Thursday, 19 January 2017

Live Art and Motherhood

Delighted to be included in this publication from the LiveArt Development Agency...
Live Art and Motherhood - a study room guide
researched and written by the artists,activists and academics Emily Underwood-Lee and Lena Šimić.

Mothersuckers Project

Mothersuckers is a project arising out of the collaboration between Zoë Gingell and Eve Dent, drawn from their personal and artistic responses towards motherhood and pregnancy, which have developed, into ideas for a new approach to their usual practice as artists.

There is a particular focus on the reappraisal of one’s own body, as a dual conduit of connection and separation, of oneself in relation to an ‘other’ imagined yet real being, growing within and the psychological and emotional connections involved within an essentially shared physical relationship.

"Since our meeting, we have found an exciting and enlivening point of discussion of ideas around the pregnant body, the psyche/self and the breast as a symbol of both connection and separation, questions around a relationship that whilst being mutually functional involves an emotional and psychological evolution through the medium of a physical journey.”

photos by Thomas Bartlett

Mothersuckers Project forms as an organisation

At the end of 2011 the Mothersuckers Project formally became an arts organisation with the following aims:
1. to enable artists whose practice has been or is currently substantially affected by the experience of parenthood.
2. to provide a point of contact whereby ideas and work related to the above can be discussed and promoted.
3. to contribute to long term studies of work being made about the subject in relation to art debate.
4. to act as a model of good practice for other areas across Wales and further afield.


'Breastcups' - a collaborative piece of video, installation and performance was first shown in November 2009 at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff. 
"Small cup and Large cup"
Two video pieces that play alongside each other. Close ups of a hand expressing breastmilk into a tiny tea cup and a normal sized tea cup. The work plays in a humourous and ironic way with the breast as a container of many meanings; with the biological normality of breast milk verses current cultural norms. The breast, the milk, but no baby - just milk for our tea.
An installation/performance . A cafe scene is set, tables for audience members. At one table sits a mother and her baby. The waitress brings out strange objects and vessels including lacy molded ‘breastcups’ which the mother fills by pumping her breastmilk through a tube into the vessels. In "Breastcups", the maternal breast becomes many vessels, with the medium and fluids of milk a kind of connective currency initially between Mother and Baby, then between self and other, performers and audience.


Saturday, 5 November 2016


enjoying working on the HOUSEMADE residency...  Zoe Gingell. Objects and themes from Breastcups and Mothersuckers work, re-appearing, being re-placed as the journey continues. 
Some thoughts...
House as home and family home- or memory of the home of childhood re-mapped drawn over the ‘body’ of the building- taking physical form- memory fantasy dream past and present sitting together in the same room. Trying to inscribe, set down, hold onto something that is sliding away from my grasp: their childhood, the inevitable loss, (the writing is on the wall) fading into the homespace of memory, transformed into an uncanny shadow of itself. 
Home as mother. Body to body, body to material, mother as body 'home'.
Collaborating with my children exploring what that means for all of us, an exploration of a physical connection and a physicality, the space we inhabit together as one body and as separate beings.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

French exchange

In August 2011, Mothersuckers Project took 'Breastcups' to the Dordogne region of France, with the assistance of the Wales Arts International Opportunities Fund and Article 19 association, where we staged the piece in two very different environments; namely a contemporary gallery: Metre Cube gallery and a café within a public square: Cafe des Halles, Bourdeilles.

It was interesting to find that French audiences were more adventurous than the British and would accept the offer to try tea with breastmilk, oui! We were made aware yet again through audiences enthusiastic and interested responses to the work, of a debate that is universally relevant, despite cultural differences, and to male as well as female artists and audiences alike. 
We also staged the installation for the camera in varoius settings: by a river, in some prehistoric caves, in a meadow; with some beautiful results. During one of these private performances, the boob blancmange was ceremonially carried into the river Dronne and thrown in, settling on the river bottom, where it may still be feeding the bewildered fishes and river life.

We achieved extensive press coverage and had meetings with the Regional Arts Council of the Dordogne, who promised their support for us co- organising a joint exhibition at a venue in the region. The enthusiastic response by the Director of the Perigordian Museum, Veronique Merlin-Anglade, has led to a collaborative curatorial project, bringing artists from the UK including ourselves to present work alongside French artists in response to maternal or paternal themes, in an exhibition scheduled for 2013.

photos: Josh Leeson