The mother lode project

Mother lode: a principal vein or zone of gold or silver ore, or colloquially the real/imaginary origin of something valuable or in great abundance. [Wikipedia]

The aim of this project is to extract the gold from challenging experiences of motherhood by giving opportunities for artists who are mothers to work with those who may be experiencing mental health difficulties as a result of motherhood. This will involve a series of art & writing workshops in Hastings led by artist-mothers for a group of mothers referred by Recovery Partners, resulting in an exhibition & publication of their work, which will raise awareness of the hidden issues surrounding motherhood & mental health. The project aims to give voice to a diverse group of mothers at all stages of motherhood, whose experiences may not otherwise be heard & connect with professional women artists exploring motherhood. Anyone who identifies as a mother is welcome.

Women artists are still underrepresented in the art world & those who are mothers face additional barriers to creating work, so we aim to champion their work & increase visibility & confidence. The project will employ women artists who are mothers, which will raise their profile in the local community & celebrate their roles both as artists and as mothers. The project was created & will be managed by Xaverine M A Bates, who wants to channel her experiences as a mother with bipolar disorder & use this to enable others to express difficult/taboo feelings about motherhood, in order to help others overcome challenges through different creative media.

The aim is to enable mothers who are struggling with mental health issues to tell their stories in ways that have both artistic quality & therapeutic benefit in order to raise awareness of the hidden challenges of motherhood, to help others understand & empathise with these issues. There is more work to be done in raising awareness of the mental health challenges that many mothers face & we are researching other projects championing artist-mothers e.g. Spilt Milk, Procreate Project, Mothers Who Make etc.

 Project outline

  • 12 free workshops for up to 15 participants fortnightly at an accessible community centre in Hastings over 6 months by different artists, focusing on their specialism e.g. drawing, writing, puppet-making, book-making, screenprinting, photography etc with informal drop-in sessions in interim weeks. Workshops will be co-facilitated by the project coordinator, a lead artist/writer & two peer support workers for emotional support. Childcare bursaries or crèche available for mothers with children aged 0-5 depending on participants’ needs.
  • Within the workshops, participants will share experiences in a safe space, focusing on a lifetime of mothering not just pregnancy & birth, exploring expectations vs reality & resultant impact on mental health.
  • Efforts will be made to reach a diverse group of mothers in Hastings & Rother incl. LGBTQIA+, women of colour, bereaved, adoptive, refugee/migrant, disabled/autistic & mothers of disabled children.


A series of drawings, photographs, poems & stories compiled in an exhibition, book & online. There will also be a performance of Sparkly Bird, written & directed by Kat Lee-Ryan, as part of the book launch, which tells the story of a mother suffering from post-natal depression.