Artifact Motherhood May 2022 | Studying through still life

The beginning Of Mice And Men

It’s 9.05am as I write this and five whole minutes into the start of your first GCSE exam.

I honestly believe that I’m more nervous than you, which wouldn’t be too hard given that my approach to school exams at your age was wildly different. I chose a difficult route back then, one you know some of the story of. So here in this moment, I want to acknowledge how you’ve turned one of the most challenging times in your life into something focused and something I hope you are proud of. I certainly am.

It’s 10.00am and you’re halfway through, I hope you’re remembering to breathe, to slow things down and have faith that you know this.

We’re still in a “no photos please” phase and that’s still OK. You didn’t want me to record your hand, the hand that’s written and decorated a zillion flash cards with character quotes, themes and book analyses. Using a rainbow of colours from your extensive collection of highlighter pens.

You will already know that I’ve replaced your hand with mine in these photographs, so you know that I’m there, that I was always there.

11.00am and it’s pens down, no doubt friends will ask how you did and you will ask them. Which parts were easy, which themes did you each choose?

As I wander around our home, half packed away with wall markings ready for the building work one day, I see all the pop-up study spaces of yours. Some I’ve helped you create, some you’ve just landed into, in your unique freestyle kind of way. This unfair catapult, shows two years of unexpected unschooling to being flung into school exams. There is no doubt it has come with over-filled baggage.

But you continue to lead with wisdom, fairness and a will of steel.

I often wonder who is guiding who.

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 Kirsty Larmour and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.


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.


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 June 2021 | an ode to Barry

Barry Island Pleasure Beach

Home to the closest seafront fairground to us, cheesy ‘Cwl Cymru’ and coastal playground of my youth.

Over the decades, through travel and adventures far and wide, it’s a place I come back to time and time again. A place I rediscover new corners and delight in the timeless Welsh seaside charm I thought I knew all sides to, but still keep finding new treasures. A place I now pass the baton on to my daughter, who’s idea of heaven is a crisp ten pound note in her back pocket. To ride the fairground rides and while away the leftover pennies in the amusement arcades.

And don’t get me started on people watching, or even seagull watching as they edge closer to fallen chips and ice cream melts.

In recent years, it’s become the hometown of Stacey, before she met her Gavin, and you don’t need me to talk about what’s occurrin’ with Nessa and Smithy …for my overseas friends who may have escaped this comedic phenomena, just google Gavin & Stacey.

It is a place that has uniquely, quirkily and authentically kept its local charm, while keeping modest in its international fame. It is a place that brings simple and quintessential delight to all that amble there. All moods, all cultures and all generations. 40 minutes from home.

“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 May 2021.


Coast-to-Coast Project May 2021 | from the west to the east

Hastings Pier has always been my grounding point.

Over the 20 years we’ve been visiting our family in the east, the Pier is a place I’ve gravitated to. And this trip to Hastings to visit family, who we hadn’t since since last summer, saw me back there once more. Quietly observing what has changed and what has stood still during this time away.

It is the halfway point of everywhere I’ve come to know in this old faded and majestic seaside town. It’s my finish line for a morning’s run, the place we’ll meet friends and it’s where Jeanie and I will ‘roll the boards’ on skates, me taking tumbles and attempting tricks my 14-year-self shakes her head at in embarrassment. This activity has sadly been since banned there.

I’m thankful for the walks, for the delight of seeing the beach huts packed with curios and candyfloss, and to walk right to the end to gaze far, far out to sea.

Though on this day, I was thankful just to be able to people- watch and the gift of that 360 view of the beach, promenade and ocean.

For the chance to watch the lovers watching lovers, the banter of my fellow humans coming back to life after lock down, and for the familiar shrill, shriek and cry of the gulls. A place I’ve missed and a place I am happy to call my other home.

 

“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 Rimmell and experience her coastal adventure for May 2021.


Artifact Motherhood | a story of a pointe shoe fitting

As she sat waiting to try on her first ballet pointe shoes I remembered this…

“To Jeanie’s mum, please don’t forget Frankie (the toy elephant) for next week’s class, with love from Miss Angela.”

the note passed to me by my red-eyed, tear-stained three-year-old daughter, written by her ballet teacher after a rather fraught ballet lesson. You see, we had arrived in such a rush to realise we’d forgotten him. She walked into class Frankie-less, her weekly mascot that was allowed to sit with the other toys brought, quietly in the corner to watch the children practice their ballet.

The years have past and Frankie no longer gets to watch, but the no-nonsense love and commitment given by Miss Angela, to her dancing family, remains as strong as ever.

The saying ‘the show must go on’ has never been more true, as we went from a dazzling dance show last March 2020 into a global pandemic.

Now we can’t quite remember a time when there wasn’t a weekly zoom-ballet lesson in our living room, but she’s back into the dance studio once more. And less than a week later we find ourselves in the magical kingdom of a dance shop, being fitted for her first ballet pointe shoes.

The resilience of these kids continues to shine brightly, even through their protests of embracing a new-normal life. One which has gone from a virtual to a physical reality in a heartbeat.

So this day, this pointe shoe fitting, was much more than a mother’s honour to be part of such a key experience in her young dancer’s world. This was another huge step with her daughter, into unravelling from a locked-down world and proving that the show really must go on.

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 Jessie Nelson and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.


Seasons of Motherhood | Unquarantine Yourself

It is hard to believe that an entire year has passed since this photograph was made

and when I came into your room that morning, it was the first clue that I had of you having an idea, of how huge this time would be in your life.

The massive changes in your transition from tween to teen were inevitable in normal times. Transitioning when you’re locked down in a pandemic, having limited physical miles to explore and run to, is immense. Yet you’ve done this throughout with gusto, grace and the right amount of smart-mouthed attitude.

In a year of missed school days, when your right of passage has been to learn from all but rebel from most. You’ve closed your bedroom door a little more tightly, with a passing comment of “I don’t need your help, I can do it.” I dreaded to think about what those days might look like before they arrived, but since they have, you’ve continued to make me proud, even through my most frustrated days.

Lately we’ve began having conversations that start with “when we’re allowed to…” which feels exciting. But all the way through this time, with tempers fraying in moments and doors slamming with defiant tears the other side, there’s those sweet, sweet moments that start with “I’m happy / sad / angry and I don’t know why, I just needed to tell you.

There’s no rule book handed to mothers when they become mothers. There’s no rule book handed to teenagers when they become a teenager.

I could not be more proud of this force of nature, the one I call my greatest wonder, my greatest gift.

This is Artifact Motherhood; a collaboration of artists 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 artifacts we are leaving behind for our children and for generations to come.

This entry is the third 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 Devin Pixton and continue through all the artists until you get back to me.


Coast-to-Coast project | The Feeling of a Surfer

There’s a saying that goes like this…

‘Only a surfer knows the feeling’

I’ve got a trusty old surfboard, shaped by a New Zealand friend called Greg, who used to live in Cornwall. My first ‘made to measure’ possession, back in the day when our local Friday night pub was a three-hour drive deep into the wild southwest of Kernow. Just in time for last orders at the bar and in perfect time for a ‘dawnie surf session the next day.  Before family, before children and responsibilities and before pandemic restrictions. This beloved surfboard has seen some dings and bashes over the decades and even though it has unlikely been ridden at Olympian standards, it is mine and now shared with my daughter.

You see, she’s gone and got the surf bug.

Just a few years ago and between lockdowns last year, I’ve got to relive a part of those halcyon surfing days. As we checked the conditions and headed to our local break, to relive that catch-your-breath ocean scent as you paddled out over the waves and to the line-up. Inhaling sea spray and wave foam mixed with pure adrenaline. The only time I’ve ever really thought in the moment I’m in, respecting and surviving the power of the sea.  But now these days, wondering whether I’ll actually be able to get to my feet and feel that same exhilaration all over again.

Only I now get to look over and see this same younger-me expression on her face.

I also know that soon, we will go home after a surf day, telling tall ocean tales and fall asleep that night with aching arms, salty and happy.

“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 Jill Reidy and experience her coastal adventure for February 2021.


Artifact of Motherhood | An Unexpected Snow Day

A snow day’s tale

It’s a hard fact in our household that there is nothing in this world more exciting than pulling back the curtains and seeing the world around you in a carpet of white.

It’s also fair to say that we started this year in a bit of a funk. Without routine, then struggling to find routine and if I’m honest, a little tired of being grateful, trying not to look beyond each single day. So I’m right in saying that it’s my duty and pleasure to up the embarrassing mother stakes these days, right? That she only has to look to me for that little piece of reassurance!  So that no matter how old you are, no matter what global crisis is surrounding you now,

you will forever have permission from this camp, to act the big kid and do the happy ‘white stuff dance.

We shot some unique basket ball hoops, grabbed the old fin-less windsurf board and headed to a snow field, all in a morning’s hard play.

Grateful for nature’s own (snow) curve ball intervention right here.

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 artifact we are leaving behind for children and the generations to come.

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


Coast to Coast Project | The Severn Estuary

ESTUARY (noun)  es.tʃu.ə.ri

The wide part of a river at the place where it joins the sea

Leaning over the railings of the Severn Bridge, just five miles from our house and looking longingly southwestwards, to where I know the ocean waits.

It’s been an emotionally strange and longer than usual month, with January 2021 teaching me to dig deeper than ever I’ve known. To find the ‘new’ in the well-trodden paths around where I live.

I won’t deny, I’ve planned all sorts of covert dawn-breaking ocean jaunts inside my head – it would take around 40 minutes to drive to the rolling waves I need to be with right now – but Covid-19 shows no humanity and has left us all feeling terrified and risk-assessing literally every move we make.

The rules are made and there are fines in place, hospital scenes are no longer behind-the-scenes. It’s everything and anything to stop this. So I’m digging deep, finding the patterns, the dancing light and new ways of seeing on my walks from our home.

The Severn Bridge is the furthest point, and if I walk along this stretch of the coastal path, across the mudflats and long grasses, following the estuary back home, I’m those few steps closer once more to the sea.

“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 Ann Owen and experience her coastal adventure for January 2021.