It Takes A Village – Models for Mother Artists



at ATELIER, STROUD – Sunday 23 April 2017 (10am-5pm)

Part of the SVA Site Festival 2017 (theme ‘Radio/Sound’)



Tickets, £12 (Contact us for bursaries) –  Get Tickets here

Sharon Louden in an interview with Hyperallergic said ‘it takes a village for an artist to really sustain their creative practice’. This resonates with the perhaps more widely recognised notion that ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.

At this symposium we will present, explore and discuss a range of models for sustaining mother-artists and explore how ‘the village’ can facilitate the role of the woman who seeks to sustain both an art career and children.

We hope that non-mothers, and non-artists, will benefit from exploring these models as well as artist-mothers, and we will draw on models from education, culture, and experimental arts practices.

Doors are open for coffee, teas

10:00 am Introduction by the WAAS
10:15 am Emily Joy: Disclaimer
10:25 am Session 1. The Mother House

Amy Dignam and Dyana Gravina

“If we do celebrate the work of women artists then we are creating a new language and we are getting people closer to this subject..we can reduce issues in society like birth traumas and post natal depression, the shame around breastfeeding in public”

(from a clip of Dyana speaking about how she came to form ProCreate )

 11:30 am Session 2. Lenka Clayton’s Artist Residency in Motherhood (ARIM)

– Sharon Bennett, Sarah Dixon

12:30 pm Session 3. Models for education:

Steiner, Emilio Reggio, Montessori, and others: what we can learn from education systems about adults and children working together

2:30 pm Session 4. Who Is The Village?:

– Nick Weir (Dad Camps and ‘Fathers Celebrating Daughters’), Martin Jakes, (Dad camps + mens groups)

Fathers, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles, Friends, Childcare Professionals and Everyone Else? What are the challenges of being around mothers and children? What works and what can we learn from each other? How can supporting and nurturing mother-artists benefit society as a whole?

3:30 pm Session 5. Art World

Sarah Bowden (Hardwick Gallery), Jo Leahy (sva) and Grace Bermingham (National Trust)

How is the work of artist-mothers represented in galleries, art fairs, on the market, what barriers are there, what could The Art World be doing and how could it change to allow artist-mothers fair representation?

4:30 pm Closing Event ‘Mother’s Day’ (1948)

–  experimental silent film by James Broughton (20 minutes) with live music performed by Uta Baldauf and Helen Alipaz.

Children welcome to this closing event.


We will run a creche at the neighbouring Lindens kindergarten, with childcare professionals and artists making work with the children for potentially broadcasting to the Site festival. We are looking for people to run short art events on the day with children. Please contact us if you would like to run a session with the kid.

Donation for the creche is very welcome. The donations will go to Isma and Hagar that will help out with the children and to The Linden’s Kindergarten, that has offered their space for the day.


Speakers and guests:

Dyana Gravina (ProCreate Project) is a conceptual artist, creative director and producer. She is the founder and director of the Procreate Project, a platform born from her pregnancy and the inspiration gained through it. Procreate offers practical support to women artists, enabling them to continue producing work during pregnancy and motherhood through a vast range of initiatives and interdisciplinary artistic productions. The focus is to work towards the recognition of mothers in society and the unique role that they have in the development of the creative industries, thus reducing gender inequality in different sectors.

Amy Dignam (ProCreate Project) is a visual artist, who’s work is about everyday life, identity, childhood memories and longing. Amy graduated from Central Saint Martins College in 2005. Amy is the founder and curator of the Desperate Artwives project, and co-founder of the Mother House pilot (September 2016)

Amy’s art practice explores the mundane and originates from the female body and its existence as a mother/wife/artist. Her work is mainly autobiographical – about the process of becoming identity-less and finding herself yet again in some strange foreign place- motherhood.

“Becoming a mother is a bit like dying. You can see your past life pass before your eyes, but unlike death, you get the time to analyze your own childhood, your own memories, your gains and your losses.”

Sarah Dixon, With a degree in Biology and experience working with Amazonian tribespeople, Sarah has developed an art practice without an endorsed art training. After having a baby in 2013 and encountering Lenka Clayton’s Artist Residency in Motherhood her practice has emerged as conceptual work that plays with the power structures enforced through myth, fairy tale and symbolic magic. Using traditional and digital methods and materials, Sarah often uses an evolutionary process of many accumulations of small actions to produce moving image and public collaborative art.
She is a founding member of the Women’s Art Activation System.

Martin Jakes has been involved in running mens groups, boys groups and Dads and Kids camps for twelve years, as well as helping successfully revive the men’s space at the Sacred Arts Camp. He is a trained teacher, having taught excluded teenagers for many years, and has completed the Elements UK facilitator training with Nick Eve. He is a parent of two children. He has recently been evolved the Sladebank Woods Forest School to be part of the mixed ability ‘Of Course We Can’ programme.

Nick Weir is a Stroud father. He helped to set up the Dads’ Camp network in Stroud and has been involved in several workshops to develop a boy-2-man transition process. Nick is also part of a network called Fathers Celebrating Daughters which meets regularly as a circle of men to build a social network of fathers and their families to help build a circle of ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’ who will be there for the children. Nick’s wider work is helping groups to build resilient communities.

Grace Davies – Grace is currently working as Contemporary Arts Programme Manager for the National Trust and has previously worked as Director of Visual Art South West and as a freelance curator and consultant in the visual arts. In these roles she has worked to support artists and to make art accessible to a broad public.

Sarah Bowden, – Sarah is currently employed as a curator and educator at the University of Gloucestershire. She has worked tirelessly over 25 years to nurture a bottom up arts ecology that supports the production and presentation of visual art in Cheltenham ( a surprisingly philistine town whose cultural life is dominated by well funded arts events). Sarah use to run and develop Meantime, a project-space located in central Cheltenham that supported the fragile contemporary art grassroots infrastructure of Cheltenham.

Jo Leahy – As a founding director of SVA Jo has played a major role in defining Stroud as a town for artists. Through her extensive networks in the artist-led and publicly funded art worlds Jo has advocated for and supported artists and the value of art for community and for individuals.

Designed and managed by Atelier partnership