever changing weather and the diversity of activities that are held here.

It is a magical place I always make a point of going to, ideally on my own.

 

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh, from A Gift from the Sea.
Welcome to our Coast to Coast loop. We are a group of photographers from around the world, from timezones as far flung as Australia to Canada and in between, each with a different seascape. Coast to Coast aims to document our changing sea views and perspectives – both literal and philosophical – of what the sea means to us, month to month through the changing seasons. To follow the loop, go next to the talented Marilaine Delisle and experience her coastal adventure for August 2021.


A morning with Masha Manapov | illustrator and designer

A photographic commission for Oh Magazine

Sometimes I imagine myself sitting by a giant window on a rainy day with a big mug of tea, two mongrel dogs by my feet, overlooking the Welsh hills while contemplating my craft…”

Masha is an award-winning illustrator and designer, who I got to engage in a little craftivism with one sunny morning in Bristol, for a commission with Oh Magazine

Born in Baku, raised in Tel Aviv, Masha has recently moved from Bristol to London and works on a range of diverse projects including branding, packaging, editorial and marketing campaigns. Though it’s her self-initiated side project, The Fine Print that got our hearts racing that morning. An environmentally-focussed project exploring the hidden life of the products we consume. It looks at the meaning and intention around buzz words such as ‘organic’ and ‘natural. ‘

So we quickly (temporarily) pasted posters up on a busy Bristol street.  All in the name of our craftivist photo shoot. With a little bit of traffic-dodging and answering the quizzical glances of the passersby thrown in for good measure.

She’s a passionate conceptual artist, whose colourful and textured imagery skirts the boundaries between reality and fantasy. I was also drawn to the connection we shared of exploring life’s curious moments and how we put ourselves into these scenes to become part of the story.

 

Oh Magazine Autumn 2021

Designed by Rosalind Howard

Sadly this is the final Oh Magazine, but you can still catch up with The Simple Things here

Instagram: @mashka.man

 


Coast-to-Coast Project August 2021 | the challenge of the journey

If you’d have asked me the day before we left, I’d have said no.

Our camper’s gearbox had definitely broken. And as chief engine fixer, know-er of every inch of our holiday-on-wheels, he was putting off the inevitable. To order almost non-existent compatible parts from far-flung areas of the world. To crawl under the van in all weathers, to get covered in three inches of engine oil to make our family trip happen.

It was like mother nature had pulled out all the stops with her August Moon nights, as we sat huddled around beach fires looking out to sea.

So when we arrived at camp, on a wild and beautiful stretch of the Pembrokeshire coastline in West Wales, it made all the adventure in getting there worth while. From getting up close to a resident cormorant in the same spot each evening, to walking both east and west along the headland and finding ancient Welsh treasures along the way.

This part of the world is a well-trodden and special pathway for us. And I honestly feel that when events come along and challenge a familiar way we do things, just sometimes it makes us open our eyes that little bit wider to the beautiful elements right there, all along.

“The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh, from A Gift from the Sea.
Welcome to our Coast to Coast loop. We are a group of photographers from around the world, from timezones as far flung as Australia to Canada and in between, each with a different seascape. Coast to Coast aims to document our changing sea views and perspectives – both literal and philosophical – of what the sea means to us, month to month through the changing seasons. To follow the loop, go next to the talented Marilaine Delisle and experience her coastal adventure for August 2021.