UWE Bristol art exhibition project on motherhood receives over 700 submissions

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Women holding paintbrush

A UWE Bristol project calling for artwork from artists/mothers at all stages of their careers receives over 700 pieces of art from around the world.

The “This is Essential Work” project is an online open-access intersectional feminist exhibition initiated by academic mothers and creators, Michal Nahman (UWE Bristol) and Susan Newman (Open University) in response to their experiences and interdisciplinary research on the commodification of breastmilk and forms of exploitation of women’s bodies and labour.

They came to this from research conducted just before the Covid 19 pandemic, in Bengaluru, India, into women’s provision of “excess” breastmilk to a private company that was pasteurising it and selling the milk online and across borders at a profit.

For the exhibition, the team are looking for art that conveys how women’s work and their bodies get devalued. This feminist exhibition is about showcasing women’s work: to acknowledge, to grieve, and importantly, to connect with one another.

The team are looking to showcase women artists who question the value that society puts on their work, including all kinds of labour. The list of our Essential Work is endless and it holds up the world.

One of the project leads Michal Nahman commented:

“We are very excited that our work and ideas have struck such a chord with people globally. It is clear that the themes of exploitation of motherhood and the extraction of value from our bodies is am important and universal theme.”

The call for submissions has now closed. The successful pieces will be announced on Sunday 15 May and the exhibition will go live in June.

Find out more via the This is Essential Work website and their Instagram.

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