Featured Artist : Bonnie Doman

On her work’s past, present and future

PAST: I did a one year foundation course in Art at Kingston College and from there I went on to do a degree in Visual Communication at Camberwell College of Art. We all left with no real skills to speak of (there was only one computer between all of us)  but we did leave with the ability to think sideways about things which proved very useful when I landed a job in Advertising with my twin sister shortly afterwards. We worked as a creative team ( I was the Art Director, she was the writer) for 12 years working on all sorts of campaigns for big brands like Mars, Sainsbury’s and Volvo. It’s was a very fun, crazy time but also incredibly stressful and once I had my first child I just couldn’t see how I could make both work, having a family and working the hours I used to do. Once my second child was born I knew I’d made the right choice not going back.
 
PRESENT: I now mainly work with Advertising Production Companies along side their Directors helping put together their visual ideas for TV commercials. I do image research, put together visuals in Photoshop and use my illustration and photography skills. It’s very full on but for only a few days at a time. As I’m freelance I can also work on my own projects, like illustration. I’m very lucky that every job I do is different. I’ve just launched a range of alternative valentines postcards with my sister, well they are not just for valentines but for love anytime and for anyone who’s partner spends too much time on social media. Our husbands say they are a bit autobiographical!
 
FUTURE:I’d love to do more illustration work. I don’t really have a style as I tend to go with what fits the brief the best. I used to draw pet portraits on to ceramic plates, for example, they were hugely popular. I would like to get better at using Illustrator but then again I like just being able to pick up a pencil and sketch something. I’m talking with a few shops to stock the cards I’ve produced with my sister which is great and I’d like to make more things with her. I would like to work on more collaborations actually as it can be very lonely working by yourself all day. I’d like to get a puppy to keep me company but I’m terrified it will be like having a third child or I won’t get any work done I’ll just spend all day drawing it!… if it sat still long enough.
To see more of Bonnie’s work visit www.bonniedoman.com
Share:

‘Whatever you do don’t fall for him, he’s bad news’

Dear Paul,

‘Whatever you do don’t fall for him, he’s bad news,’ my friend said as we talked about you a couple of days after we’d met. You conformed to many negative male stereotypes- a singer in a band, a ladies man, dangerous and rebellious. You were (and are) quiet and I interpreted this quiet for something deep and mysterious.

In actuality you are just quiet and that’s okay.

We’ve been together for nineteen years this month. On our first date I was so nervous that I dropped my matches all over the floor of the pub. You waited six months and then told me you hated smoking and always had. I’d only been trying to be cool.

I will never be as cool as you and that’s okay.

I love that you can cook so I never have to burn food anymore. I love the way you are with Rae. I love the feeling of safety I get when you arrive home. I love that you sort out all the details so I don’t have to think about it.

(I also love your bum and it cheers me up on gloomy mornings when you clamber out of bed to make a cup of tea).

Love is not about changing someone to fit your ideal.

You’re quiet and cool. I’m loud and not. And that’s perfect you see.

Anniki xx

Photo: Anniki Sommerville

Written by Anniki Sommerville for her husband Paul. Anniki is Super Editor at Selfish Mother (where you can also read more of her brilliant work) or follow her on Instagram.

Share:

Featured Artist : Laxmi Hussain

On her work’s past, present and future 

Past

I’ve drawn for as long as I can remember…one of my earliest memories being recognised for my art was when I won a prize for a Christmas card design where they loved how innovative my design was.
I’d used a sheet of the mathematics paper, the ones which have grids of shapes (this one was triangles) and created a reindeer and star out of triangles – I was invited to City Hall in the middle of Victoria to be awarded – quite cute looking back on it.
I can’t remember not ever being creative, when I was younger I would paint elaborate birthday cards for friends in watercolour, making handmade envelopes. I’d also often paint small canvases for friends and family as birthday gifts.
Growing up though I always thought I was going to be a…..surgeon – Lets just say my dreams were crushed one day as a young girl by surgeon who took a look at my hands and told me I didn’t possess a surgeon’s hands! Imagine that….
Whilst I always had an academic head, I never stopped pursuing my creative endeavours, looking back on it, my passions shone brightly through in my art.
I excelled in sciences and maths but I was also amongst 3 students to have the largest allocated art space at the end of year shows in both textiles and fine art.
Crushed I wasn’t meant for surgery, I chose to study architecture. My parents always encouraged us to pursue academic paths so Architecture seemed to be the perfect balance.
Whilst I loved studying the subject there were always constraints and being an artist provides a freedom like no other – so long story short, I graduated and then decided I was going to get a job until I decided what I wanted to really pursue.
I’d not really drawn in the years after graduating and between having Zain I did what many young graduates do, travelled a bit, went out drinking a lot, fell in and out of love, or lust.
When I found out I was pregnant with Zain, a lot of that changed, I calmed, slowed down, enjoyed a new life and when he arrived….something else entirely!

Nothing can quite prepare you for the whirlwind of love and fatigue and worry and overwhelming emotions that sweep you up and change your very bones.

Whilst my work today doesn’t directly show many connections to motherhood, every stroke, every line, every ink blot is only because of motherhood.
It is because of Zain I started drawing again, to do something with him and also to show him there was more to me and now that inspires me to keep showing both my kids that you can be whoever you want to be.

Present

 

Personally, a lot of exploration.
I want to stop making art for art’s sake.
I need it to have a personal journey of exploration, I started with my warped idea of the perfect body and have begun a journey of self discovery and acceptance.
Sharing these drawings have helped me to understand that the perfect body does not exist and is starting to change my perception of myself, the most endearing thing is that others have wanted to dip in to this, shared my drawings, interpret them in their own way….
I’ve also had the opportunity to be approached by a few brands, old clients, and new clients asking me to work on their branding.
Whilst I’ve worked in branding and curation for some years, I’ve never really thought of this as a talent, more a skill, but practicing skills that you are good at can be so rewarding.

Future

I’m coming to a halt on the exploration of my own body and I think I want to understand bodies in a different way.
What do I not appreciate that I should?
What do we refuse to acknowledge?
If I re-engage with my inner woman, can I educate others on real world issues which are harder to address?
Three years ago I was asked to contribute to RoadFemme, a Zine a friend of mine started covering all walks of women’s issues from a humanitarian aspect.
I for some reason had stumbled across a documentary on female genital mutilation and decided I somehow had to contribute a piece on this topic, my drawing was of a young girl lying down, tear in her eye, with the words above her ‘Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.’
I have this idea in my head, that I can somehow connect our own feelings about the things we do not talk about to appreciate these things in a new way and maybe then, we might be on our way to helping address some of these issues…
To see more of Laxmi’s work visit www.thislakshmi.com
Share:

I’ll go right back to the beginning

To my B,
This is, I hope, the first of many letters I shall write to you over the coming years. What they shall contain is currently a mystery, but I envisage them being full of memories, thoughts, feelings and maybe even some advice?! There is so much that has happened and will happen that you aren’t and won’t be aware of. What better way to share these things with you than to write them down for you to have when you are ready for them.

This being the first, I feel it should be something epic and meaningful! After all, 18 months have now passed since you entered our world and turned it upside down. That’s a lot of stuff to fit into one letter, so I won’t try to cover all of it in one go! Especially as some of the things that have happened over that time will require their own, special letters. For this first one, I’ll go right back to the beginning. I say the beginning, but this journey started for us long before your ‘beginning’. We decided that we wanted to extend our family but then had 4 very long years of waiting for you to turn up – as we are discovering, you like to take your time over the important things in life (18 months and only just walking, and still no talking!) – and those 4 years were tough. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as awful as it could have been – others have it a lot worse. In comparison to people we know and stories we have heard, ours wasn’t full of the heartache that some have to face on their journey to becoming parents. That doesn’t mean we didn’t struggle – when you want something so desperately and no matter what you do and try nothing seems to work, it’s really difficult. There were days when I felt so guilty for not being able to make your Daddy a Daddy that all I could do was sit and cry. And days when I so desperately wanted to hear the words “You’re going to be a Mum” that I wasn’t able to function or concentrate on anything else. It got to the point where we’d given up – we decided to treat ourselves to lots of expensive holidays and get a dog. Not quite the same, but we felt we’d pressed the pause button on our lives for too long – we had to face the fact we weren’t going to be parents and try and live a different life to the one we had hoped for. And then, after feeling sick for a few weeks and still waiting for Aunt Flo to appear (I’ll explain all about that when you are older!) I had a conversation one night with my two best friends that went something like this:

“Are you sure you’re not pregnant?”
“Well, I haven’t done a test, as I doubt I am and I don’t think I can face another negative result” “But it’s your Wedding Anniversary tomorrow – you can’t go away for the weekend, eat and drink what you like without doing a test to make sure”.
“But….”
“Just do. The. Test.”

So I did. On the morning of our 5th Wedding Anniversary. I won’t tell you what I said when the result was positive – you should most definitely not be using words like that – but needless to say, it was a reaction of shock, disbelief and utter amazement! I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. So I went and bought 3 more tests and did 2 of them. And the result was the same. Definitely pregnant. Then, what I should have done of course was phone your Daddy and tell him. But it’s not really the sort of thing you tell someone over the phone while they are at work: “You know the news you’ve been waiting 4 years to hear? Well, it’s happened. You are going to be a Dad”. I couldn’t do it like that – I wanted to see his face when I told him. But, I needed to tell someone – to have them reassure me it was true. So I phoned one of the friends I was with the night before and said “If I’ve done 3 pregnancy tests, and they are all positive, does that mean I am actually pregnant?” After her reassurances that yes, I was, I then thought about how I would tell your Daddy.

He arrived home at lunch time, I didn’t say anything. He changed and packed the car for our weekend away. I didn’t say anything. We drove the 45 minute journey to where we were staying. I didn’t say anything, despite him asking me if everything was ok as I was a bit quiet. We got to the hotel, checked in and found our room. I didn’t say anything. There was a bottle of champagne waiting for us and he asked if I wanted a glass. I said “I better give you this first” and handed him an envelope. Inside it was a card. The card said on the front: “Happy Christmas, Daddy”

(as you know, our Anniversary is in December). Inside the card there was a printed photo I had taken of the positive pregnancy tests. His face was, at first, confused. And then when he read the card which explained what would be happening in about 8 months time, the reality started dawning on him. The joy I felt in that moment is indescribable. I was, at last, able to give him the one thing I had wanted to for such a long, long time – the gift of being a Daddy.

Needless to say, I didn’t drink any champagne that weekend. And I don’t think your Daddy has ever quite forgiven me for the fact that he wasn’t the first person I told about you! I did the other test I had bought the next morning so there was even more evidence for us, as it still hadn’t really sunk in that it was true. In fact, through my whole pregnancy I found it very strange actually being able to say the words “I’m pregnant”. It felt so surreal! And then to actually allow myself to say the words “I’m having a baby” as the time of your arrival grew nearer – well, my heart swelled a little every time I did that. You, my darling girl, are the most precious gift we could ever have asked for. And we are very, very lucky to have you. You took your time, but you were well worth the wait.

Love Mummy xxx

Photo: Nicky Robinson

This beautiful letter was written by Nicky Robinson for her daughter Bethany. You can read more of Nicky’s work on her blog.

 

 

 

 

Artwork featured on the homepage was created by Wonder & Rah for Mère Soeur’s ‘The Art of Motherhood colouring book, a collection of all-girl illustrations based around the ‘themes of motherhood and symbols of sisterhood’. All profits go to Home Start, a leading UK family support charity helping vulnerable families provide a better life for their children.

Share:

You are powerful because you are YOU

To Lolly and Avery:

There’s been much talk, recently, about women and women’s rights. It made me consider the world in which you’ll come of age, and the culture that will surround you. While I can’t predict the state of the world in the next eighteen years, or heck, even four, there are some basic ideas that I’d like for you to consider and employ, if they feel right to you. And some lessons I’ve learned that I hope you never learn for yourself, but can trust me enough to accept as fact.

First, don’t over-pluck your eyebrows. Your natural shape is perfect for your face. If I see you getting a little crazy with the tweezers, I will absolutely hide them and we’ll have a chat about anxiety. In my experience, obsessively over-plucking goes hand and hand will a soul fighting a fear-filled battle for perfection. Your eyebrows are not the place to fight that fight. Leave them alone.

You are not defined by the way you look; the size of your chest; the symmetry of your face; or your weight. Your value is not in how many boys stare at you, though there may be a time when that seems like the only thing that matters. Beauty is not an achievement, but a gift of genes having NOTHING to do with you. Don’t chase that elusive idea of perfection. It does not exist. You are beautiful because beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and I have beheld you every day of your little lives thus far and I find you both gorgeous, inside and out.

Your value is inherently inside you as a creation of The Creator. It can not be diminished or added to. You are already as priceless and perfect as you will ever be. There is nowhere you can go and nothing you can do to change it. You are worth dying for; worth living for; you are everything. You are the apple of Jesus’ eye, exactly as you are. Your degree (or lack thereof) has no bearing on His love and approval (or mine 😁). Getting married will not increase your value, just is getting divorced will not decrease it. Your ability to bear children makes no difference and a barren womb makes you no less.

Speaking of barren womb, if that is what you face, there is no such thing. As a women, you inherently have the ability to give life. You don’t have to grow a child in your body to fulfill that calling. There are children, causes and countries to whom you can give life with your love and attention. You can birth a company, a book, an idea. You can foster, adopt or sponsor children who may only know death without you. Your value as a woman is not tied to your reproductive system- those are simply features of the masterfully crafted shell in which you house your soul and spirit.

You should exercise. You should eat well. You should also eat donuts on occassion.

You should always stand up for yourself, but more importantly, you should always speak up for others. You are not to be walked on, dismissed or demeaned. Oppressive behavior should always be called what it is and may you never, ever tolerate abuse of any kind.

You don’t have to be loud and obnoxious to be show yourself strong. You don’t have to be vulgar and noisy to be taken seriously. You are powerful because you are YOU, not because you are a women, or a wife, or a student or a doctor. You are powerful because you are a human, capable of any and all good for which you have been graced. Your possibilities are endless.

If you ever find yourself in crisis… if a report from pathology comes back with the worst of the worst; if you find yourself on a hijacked plane hurling towards a skyscraper; if your child is dying in your arms; if your cells are multiplying faster than the chemo can kill them; if you are in a relationship with no future; may you always be BRAVE even when it hurts. May you face your storm with determination and resolve to always suffer and end well. May you know exactly who to call in your last moments. May you take your final breathe with satisfaction and joy. May you hear “well done” on the other side.

Never take your privilege and the rights that you enjoy in a country more respectful of women than most for granted. There are countries where women are seen as less than cattle and stoned to death for stepping out of line. You are blessed. You are fortunate.

Read Jim Crow laws and be shocked and appalled at the atrocities perpetuated by others who share your skin tone. You should visit a holocust memorial and tour a concentration camp. You need to know the name “Rodney King” and how four acquittals further divided a divided nation.

Emmett Till. James Chaney. Andrew Goodman. Michael Schwerner. Viola Liuzzo.

You need to know them.

You need to know about female genital mutilation, sex trafficking and all other commonly practiced violations of human rights. May you always be moved to speak against injustice. Remember that seemingly normal humans are capable of enormous hate and prejudice. Choose to stand on the right side of history when the time comes and never be afraid to take a stand.

May you seek to always build your treasure where moth and rust cannot destroy and remember that we are only dust. Our days will end and the world will move on, but the legacy of your life can live on. Live well. Live kindly. Live for others. Live for Jesus.

Work hard. Work smart. Value your family above every other relationship. Take vacations when you can afford them. Remember that your money looks better in your bank account than on your feet. Never settle for any man who loves you less than your Daddy (which is going to make picking a mate a little tricky, since your dad is pretty much enthralled with you both).

You were born to change the world and you will do so, even on the days when you’re changing diapers or wiping snotty noses and you feel as though no one notices or cares.

You are both a dream come true. I will support you no matter what you choose in the days to come and I will love you endlessly, the way only a woman can.

xoxo

Mom

Image: Meg Apperson

This powerful letter was written by mum Meg Apperson for her daughters Lolly and Avery. You can read more about their lives through her blog Four Fine Lives  and on Instagram.

Share: