Mothers Who Make is a growing international movement for women and non-binary people who care about creating and create whilst caring. Through a range of peer support meetings, artistic events and innovative projects we aim to support women and non-binary people to sustain their creative identities while also holding caring roles.
how it all began
When I first became a mother, I went along to the requisite mum and baby groups with my newborn. The vast majority of the women I met there were on a fixed maternity leave of 6 mths to 1yr and were then due to go back to a full or part time job. There was a much smaller group who had given up work and could afford to commit to being a full-time mum for the foreseeable future. I did not feel I fitted into either group. As a freelance artist no one was going to give me maternity leave except myself. At the same time, although I was being a full-time mum, I felt I had the kind of work I couldn’t give up – my creative practice was an essential part of my identity, and of how I was surviving and navigating my way through motherhood.
Alongside this, I noticed the stark segregation of space that accompanied my new status as a mother – suddenly I was moving between two kinds of spaces: child-centred ones (playgrounds, playgroups) where I was only seen as ‘mum’, and adult-centred ones (rehearsal rooms, meetings) with no children present, where I was only seen as a theatre-maker.
What was missing was a third kind of space – adult-centred but child-friendly- somewhere I could be visible and welcomed in both my roles of mother and artist.
While the world kept these roles apart, I was struck by how much they were connected and aligned. The language of creativity borrows from the language of motherhood – we conceive of an idea and give birth to a project. Both roles require sensitivity, resourcefulness, risk, surprise. Both keep me up at a night. The widespread assumption is that I have to drop my art, or drop off my child. I wanted to turn this question around – to ask what it might be like for mothering and caring to be valued, and the skills learnt in that role to be picked up, along with the children, so that they might inform the cultural landscape instead of being consigned to its margins.
I started Mothers Who Make in 2014 when my son was 2. I began it as a small local group in South London, at Battersea Arts Centre. I never dreamt of it growing into an international movement, but word spread…..Nine years later, the power of word spreading and of peer support between m/others, carers and makers of every ilk, continues to astonish and inspire me.
At its heart, for me, MWM is an ongoing piece of artist-led research into how to do these two things that I hold dear – caring for my children and sustaining my creative work – because I still do not want to compromise on either. Care and creativity, nurture and play, matter too much, not just to me, but as vital practices in the world. Mothers, carers and artists don’t enjoy the highest status, and yet I believe that what they do is of the highest value.
If you want to join the MWM community, you are very welcome. You don’t need to be a professional artist. You don’t need to be a mother – care takes many forms, and in recognition of this we are in the process of introducing a forward slash to our name: M/Others who Make. We want to actively include makers who are not yet m/others, who are fostering children, have adopted children, have step children, adult children and/or grandchildren, have experienced infertility, child loss, care for older relatives or a partner, or hold a completely different notion of caring.
You can sign up to our Mothers Who Make newsletter via our website,
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