The association and the project: Mothers in Residence - as test pilot.
We lack a common hub and platform for artists and creators who have become mothers. A fairly quiet part of the culture in Sweden. How do you combine your artistry with motherhood, it does not have to mean that artistry is thematically about motherhood. Even if one wants to unite it, does it rank as uninteresting? (In the UK, there is (1.) Mother Art prize for those who work with just that expression in their art. But there is no such thing here in Sweden, here there are so far (2.3.) Artist-run or association-run family residences.
Not many people have guaranteed paid work waiting, because in the artist culture there is a free-work mentality. As a cultural worker, you work first and get paid later. You pay for projects with your own funds. After a pregnancy and maternity leave, it is the intention that creativity flows again as usual and that one's studio or workshop remains. But who can afford to have a studio for a year or more? Where does an artisan store his tools and his workbench, I wonder since I will personally store my workshop with machines and tools in the basement of my parents-in-law until further notice as I am pregnant now and will give birth in July this year.
Untitled - A.M.Hedman
In (4.) The Swedish Arts Council's "Sales support to sole proprietors, N2020 / 02353" it is written that "the turnover limit of SEK 200,000 is an estimate of the lowest net sales that should be required for a person to be able to make a living from their sole proprietorship." It states that the "average net turnover for artistic and cultural activities in 2018 was SEK 129,000. For an artist who combines employment with entrepreneurship, a modest company income on paper can be absolutely decisive for the artist's survival." A slightly crazy sum, the politicians seems to think, as SEK 200,000 must be the least you can live on, otherwise maybe you are not serious in your creative practise? No, then there will be no compensation for those who have survived their business of both under and over SEK 129,000. A parenthesis from the mother discussion, but for me this speaks of misunderstanding and non-appreciation of cultural work by our government, for what I really want to know is: How have all cultural workers practiced their creative business after a maternity leave?
The question why there is no establishment grant for creators and artists who are traders and have been on maternity leave seems to have never been asked, or there has been no place for it in the creative industry as a basic support issue. Instead, it applies to Darwin's theory of a natural selection that is accustomed to our society, women just fall away.
And can someone who has a sole proprietorship, is an arist / creator / artisan / musician be on maternity leave at all to one hundred percent during their parental leave? It does not work if you are a single parent at least, it must be stated. Or is it that the artist is never really free, because it's a calling, right? But the muse does not always get through the fatigue and baby gargling or sometimes even through to the teenage babble, and the bread job is very much needed. But then comes a crisis like this pandemic that we have just gone through, and those who have survived on their activities under SEK 200,000 receive no direct compensation, in which a noted disrespect for our cultural creation of our government is expressed, for both the poor artists, those who are constantly striving to return to their artistic practice or, in general, small businesses in comparison with what (5.) other countries have done to save them.
To update the portfolio again, you should have time and space and the opportunity to work in your practise and space again. Because if you work too much to earn the bread money, the energy is lost and the identity with the self-confidence as a creator is crumbled. Too many female creators suffers from the 'imposter syndrome or a feeling of not really being worthy of their mission / fee. So many artist-driven projects are sponsored by the artist's initiative and non-profit work. In March 2021 I took a course, 'Art and Business' by the Academy of Culture where most of the 19 course participants were women and creators in various forms, artists, sculptors, musicians, mimes, actors, photographers, clowns, etc. An exciting mix of artistic creation in Sweden.
A large part of the course consisted of sharpening one's entrepreneurship, understanding oneself how one is perceived externally and being able to present oneself personally and via the web in a professional, fast and attractive way without violating one's integrity as an artist. In order to actually be able to live on their creation. It was counterproductive in many different ways for more of us. For example, I was criticised for my work on the website for Mothers in Residence as it was too cute/sweet, apparently it did not scream strong women about it.
But I gladly accepted that criticism and changed the colors a little. For honest feedback is something to appreciate and at the same time something you have to sift through. None of what was presented in the course was embarrassing selling or had the feeling of standing in the market and selling jewellery or participating in a group show or attending a trade fair, standing and presenting their works in person / as a person (which is personally among the worst activities I have known). But through the course participants revealed a matter of professional skill, years of experience in their professional form and at the same time a nakedness of not being up to date in their presentation. It does not come naturally and actually takes too much time in an artistic creation that must already function as a company to be able to exist professionally in Sweden. Being an entrepreneur and an artist is not the same thing.
And I found that it crept around a mixture of frustration and an acceptance of fighting against the current, not being self-evident on ones platform / place aka this imposter like symptom. It's so nice to be inexplicable or to exist in your inner world as protection against the outside world's roll of creative display. As well as watching conflicts take place within collaborations and be quiet in order to be able to participate, alternatively find a responsibility in oneself / make an objective attempt for communication to work get a collaboration to continue without interruption. The cost of this communication work is energy that is usually not paid for the individual who performs the work.
As a mother and artist (this includes all expressions within the creative fields like music, crafts and writing, etc.), there will also be a biological change due to the brain's restructuring through pregnancy, if one has undergone a pregnancy, and also other starting points for continuing to work creatively; the personal economy, family dynamics, social, mental and physical circumstances that affect each individual differently and create different conditions for taking on their artistic career during and after the toddler years. Through the MiR project, supported by the Cultural Administration in Gothenburg 2020-2021, we want to start up practical opportunities to implement a (6.) artist in residence in the hometown, this we have just started with, our (7.) first residence just started and we wishes to open up discussions on this topic and hopefully create new collaborations with both artist-driven initiatives and with more established art and cultural organisations.
Feel free to join Mothers in Residence, and be active in the association because we need you and your reality to reflect as an artist, creator, musician, dancer and cultural worker. Because thanks to the pandemic, we can also meet more obviously digitally and build on art forms, cultures and regions within and outside our country. We need you.
Anna Maria Hedman