Holding Time

The experience of motherhood has been described as situating women outside the boundaries of linear, modernist time resulting in potentially a loss of agency (being unable to fit into the working world, for example) and being constrained to a ‘nether-land’ or liminal time and space until ‘normal time’ is returned[1].


Holding Time is an exhibition about Motherhood and Time. Featuring portraits of twenty three mothers created over a period of nearly three years, this groundbreaking work is an attempt to capture the experience of breastfeeding from a mothers point of view. With an animation , still images and interviews, this is a celebration of breastfeeding that will encourage debate. Despite accumulated evidence of the physical, emotional and mental health benefits to the child, as well as the environmental and social benefits, in a society preoccupied with economic growth the time saving arguments in favour of bottle-feeding remain a major obstacle to higher rates of breastfeeding.

Each mother is accompanied by a digitally created 'Timepiece' of Creagh's invention. This 'right-brained clock' is based on an ancient Cosmatesque design, found on the floor of the Sistine Chapel. By contextualising breastfeeding mothers within this older decorative tradition, Creagh shows time spent breastfeeding as slower, deeper and fuller than 'normal' time. This work seeks to recontextualise motherhood and breastfeeding in particular as an active, rather than passive activity, one that aligns mother and child with an older, and more universal time system and disrupts dominant western understandings of time.

The range of mothers is deliberately broad in scope. Mothers range in age from early twenties to mid forties, with children aged from a few weeks to up to three and a half. There are tandem feeding mothers (mothers feeding two children simultaneously), single mothers and mothers of sick children. All are shot in the same way: against a neutral dark background in lighting reminiscent of Renaissance paintings.

The exhibition incorporates installation, moving image and animation. It can be shown as a six screen installation, or a set of still images, accompanied by a single screen version of the animation.

The development of the work is promoted using a specially created online Social Enterprise  called The Parlour. Including interviews with the participating mothers, and a blog written by  Sociologist and collaborator, Lucila Newell, The Palour is used to distribute the ideas and themes  of Holding Time  to an international audience.  

With the cooperation of breastfeeding mothers, composer Helen Anahita Wilson, my glass making collaborator Mike Barrett and sociologist Lucila Newell, this project is a large collaboration.
 
Follow this project on my Facebook page and twitter account.

Download current Press release 9.pdf

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  • A short film made by rb&hArts about the Holding Time project at Royal Brompton hospital
    24/04/2016
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    Holding Time at Royal Brompton Hospital
    A short film made by rb&hArts about the Holding Time project at Royal Brompton hospital
  • Over the past few weeks I have been at the gallery every day. Sometimes I just sat on the beanbags and enjoyed the quiet. Other days I had others to join me: Lucila came almost every day. Many mothers came with their children. But also quite a few fathers.
    29/03/2013
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    Thoughts on ONCA
    Over the past few weeks I have been at the gallery every day. Sometimes I just sat on the beanbags and enjoyed the quiet. Other days I had others to join me: Lucila came almost every day. Many mothers came with their children. But also quite a few fathers.
  • As part of the Holdng time Project, these interviews with participating mothers provide background on their experiences breastfeeding
    30/03/2014
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    Mother Interviews
    As part of the Holdng time Project, these interviews with participating mothers provide background on their experiences breastfeeding
  • 24/04/2016
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    Holding Time at Royal Brompton Hospital, April 2018
    Holding Time is a multi-screen installation featuring animation, stills and video. Using material created over the past three years of breastfeeding mothers.
  • I’m a mother and my daughter is 5 and a half. I had a tricky time breastfeeding. You can read more about this experience here when you have time as the story is Loooong and sad, kind of. Although now I’m doing this work for a few years I realize that my story is quite typical of many women’s experiences But that’s skipping forward. So I decided to do something, given my skills set, it was probably going to be photography…I was amazed by how little support there was for breastfeeding. And I was also amazed by breastfeeding. It blew me away.
    19/02/2018
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    Parenting Science Gang, April 2018
    I’m a mother and my daughter is 5 and a half. I had a tricky time breastfeeding. You can read more about this experience here when you have time as the story is Loooong and sad, kind of. Although now I’m doing this work for a few years I realize that my story is quite typical of many women’s experiences But that’s skipping forward. So I decided to do something, given my skills set, it was probably going to be photography…I was amazed by how little support there was for breastfeeding. And I was also amazed by breastfeeding. It blew me away.
  • Mark Aitken examines the relationship between photography and sound. Today’s guests are Lisa Creagh who is known for transferring houses into light boxes and a dialogue between photography, digital imaging and painting along with collaborator and composer Helen Anahita Wilson.
    30/03/2014
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    There Then, Hear Now: Resonance FM, March 2018
    Mark Aitken examines the relationship between photography and sound. Today’s guests are Lisa Creagh who is known for transferring houses into light boxes and a dialogue between photography, digital imaging and painting along with collaborator and composer Helen Anahita Wilson.
  • During the Making Space Residency at Fabrica Gallery in 2018, Lisa Creagh and Christiane Monarchi held a conversation about the ideas behind the Holding Time project.
    30/03/2014
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    In Conversation, Fabrica Gallery, 2018
    During the Making Space Residency at Fabrica Gallery in 2018, Lisa Creagh and Christiane Monarchi held a conversation about the ideas behind the Holding Time project.
  • During the Holding Time exhibition at ONCA Gallery in 2018, Lisa Creagh and Parlour CoFounder Lucilla held a conversation about the ideas behind the Parlour and Holding Time
    30/03/2014
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    In Conversation, ONCA Gallery, 2018
    During the Holding Time exhibition at ONCA Gallery in 2018, Lisa Creagh and Parlour CoFounder Lucilla held a conversation about the ideas behind the Parlour and Holding Time
  • This month Lisa Creagh will present her newest project ‘Holding Time’ at Fabrica, Brighton, as a multi-screen installation featuring animation, stills and video. Using material created over the past three years of breastfeeding mothers, this installation will test a working method of showing stop motion portraits alongside an abstract ‘time map’ based on Cosmatesque designs.
    19/02/2018
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    PhotoMonitor, January 2018
    This month Lisa Creagh will present her newest project ‘Holding Time’ at Fabrica, Brighton, as a multi-screen installation featuring animation, stills and video. Using material created over the past three years of breastfeeding mothers, this installation will test a working method of showing stop motion portraits alongside an abstract ‘time map’ based on Cosmatesque designs.
  • Photography, Motherhood and Time in Lisa Creagh's Holding Time. Urging a new conception of time as experienced by breastfeeding mothers, Creagh's work goes on show at Fabrica on 18 January, then moves to ONCA Gallery and Royal Brompton Hospital, London
    19/02/2018
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    British Journal of Photography, January 2018
    Photography, Motherhood and Time in Lisa Creagh's Holding Time. Urging a new conception of time as experienced by breastfeeding mothers, Creagh's work goes on show at Fabrica on 18 January, then moves to ONCA Gallery and Royal Brompton Hospital, London
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© Lisa Creagh 2018