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The Other Madonna

Developed after a focused period of primary research capturing stories of ‘deviant and othered mothers’  I developed The Other Madonna, a series of medium format life-size photographs.  Taking reference from the symbolism of Madonna and Child, beginning with prominent Renaissance painters including Sassoferatto and Joos Van Cleve through to popular reproductions found on eBay, I am responding to, reimagining and challenging the iconography of this prominent yet problematically narrow image of a mother.

The sitters I have worked in collaboration to challenge, in individual ways,  the version of Mother/Madonna that art history, advertising and media have accustomed us to. The sitters look directly at the camera, addressing the viewer and meeting their gaze, this is critical as historically Madonna’s gaze is often averted whilst the (boy/Jesus) child looks directly at the viewer.

Installation view: Gods House Tower, Southampton, January - March 2023


From Top: The Other Madonna Portraits: Ruth, Eleni & Rachel. Medium format colour photographs, 2022. 

Call for Interviewees 


Motherhood has a mythology, a socio-cultural belief system based on both the fact of motherhood and the perception of it. But who constructs the mythology of motherhood, who does it benefit and who does it exclude? 


A study by Friedman, Weinberg and Pines (1998:78) found that sexuality and motherhood were mutually exclusive in perceptions. In their study, both male and female participants overwhelmingly perceived (based on photographs) that the more sexual a woman appears to be, the less likely it is that she is a ‘good mother’. This is an example of how prevailing mythology tacitly ascribes values to what a mother should or should not be, which are often entirely separated from capacity to nurture, tend and care. My project asks are similar assumptions made about mothers engaged in extreme sports? Dangerous professions? Or living alternative lifestyles? 


I am currently interviewing ‘deviant’ mothers, that is those who recognise themselves as having deviated from socially accepted norms of the mother role and articulate an alternative identity through their activities, lifestyles, gender fluidity, career choices etc. These semi-structured interviews  capture data from mothers (biologically or otherwise) based in locations across the globe.


These interviews will inform the body of work that includes The Other Madonna portraits. 


If you think you might be ‘deviant’ and would like to know more about the project and be willing to be interviewed, please get in touch with me, I’d love to hear from you.

Contact me:



Social: @othermotherproject

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