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Woman Up!

Author: Amy Dignam and Susan Merrick

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WomanUp! podcast speaks to and about artists, academics, writers and activists, midwives, carers and more all (m)others and all womxn. Those challenging ideas and ideals, questioning assumptions and provoking social change.

Originally created under the Desperate Artwives collective, Woman Up! is a podcast dedicated to creating a living archive of these people and this work, that anyone can access. We find those trying to change current structures founded on biases that have to do with gender, caring responsibilities, race, and the integration of the private and the public space. We have conversations about lived experiences, achievements, and aspirations and we will share campaigns and awareness around crucial intersectional struggles and subjects.

Series 4 included 6 episodes produced in partnership with the innovative Procreate Project

Woman Up! is produced by Artists Amy Dignam and Susan Merrick

Special thanks:

Althea Greenan and The Women’s Art Library at Goldsmiths College for providing us space and equipment to record for S1 and S2 as well as support for the project;

Rosemary Schonfeld and OVA for the use of their track Early in the Evening, and to the Women’s Liberation Music Archive for storing such inspirational music that we can then find!

Mike Dignam for remixing the track

47 Episodes
In this episode we talk to artist and founder of A.M.M.A.A (The Archive for Mapping Mother Artists in Asia) Ruchika Wason Singh along two other wonderful artists Alka Mathur  and Aparajita Jain Mahajan . A.M.M.A.A. simply means mother. It is also a space, for mapping mother artists in Asia and their art practice. A.M.M.A.A. is an initiative by Indian artist Ruchika Wason Singh, to document the different aspects of their art making and its possible  relations with motherhood . Mathur is a visual artist who works with mixed media. She is an alumna of the Sir J.J School of Art, Mumbai, India. Her artistic practice entails mental reconstructions articulated as assemblages on fabric, paper and cloth. Using natural dyes, earth pigments and found objects, Alka strives to blur the line between traditional and contemporary. Nature plays a significant role in the artist’s work. The contours and cracks of the parched land of her home Rajasthan, have always found their way into her relationship with material - the rustic, frayed edges which are worked over but never refined. She photographs nature and then interrupts their easy or direct readings by abstracting them into compositions of lines, planes, textures and symbols. Earth, matter and the divine feminine energy are themes which inspire and permeate her practice. The kantha or running stitch is an integral motif, representing the meditative, repetitive process analogous to the everyday rituals of women reworking old pieces of cloth. Her more recent assemblages use tea bags and tea stains on handmade paper, on which she writes a daily journal. These works are both anecdotal and autobiographical - incorporating ordinary, everyday happenings where the artist presents herself in fragments, while also encouraging the viewer to become a participant. Jain Mahajan is an abstract mixed-media artist. Through her painting, drawing, and sewing, she investigates interactions between seen and unseen forms and energies, while creating emotive topographies. The feelings of passage of time, pausing to reflect, following footprints, discovering pathways, and occupying a location are visually explored through her works. Her work rises out of flat surfaces and journeys through three-dimensional space. Aparajita has focused on her art practice while simultaneously undertaking social projects. She created animations for the Eternal Gandhi Multimedia Museum in New Delhi and assisted film maker Saeed Mirza in his tribute to Gandhiji in 2004. While Living in Auroville, a universal township, she taught art in an outreach village school and made a documentary about this special school.  Since 2009, Aparajita has exhibited her artwork at solo, two-person, and group shows.  ‘The Line in Between’ at the Alliance Francaise, 2012 and ‘Interactions’ at the habitat centre, 2016 in New Delhi, India were some of these exhibitions. In 2020, she debuted her textile artwork as an installation ‘Tracing Memories’ in the RISD alumni show at the India Art Fair. In 2022, as part of the “Taking.Up.Space” initiative by the Thrive Together Network, Aparajita, co-created a virtual exhibition "Attachment; Abbreviated”  featuring materials that were shared, swapped, and changed between artists in opposite ends of the world.
Spilt Milk Gallery CIC is a social enterprise based in Edinburgh whose mission is to support the work of artists who identify as mothers, and to empower mothers in our community through artist-led activities. They support and advocate for artists mothers through an international membership network, an online and pop-up exhibitions programme, peer support, mentoring and professional development opportunities. They support mothers and families in the local community through creative workshops and family friendly events. (The term ‘mother’ is used inclusively to represent women, non-binary parents and trans women with life-long caring responsibilities.)Lauren McLaughlin graduated with BA (Hons) Fine Art from Central Saint Martins in 2012, and MA Applied Arts & Social Practice from Queen Margaret University Edinburgh in 2021. Lauren’s work has been exhibited throughout the UK and Europe including at the Royal Scottish Academy Edinburgh, The Whitworth Manchester, Lights of Soho London and Palazzo Albrizi Venice. Her work is held in permanent public collections and she has been published in a number of books and journals including An Artist and A Mother (Demeter Press), OVER Journal (Photo Ireland), Milked Mag, and Wordpower: Language as Medium (Library X). Lauren’s practice has been publicly funded by Creative Scotland, King’s College Cultural Institute, The Hope Scott Trust and most recently, Magnetic North Theatre’s Seed Fund. Lauren is also the founding director of Spilt Milk Gallery CIC. Gallagher is a multidisciplinary artist, who’s practice encompasses sculpture, printing and drawing. She completed her diploma in sculpture from Limerick school of art in Ireland. After gaining her Art & Design teaching qualifications, she followed her dream of going to Africa, and travelled to Botswana in 1997 to work as an art educator and artist. Traveling and working in Africa was inspiring, and it was in Botswana that she was involved in her first exhibitions. Michelle returned to Ireland in 2000 and finished the final year of her BA in fine art sculpture, from Limerick. Michelle has worked as an artist and educator, firstly in Ireland and Botswana, then Eastern Europe and Asia before settling in Germany. Her work has been exhibited Internationally. She is a member of the Scottish based Spilt Milk Gallery, and has had the opportunity to be part of the curatorial team for some of their recent exhibitions. Michelle joined the BBK Kunstforum Düsseldorf in 2021 and is currently working within the board curating and helping organize the community.
Pauline de Souza is the founder and director of Diversity Art Forum. She is a writer and is Senior Lecturer in the Visual Arts Cluster, Fine Art Department at the University of East London,  She, is the programmer for Cultural Manoeuvres at the University of East London and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.Pauline is involved in the Beacon Collective and sits on the TATE British Artists Network Steering Group. She has written for Feminist Visual Culture, Women Artists and Modernism, Leap into Action, for Third Text, Studio International and other publications. 
Syowia Kyambi is an interdisciplinary artist and curator whose media spans across photography, video, drawing, sound, sculpture and performance installation. She holds an MFA from Transart Institute (2020) and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2002). Syowia is based in Nairobi and of Kenyan/German origin.In Kyambi’s artistic practice history collapses into the contemporary through the interventions of mischievous and disruptive interlocutory agents who interrogate the legacy of hurt inflicted by colonial projects that still frame the wider political conjuncture of now. The work is messy, complex and uneasy requiring its viewers and participants to bear witness to an embodiment of collective experiences, and a constant search for links between the now and the morphed now that is encapsulated in her work while asking important questions about what is remembered, what is archived, and how we see the world anew. She is one of the 4 members of the “What the hELL she doin!” collective. The members are all female-identifying artists from across the African continent and its Diasporas. Common to their respective practices are touchstones, which include but are not limited to: the body and what gets embodied, remembering and dismembering, standing and leaving, invisible creolization, and labor as geography.
Guests: - Oleksandra Kushchenko (Sasha), born in 1988 in Kharkiv, moved to Lviv in 2009. Art critic, art historian, and author of a series of lectures "(Her)story of Art" (2019) and "(Her)story of Photography" (2020) organized together with the Feminist Workshop (Lviv). Ph.D. student at the Lviv National Academy of Arts. Lecturer of the course "Visual Culture" at the Ukrainian Catholic University. Since 2014, the founder and editor of the project "ArtLvivOnline". Anita Nemeth, born in Khmelnytsky in 1993. Artist, curator and art historian. She studied at the Kamyanets-Podilsky National University named after Ivan Ogienko, majoring in "Restoration of works of art" (2010-2014) and at the Lviv National Academy of Arts, majoring in "History and Theory of Art" (2010-2016). Since 2019 he has lived in Lviv and worked at the Mykhailo Dzyndra Museum of Modern Sculpture. During this time she has implemented several art projects in Lviv as a curator: Pink Exhibition (2019) , Sculpture Symposium 0.1 in the Park of Culture (2020). also have a fresh publication about calm feminism episode was produced in partnership with Procreate Project
In this month's Woman Up! we speak to one of Britain's leading art writers Hettie Judah..Hettie is currently working on a Hayward Gallery Touring exhibition and on a book on art and motherhood. .In this episode, Hettie talks to us about both her current work on issues surrounding artists with children, and her personal experience of combining her professional career, and parenting responsibilities.  .'There were artists who’d received awards for women artists that felt like they had to ‘come out’ as mothers…which is a ridiculous situation to be in. Or who were having residencies given to them and that they had to say ‘Well, I have 2 kids I can’t go away for 3 months… either I have to take my kids or I have to split this up and do it in different ways.......... Nobody is there to pick up and help these people… they’re just expected to fit around the needs of the gallery when actually it really costs the gallery or the institution nothing to say ‘well, can we shift this for a week? Could we shift this for a year? Would this event be easier for you if we did it at 11 am instead of 6 pm?’ You know, there are all these structures that we have established in the artworld and we expect everyone to just fit around them when there are really small changes that could be made to make things a lot easier for artist parents. It just takes a little bit of thought and to ask the right questions and for people to feel empowered to declare themselves openly.'.Her most recent and upcoming books include Lapidarium (John Murray/ Penguin, 2022), How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (and other parents) (Lund Humphries, 2022), Frida Kahlo (Laurence King, 2020) and Art London (ACC Art Books, 2019). This episode was produced in partnership with Procreate Project
Dr Frances Hatherley is a writer, researcher and curator. Her writing provokes critical engagements with working-class women’s subjectivities, creativities, art works, and notions of a classed-aesthetics.In 2018 she was awarded her PhD from Middlesex University titled “Sublime Dissension: A Working-Class Anti-Pygmalion Aesthetics of the Female Grotesque” examining the intersections of class and gender in the formations of grotesque, and sublime femininities in art and visual culture.She has published writing on surrealism and the subversive female grotesques of Leonora Carrington’s book The Hearing Trumpet and in David and Al Measles’ film Grey Gardens, and on working-class sexualities and fat femininities in characters from the comic Viz, as well as challenging stereotypes of working-class aesthetics in the photography of Richard Billingham. Other articles discuss class, sexuality, education in film and television.In 2020 She published her first book on Jo Spence, with a foreword by Marina Warner, titled Class Slippers: Jo Spence, Fantasy, Photography & Fairytales.Frances has been involved in curating several exhibitions in the UK, the first at the Pelz Gallery working with Patrizia di Bello and a group of MA students, with a show titled “Cultural Sniping: Photographic Collaborations in the Jo Spence Memorial Library” in Spring 2018. She co-curated the exhibition “Jo Spence: From Fairytales to Phototherapy” at the Arnolfini, Bristol, December 2020 – June 2021. Before Christmas, she was involved in curating the expanded film project “The Hurrier: Poor on the Roll” with Anne Robinson showing at galleries APT and Five Years, taking up topics of women, work, sexuality, and time travel.And she’s currently working on her second book exploring her conception of the Anti-Pygmalion in representations of women in art and popular culture with a focus on the practices of working-class cultural workers in Britain. This episode was produced in partnership with Procreate Project
In Woman Up! Series 4 episode 2 we talked to Sasha Kanster, external affairs manager and educational projects manager for the Feminist Workshop organisation based in Lviv, Ukraine. .Sasha says ' I think a lot of people will find there is no space for art, they will need to do more practical things and feel pressure about it …. But some people also understand that art is the only way that we can deal with trauma at a collective level. I don't think we can go as a whole country to therapy! But art will allow us to work through this experience.'.For more info about their work during the war and to donate please visit: episode was produced in partnership with Procreate Project
In this first episode of our re-launch we interviewed Annya Sand co-founder of the WAAW London a new initiative aiming to create more representation for female artists inviting London Art's galleries and non-commercial art institutions to exclusively showcase women artists during the week of the 8th  to 15th of June.'What I try to do is to find a sustainable solution to the lack of representation of female artists... If a gallery says no to us we don’t let them off the hook so easily, and I believe we have right to do so. We would ask them to exhibit female artists at another time in the year and perhaps host a talk to highlight and talk about the important of representation of female artists. We offer our platform to advertise this potential initiative throughout the year so that galleries feel encouraged to make their programme more inclusive….By improving the situation for female artists we are ultimately improving the generation that is being brought up by them, and in turn our societies mental state and outlook of what’s fair and what's not' - Annya SandThis episode was produced in partnership with Procreate Project.
Leni Dothan is an Israeli-born artist, architect and researcher based in London, dealing with the overlooked representations of women – especially mothers – in art history and contemporary culture. Through the prism of a mother to a boy, a foreigner in the West, she creates sculptures, photographs, videos and installations that suggest new narratives other than the perfect and ideal mother-and-child relationship. Dothan completed her MFA and PhD at the Slade School of Fine Art, London. Leni also works collaboratively with scientists to raise awareness on eco-political subjects and environmental issues. Dothan presents her work around the world in galleries and museums and she is represented by MTArt Agency. Leni has also shown her work 'Mine'(2012) and 'Double'(2015) at the Desperate Artwives 'The M Word' exhibition at One Paved Court gallery in 2019. 
Lauren Craig (She/her/hers) is a social-media shy, internet-curious cultural futurist based in London. Her practice draws on her experiences as an artist, curator, researcher, birth/death doula and celebrant. She has founded and directed five creative organisations with a background in ethical, social and environmental entrepreneurship and reproductive justice. Her practice moves with slow depth between performance, installation, art writing, moving image and photography. Through archival socialisation, she elevates lived experience as a tool for reframing past and present underexposed narratives. Through collaborative live engagement Craig invites us to presence conditions for ethical cultural memory.Craig's current project Rendering Experience takes a revisionist approach to Maud Sulter's book Passion: Discourses on Blackwomen's Creativity (1990), investigating the art historical legacy, impact and potential curatorial futures inspired by this formative yet overlooked text. Passion has featured in previously co-curated exhibitions The Rita Keegan Archive (Project) (RKAP) at South London Gallery, (2020) Show and Tell, The Women's art Library (2015). Forthcoming works, publications and events include collaborations with Feminist Review, Photofusion, Eastside Projects, The Womens' Art Library and Arts Catalyst. She is a member of RKAP, a social history and curatorial collective whose activities include the publication Mirror Reflecting Darkly, MIT Press and Goldsmiths May 2021 and exhibition Between There and Here at South London Gallery in September 2021 and.She has an MA in Enterprise and Management for Creative Arts from the University of the Arts London. Craig will continue her practice-based research as part of Syllabus VI 2020/21 and the Royal College of Art 2021/22.Edits:1) Lauren mentions the British Art Network initially (around the 13:17min mark and again at 19:07min), but then referred to them ongoing as British Artwork, rather than the complete title British Art Network. 2)  At 13:07 and 13:36 when Lauren mentions "Women's Work Project", she meant to say "Group Work in the Women's Art Library"
Felicity Allen is a British artist and writer who makes paintings, books and films, often collaboratively. Her current work is mainly focussed on two durational projects. For one she is developing her concept of the Disoeuvre (as a feminist alternative to conventional ideas of an artist’s oeuvre); for the other she produces series of Dialogic Portraits. She has just completed her most recent Dialogic Portraits project, including her film Figure to Ground: a site losing its system (trailer:, with the cross-disciplinary research project People Like You: Contemporary Figures of Personalisation . Her current work on the Disoeuvre involves a study group with the Women’s Art Library archive at Goldsmiths. She outlined the concept in her PhD (2016), since when she has made a film and a series of prints, as well as the artists book The Disoeuvre: an Argument in 4 Voices (WASL Table); 6:27, (Ma Bibliothèque, 2019).She continues to work with the literary, activist, walking organisation Refugee Tales , for whom she made Dialogic Portraits postcards last summer when Lockdown made mass walking impossible. Recent exhibitions of her work have been at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham; x-hibit, Vienna; and Resort, Margate. For most of her working life Felicity has been involved in informal and higher education and, having run the education department at Tate Britain, published a series of articles on gallery education, and edited the Whitechapel/MIT Documents of Contemporary of Art book Education (2012). For more info see photographic work, Baby II, is currently on show in the Ikon Gallery’s exhibition A Very Special Place: Ikon in the 1990s. 
Desperate Artwives Woman Up! podcast takeover Stopping the Fucking Wheel.Original broadcasted live at the Missing Mother conference (University of Bolton, UK) on Friday 23rd April 2021.Missing Mother conference in collaboration with Desperate Artwives present a special ‘takeover’ woman up! episode in the form of a semi structured panel talk discussion focused on the development and continued need for women led platforms and organizations supporting artists who are also mothers and carers over the past 10 years.Panellists: Martina Mullaney (Enemies of Good Art), Amy Dignam (Desperate Artwives), Paula McCloskey (A placeSEE DETAILS The post Woman UP! Podcast Series 3, takeover episode. ‘Stopping the Fucking Wheel’ – Desperate Artwives takeover The Missing Mother Conference appeared first on Desperate Artwives.
Woman Up! Special Episode ‘An Urgent Response’Shira Richter  –  ‘The Conflict in the Middle East, a Mothernist Perspective’Due to the current terrorising and violent  situation in the middle east we have decided to make an urgent response woman up episode and offered Shira Richter, old time friend, colleague, supporter and also collaborator of our project, a safe space to talk openly about everyday life in Israel right now, as she experiences it. A life under both external and internal violence, a life of being hyper-vigilant and of being on edgeSEE DETAILS The post Woman UP! Podcast Series 3, Special Episode ‘An Urgent Response’ – Shira Richter ‘The conflict in the Middle East, a Mothernist perspective’ appeared first on Desperate Artwives.
Woman Up! Series 3, episode 4. Megan Wynne  –  ‘The Body as a Site for Mothering and Art’Megan Wynne is a conceptual artist based in Chesapeake, Virginia who investigates of maternal mental health, ambivalence, the shifting power dynamic of the mother-child relationship, and prevailing notions of what embodies a “good” mother.Using her body as a site to explore the innate interdependence and vulnerability of mother and child, her process involves the act of relinquishing control in experimental collaborative per- formative scenarios with her three children. These ideas are expressed in often-convergingSEE DETAILS The post Woman UP! Podcast Series 3, episode 4 – Megan Wynne ‘The Body as a Site for Mothering and Art’ appeared first on Desperate Artwives.
Woman Up! Series 3, episode 3. Ruchika Wason Singh  – ‘Mapping Mother Artists in Asia’ Ruchika Wason Singh is a visual artist, art educator and independent researcher based in Delhi. She has widely exhibited in South -East Asia and also participated in international artist residency programs. Ruchika has been a U.G.C doctoral research fellow at the University of Delhi. In 2016 she initiated A.M.M.A.A.- The Archive for Mapping Mother Artists in Asia. She is also involved in organising alternative art activities at Critical Dialogues Art Space, Delhi. Ruchika has been an AssociateSEE DETAILS The post Woman UP! Podcast Series 3, episode 3 – Ruchika Wason Singh ‘Mapping Mother Artists in Asia’ appeared first on Desperate Artwives.
Woman Up! Series 3, episode 2. Nicola Hunter – CENSORSHIP, BODIES and VULNERABILITY Artist and activist, Nicola Hunter was born in north east England (UK), began their path in fine arts and has since been performing and showing work nationally and internationally for over a decade. Hunter has seen international success as founder of intersectional feminist project Raising the Skirt and continues to develop a queer feminist arts and photographic practice, which is rooted in action based performance and spans live work, documentations of its products & traces and the re-presentation ofSEE DETAILS The post Woman UP! Podcast Series 3, episode 2 – Nicola Hunter ‘Censorship, Bodies and Vulnerability’ appeared first on Desperate Artwives.
Woman Up! Series 3, episode 1. Jodie Hawkes – MOTHER TROUBLE MAKERS Jodie is one half of performance duo Search Party. Formed in 2005 Search Party’s work has encompassed theatre, live art, durational performance, participatory art, home video and performative writing.  Search Party have made performances for theatres, galleries, public squares, 24-hour parties, high streets, village fetes, parks, shopping centres, across rivers, between bridges and along seafronts. Jodie is a Senior Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Chichester. Her research Playing Kate focuses on maternal performance and class.  https://www.playingkate.coFor subtitled version  The post Woman UP! Podcast Series 3, episode 1 – Jodie Hawkes ‘Mother Trouble Makers’ appeared first on Desperate Artwives.
The post Woman UP! Podcast Series 2, Episode 1 – Martina Mullaney appeared first on Desperate Artwives.
It is with immense pleasure that  we present you with this year 13th and last Woman Up! podcast  introducing Professor Jaqueline Rose. Jaqueline Rose is a Co-Director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and Director of the London Critical Theory Summer School.She is internationally known for her writing on feminism, psychoanalysis, literature and the politics and ideology of Israel-Palestine.  Her books include Sexuality in the Field of Vision (1986, Verso Radical Thinkers, 2006), The Haunting of Sylvia Plath (1991), States of Fantasy (1996), The Question of Zion (2005), The Last Resistance (2007), Proust Among the Nations – from Dreyfus toSEE DETAILS The post Woman UP! Podcast Episode 13 – Jaqueline Rose appeared first on Desperate Artwives.
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