23 August 2015 | Adult Non-Fiction

Motherhood and creativity, the divided heart

Motherhood and creativity, the divided heartThe Divided Heart

Rachel Power
Affirm Press

The story: This book is the second edition – The divided heart originally came out in 2008. It is a collection of interviews with mother/artists or artist/mothers – however you want to put it! I devoured this book when it first came out when I was pregnant with Mr 6. I heard Rachel Power speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival in 2009 and felt like I wanted to contribute to the conversation with her guests on stage.

Motherhood and creativity holds conversations with dancers, writers, illustrators, actors, musicians, filmmakers and bloggers. They discuss birth, postnatal depression, housework, support or lack thereof, being a school mum, choosing between opportunities and children, the daily struggle and the struggle within – to want two things with passion.

The highlights: The honesty in sharing their stories makes the artists both vulnerable and courageous. While working mothers of all professions could relate to their stories, I think there is something particular here to artists. Unless you are really well-established in your profession, it can be hard to justify the time you need to devote to your craft. If you have a job, you have accountability – there is less need to justify your absence. But if you want to rewrite chapter 7, draft 14 of a book a publisher has already rejected, it is a little harder to justify paying a babysitter or staying at home instead of seeing your son’s football match.

I went to the Melbourne Writers Festival again this year, and heard a panel discussion with Tracee Hutchinson interviewing Rachel Power and Jessica Rowe. Fabulous discussion about the tension between being a perceived selfless mother and a perceived selfish artist, and the external and internal limitations of being a mother and artist or working mother.

Here are some of my favourite quotes from Rachel’s book:

“For women seeking to hold on to their creativity amidst the clamour and clutter of family life, certain questions arise: how can I give my child and my craft the undivided attention they deserve? Will I still be taken seriously as an artist? How do I make art when I’ve got no time? How can I justify doing this thing for myself when the house is such a mess? When it comes to art and motherhood, does succeeding at one inevitably mean failing at the other?” Rachel Power

“Equality is not only about providing opportunities for women in the workplace, it’s also about lifting up the value of raising a family, and being with your children, and not outsourcing that for $18 an hour.’ Claudia Karvan

“… becoming pregnant put the wind on my sails and forced me to live the creative life I’d always suspected I would be happiest living. The thought of becoming a mother presented me with a strong now or never kind of feeling. What sort of example would I be setting for my children if I didn’t try? Clare Bowditch

“I think making things and taking a tiny bit of time to be creative, to be yourself each day is so much more important than having a tidy house, or colour-coded books, or perfectly blended baby purees. “ Pip Lincolne

“I’m a much, much better writer for having had children. And in a bizarre way I think I’m actually more productive too, because the lack of time means that my appetite’s piqued all the time. Joanna Murray-Smith

“There’s a really strangled relationship between time and money and art. You can’t separate them; the money buys the time to make the art, and if you haven’t got the money then you lose the time. Earning a living takes over – it eats into your time and the right to be making art.’ Martine Murray



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