Can you be a Successful Artist and a Mother?


In a recent interview  the artist Tracey Emin, a Turner prizewinner said that it was impossible for women to be successful as artists and mothers and that their work is undervalued. “There are good artists that have children. They are called men. I would have been either 100% mother or 100% artist. I don’t compromise”. Thats her.

As an artist who came to art after I became  a mother of 2 boys I would say she has a point. I cannot focus entirely 100% of my time energy and emotions on my art. As I write this I am sitting in Peterborough Rugby Club as my younger son charges into training devices as he practices how to shove other packs all over the field. I have to work on or in my art when I can.

However as a mother (who actually didn’t plan to be a mother and who loves being a mother with all my heart) I think motherhood and all the emotions around it bring another dimension to my work which is different to that which I would bring if I had no children. I have learnt so much by being a mother, helplessness, strength, love like no other, yes compromise, frustration, protection, yes boredom, the list goes on….

There are many women and men who don’t have children who have other issues in their lives which may compromise the way they produce their art-doesn’t mean they cannot or are not good or great artists. The film now out about the artist Turner made me think about how selfish and how insular some artists can be about their work-thats fine but its not where I want to be. I want to live life and bring all those experiences and emotions to the great work that I create. Its real for me and I think I am a good artist because I bring all of me how I am to the table or easel.

By Artist Tracey Emin

By Artist Tracey Emin

Tracey is entitled to her opinion-HER opinion-we all have them and we are entitled to say them. I wish however that as women we would not continously say things in the public domain that is not supportive to other women often battling through difficult circumstances to follow their dream. We are all so different in the way we live our lives through choice or circumstances and we need to support each other in the choices that we make. I love being a mother and now having found art only a few years ago I love being an artist. Two passions that combine to make me who I am and what I do. I am so blessed!

Its all about the person, the artist, their life experiences and individuality. Each artist brings different things to the pot and that is what makes our art so special and unique. For me a great artist is someone who can make the viewer feel emotion and think about the subject in a different way. Tracey does that-like her or not like her- and that is what makes her a good artist.

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