Leading UK artists including Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Athena Stevens and Anya Reiss will join Juno Dawson, Lemn Sissay and Naomi Sheldon among others for The Motherhood Project.
Fifteen short films will explore the guilt, joy, absurdity and taboo surrounding motherhood in this online festival of dramatic monologues and personal reflections. The films will be available on the Battersea Arts Centre website from Monday 19th April; all ticket sales will include a 50% donation to Refuge.
Curator Katherine Kotz invited writers, artists and technicians to join forces and donate their time to create exciting new pieces to support vulnerable adults and children affected by the pandemic. Interrogating the relationship between parent and child, autonomy and responsibility, dramatic pieces were contributed by Irenosen Okojie, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm, Hannah Khalil, Anya Reiss, Suhayla El Bushra in addition to Naomi Sheldon, E.V Crowe, Jodi Gray, and Katherine Kotz.
Alongside them, artists and activists will share their experiences and expectations of parenthood. Actor, writer and disabled rights activist, Athena Stevens talks about the tension between having children and being a ‘reasonable’ woman. Juno Dawson, journalist, author and trans rights activist, discusses bodily autonomy and the relationship between motherhood and womanhood. Kalhan Barath reflects on caring for other people’s children having decided not to have her own.
In between sharing his poetry, Lemn Sissay MBE talks about his relationship with his mother and his journey towards understanding things from her perspective. The poet and playwright Joelle Taylor shares her poem about non-mothers who help raise children. Lakuta vocalist Siggi Mwasote explores her bond with her teenage daughter, escaping an abusive relationship, and how moving to a predominantly white area affected her daughter’s school years.
Creator Katherine Kotz comments, I set up The Motherhood Project as a way of bringing artists together to help respond to the needs of the crisis. I was keen to engage with new writing on the topic of motherhood because I was pregnant at the time and grappling with my own preconceptions about what lay ahead. With women bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s economic impact while continuing to perform 75% of unpaid care responsibilities, I hope these short films will stimulate discussion about our cultural expectations of women.
Providing a wide range of specialist services to those experiencing domestic violence, Refuge has experienced an escalating rise in demand during the Covid-19 pandemic. In May, the visits to their website, where it’s possible to request a safe time to be contacted by the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, saw a 950% rise compared to pre-Covid-19. People’s lives depend on them being able to access the specialist services Refuge provides, and now, more than ever, they are endeavouring to provide the confidential support needed.