This That Happens

13mins 18secs / single screen
2mins looped / 6 screen installation

After my son’s birth, there is one short moment that feels exactly how I imagined motherhood would be; standing in the showers of the swimming pool I hold my six-month-old baby gently to my tired body. He is gloriously shiny and naked as he submits peacefully to the warm water cascading down on us both, clinging to me in the best hug I ever dreamt of. I stay like that for as long as I can before moving back out into reality.

Walking home through town pushing my pram I look at other mothers, thinking how at ease they all look. Not at all how I feel. When you chat in the street or at baby groups, there are mutual understandings of the extreme sleep deprivation, of how long it takes to leave the house, sometimes whispered exchanges about losing your temper in an endless seeming night. But there are also wordless parts of the whole experience – the real strangeness of this ‘once removed from the world’ feeling.

From the 2nd and 3rd centuries, depictions of The Madonna have fed fantasies about motherhood. A dream of being somehow outside of time and space, sitting serenely in semi-darkness feeling infused with warmth, compassion and love.

I look again more deeply at those other Mums pushing their prams through town, and start to see in their faces and postures glimpses of the indescribable, life exploding, re-making, wouldn’t change a moment, overwhelming mix of hormones, how can I escape, time altering, perception shattering, trying to hold onto any semblance of a brain, slow-burning guilty fairground ride of this ordinary, everyday, experience of motherhood. A drama of human survival. Maybe I’m not so alone afterall.

Featuring an installation screening as part of The Motherlode project, De La Warr Pavillion, 2019

with thanks to:
Jennifer and Amira Talbot-Price
Victoria Kiff and Maximilian Ramsden
Chrissy and Evie Farrell
Monica and Sophie Jupp
Molly and Miller Midlane
Dora Dewsbery and Wilbur Newman

and Clare Whistler

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