While balancing unpaid emotional and domestic labour with full time paid work, Emma O’Brien placed her photographic practice on hold. It was an indulgence she couldn't afford, Motherhood demanded this sacrifice. As her child grew, influenced by Matricentric Feminisim and working with a feminist concept of intersubjectivity, “how to care for another and one’s self”, she began carving the time to explore her role as mother and artist. In The Holding Place she finds the quiet moments, the silence and tenderness absent from the intense days of working and mothering. Photographing her everyday, and using her archival smartphone images, Emma celebrates mothering and calls out motherhood.
The Holding Place is a meditation on the physical, psychological and political landscape of Motherhood. The small world that is inhabited, the recurring daily routines, the scant time available, and the intimacy of the mother child relationship all shape the work. Feminism has moved womens life so far so quickly outside the home, but little has changed inside the home. In the work the personal and political blur, She hints at her simmering rage and frustration borne by the imbalances of motherhood while also proclaiming her feelings of love and devotion. In this project Emma aims to show the value of caring and nurturing, while exposing the patriarchal capitalist structures that impose an experience of entrapment on mothers. The work reveals that while motherhood undoubtedly gives a great deal, it also takes something valuable away.