As a Matron (sponsor) of Mothers Who Make, the UK based peer network for mothers who make things, I was interviewed by their founder Matilda Leyser.
“Just in time before midnight I am glad to present the second of our Matron Saint Tuesdays, the day when I publish an interview with one of the fantastic women who are supporting Mothers Who Make with their Matronage. We need 240 more to become sustainable.
Go here to become a reconstructed Matron Saint for £3 per month (all gender identities welcome!): https://motherswhomake.org
And please read on for the interview with the wonderful Sarah Dixon….
1) What do you make and/ or who do you mother?
I mother a girl, she is six at the time of writing.
I make paintings, art courses and performance art – ritual processes. My paintings are a kind of icon painting, I make symbolic, quasi-religious imagery, tapping into Christian painting traditions as well as witchcraft, goddesses, dream symbols, spirit and western doctor medicine, and images that come to me through the dreaming body-mind.
I’m also a founder member of the Women’s Art Activation System, in which I perform with Sharon Bennett ‘The Bureau for the Validation of Art‘ (an institutional critique in which work is vetted by the Officials to see whether it is really Art). We also have a project for creativity in pregnancy called The Baby Makers – working with NHS midwives to support connection and health through making in pregnancy.
The course I am offering this year is called the Art of Your Life Spiral. Its a creative process that connects us to intuition, seasonality in nature and our bodies, and women’s art history. I hold a live workshop every six weeks in Stroud, and an online course around each of the 9 life stages from Birth through growth, fruition, composting and legacy to Bone (Death). There is also a free mini-course about the Life Spiral so that everyone can learn the concept and use it for reflecting on their life and projects.
2) Why have you become a MWM Matron? Why do you support Mothers Who Make?
MWM has offered an open framework for sharing, connecting and peer support. This is vital particularly for mothers, who are typically isolated and carrying huge amounts of physical and emotional labour. There is a huge financial burden carried by women too, and its assumed that we have found a way to fund our role as mother and as artist, and that this is not largely the responsiblity of society as a whole.
We don’t tend to see people sponsoring artists in their work when they are mothering, and it is hard to fit into normailsed capitalist structures and hieararchies. So we are left with few options to survive and create the kinds of support we really need, beyond basic child benefit and some healthcare. The idea of Matronage is very matriarchal.
There is sometimes a misperception that matriarchy is patriarchy-with-women, but the words don’t tell the story correctly. Patriarchy is a hiearchical system, creating dependency, and the potential for power abuse. Matriarchal societies are egalitarian – no-one can accumulate a lot of power and we work in collaborative, collective ways. Matriarchy is a society in which women have control of their bodies, and that only happens when rigorous power-sharing is in place.
Matronage perfectly models this idea of collective egalitarian support, and I want to live in a matriarchy and help to create that in the world for my daughter and all other children. (In matriarchal models we regard all children as a collective responsiblity, not a personal matter to be dealt with alone). If we don’t step up and support each other, noone else is going to do it for us. We can’t dream of a benevolent patriarch coming to make everything nice for us any more. At least I can’t! So it’s important to me to show up and take part when there is a matriarchal model being developed.
3) Any brief words of wisdom/ encouragement/ advice to the mothers and makers out there?
I know how hard it is and I know just how incredibly valuable (and undervalued) the work of women is, women of all kinds and in all roles (not just mothering). We live in a society structured to oppose your needs or at best, largely ignore and demean them. From birth to death, our lives and experiences are shaped by the conditions of the society we inhabit.
Know that your instincts are full of guidance, your intuition is full of power and brilliance to bring the world, and your creativity is a healing gift for yourself and through you, for others too. Your body is amazing and worthy of daily reverence and worship. Your being is needed in the world – you are the creator of life and imaginative vision, the giver of nourishment, the force that keeps the world going. You are one of many! Together we can become mighty.