Bishopston is a hotbed for creative talent and local mum, Pippa Robinson, is a great example.
Pippa is the person behind Mother in the Mother, a Bristol based arts project which celebrates motherhood, collecting mother’s stories and exploring our maternal lineage using photography, the written and spoken word, sculpture and moving image.
Mother in the Mother invites mothers to get involved with creative workshops, upload their personal stories to the website, and holds celebratory events throughout its duration.
Today, Pippa shares her experiences of being a mum in Bishopston, as well as what inspired her to create Mother in the Mother.
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I live in Bishopston with my 2 daughters. We have been here for 6 years and love living so close to Gloucester road and the sense of upbeat community that permeates this great area. We spend a lot of time in and out of the local shops: the Breadstore, Playfull, Scoopaway and the many charity shops are all favorites with us.
Lately both girls have become very keen on eating fish and sea food, they love going to The Fish Shop and choosing what they want to eat and I really appreciate the friendly service and help with tips of how to cook things.
I took my older daughter to Piglets Toddler Group when we first moved here and found them really welcoming and both girls have enjoyed sessions at Bristol School of Gymnastics.
I moved to Bristol from Brighton 21 years ago, and my first flat was in Bishopston so I kind of feel I have gone full circle and ended up where I began. It feels like home.
I work as an arts practitioner and when my youngest daughter was born I developed an idea that had been brewing in my mind for a while. ‘Mother in the Mother’ started its life around my kitchen table on Mother’s Day 2012.
I brought together a small group of mums to talk about the reality of their journeys of motherhood over tea, coffee and a traditional Simnel cake. Something was liberated that day as we shared stories and dared to talk honestly about our experiences, the dark as well as the light.
I spoke for the first time about the anxiety I had experienced after my first daughter was born and other women shared similar stories: I wasn’t alone, which was a very powerful and healing realization.
This became the basis for the project: creating a safe space for women to share the realities of their experiences, hearing and honoring these, and supporting mums to create something with their story, giving it a visual outlet.
This began a year of research, further meetings and fundraising. My youngest was 9 months old at the outset and as I first sat down to write my project proposal my mind felt like jelly. But I persevered and worked late into the nights, trying to eek out bits of quiet time when my brain cells would reconnect.
I received a letter from the Arts Council approving my funding application just as the Simnel cake for Mother’s day 2013 was baking.
We created an event called a Celebration of Motherhood to get the public face of the project going, and ran a similar event last year to show work created midway through the project. Mothers Day this year saw our third Celebration of Motherhood and the opening of our public exhibition.
On Friday 15th May 2015 the exhibition moved to the new flagship Brunel Building at Southmead Hospital as part of their Fresh arts Programme. You can come and view the work in the Sanctuary Gallery anytime until 25th August.
Over the project’s two-year duration, I have had the privilege of hearing stories from a wide range of mothers covering a diversity of experiences. Running through these unique, personal stories are the threads of some universal themes.
When a woman becomes a mother it is often a time she reflects back upon the way she herself was mothered. Our maternal inheritance, from our mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and beyond can have a great influence upon our lives and the ways in which we choose to bring up our own children. ‘Mother in the Mother’ is a creative exploration on this theme of maternal lineage.
Some women spoke of how motherhood has transformed their own lives and their relationship with their mothers: “We got into a 20-year battle of miscommunication. But finally we resolved. We found each other. Motherhood brought us together again. It reopened the channels of communication between us.”
Another common theme was of women choosing to break the patterns of their past: “My mum grew up feeling completely unloved by her own mother. This was something that haunted her for her entire life…. But, she always made us feel loved. There were things in life that she could not cope with, but she always tried her best. She was determined to break the chain and be a good mum, and she was.”
Mum’s contributed their personal stories to our website: www.motherinthemother.co.uk/stories and we printed a selection of these in a lovely book. Throughout 2015 we will be continuing to collect stories on our website to go in a published book next year. We welcome submissions from mums, grandmothers, great grand mothers, mums to be, adoptive and foster mums.
Throughout the project I have run workshops for groups of mums including Mothers for Mothers (who support mums dealing with post natal depression) and The Meriton (a school for young mothers). All workshop participants created chains of paper dolls representing their maternal lineage and went on to make short films and books with their stories.
I also created 3D work in response to these stories. A selection of this work can be seen at the exhibition in Southmead alongside portrait photos of families with 5 generations of women.
It feels really lovely that the work is now showing in North Bristol, not too far away from Bishopston, and that it will be seen by so many visitors to the hospital. My two girls have been really great in responding to the work (with a mixture of interest, questions and bemusement!) and helping me to set it up and prepare for events.