Villages Collective

By Klaire Doyle and Georgianna Cardoso
How can art organisations support women with children to further develop their art careers?
What kind of space would be suitable for women to work alongside their children?
How can peer support provide resources and opportunities to women and their children?
Jan 2021

Villages is a research project initiated by Georgianna Cardoso and Klaire Doyle. It will take the shape of a collective which will devise strategies to reclaim the artworld for mothers and women to highlight the importance of protecting women’s art careers.
The initial stages of this project will provide a community for women to encounter educational talks (ie: sex ed, practical creative workshops). We will also provide art residency opportunities for women to produce work that reflects their practice with empathy and flexibility for their needs (ie: childcare). This initial stage could take place via online resources (especially during lockdown).
We eventually aim to create a safe workspace for women to practice their art as professionals. This space will be centred around women with children, but it will not exclude women without children, trans women, and BAME women seeking opportunities and safe space/refuge to work. We will look at ways to create affordable spaces with childcare centred in peer support.
“Motherhood is taboo in the art world - it is as if we’ve sold out” - Hattie Judah on Female Artists on The Impact Of Having Kids, The Guardian (December 2nd 2020). In this article Judah also quotes Laima Leyton saying how she felt “sad” at the thought of “why many women artists she loved were not mothers…. As if their work were their babies”.
Data from The Freelands Foundation has recently reported on the Representation of Female Artist in Britain. It states that 75% of art students at A level are girls, but only 3% of high grossing artist sales at auction are made by women (data gathered by Kate McMillan for Freelands Foundation). This highlights misrepresentation of women in the arts.
Judah researched female artists in their 30s who seemed to have had their careers ‘derailed’. She concluded that motherhood is the significant reason women’s careers are suffering. She questions how this could be resolved if women continued to work and if childcare could be better funded.
Through this research we hope to set the foundations for an art collective and space for women to develop their careers without having to choose between being a mother or being an artist.

Social media responses (28th Jan 2021 Instagram) to the research question ‘What can art organisations do to support women with children?’

I am going to graduate a fine art course this year. At the moment I have a grant to help cover the cost of child care. I really think a studio that could have a space dedicated to bringing children with you. And time-sharing child minding could be an option. For example, one group of mum’s child Mind for a few hours while other mothers get a chance to work on their art and then a swap over. I feel like this would support people on low income. Or if there could be funding generated to hire child minders?

This was something that I was going to try and set up on my own in the future somehow, it’s been in my mind ever since becoming a mother, feeling a sense of losing my place in the art community. If there were a place that was known to support mothers and their creativity existing, I know that would eradicate the feelings I had, and I’m guessing there are lots of women who feel this.

You don’t need to be a mother to feel the pressure. It’s out there, this “you can’t be an artist and a mother” mythos. It's a career or children. And it sort of is geared that way at the moment, especially if you don’t have a high income coming in from somewhere. It can be changed though I hope. The value needs to be recognised first. And I think that may be the challenge. People love their mums, but Mothers, I feel are just taken for granted. Just seeing that there are people who deny the gender pay gap is a thing baffles me. I think women deserve better on a whole.

Its good when its okay to bring your children to work, rehearsals and meetings, and when you can change plans because of child care and not feel like a bad person.

Options to bring kids along. Breastfeeding safe spaces are always nice too.