I became a walking artist out of necessity. As a new mother, I couldn’t walk without taking my daughter with me, and I wasn’t ready to have to choose between spending time with her or on my practice. “Maternity Leaves” documents a series of short performative walks within a mile radius of my home, exploring the time and space of motherhood. Drifting around my own locality, my newly myopic attention to the patterns, demographics, and waymarkers I discovered paralleled that which is given to newborns. The slow changing of the seasons similarly reminded me that I couldn’t will her to smile, not have colic, sleep all night, eat solids, walk, etc. any faster than nature intended.
Like Rousseau, these (not quite) solitary walks offered me precious time for reverie, but also to reflect on my choice to become a mother. In addition to the themes of ambivalence and abandonment, these images document a performer interrogating her own performance in this new role, as I dared myself to take a few more steps away from my subject/audience/co-performer than was emotionally comfortable. This exploration of distance was subtly affected by the real and imagined reactions of passers by, and so the titles, detailing the number of steps taken, are a plaintiff acknowledgement of this responsibility. The difference between ‘ahh, look – a mother taking a photo of her baby’ and ‘what the hell is she doing?’ is only a few paces.
These photos are currently part of “The Walking Encyclopaedia” Exhibition in Stoke on Trent, and will form part of a walk and performative guidebook to the Frenchay and Begbrook area of Bristol, available locally and online.