A performing arts creative development engaging artists who are mothers to explore and research the experience of mental load.

STAGE ONE: February – May 2018
Core performing artists (Julie Wadington, Bryony Geeves, Mel King, Carrie McLean and Rebecca Thomson)  collaborated and led investigation through a series of creative practice workshops and online interaction. Artist mothers from across Tasmania (and Australia) were able to engage with the project and have creative input in a way that suited them without negatively adding to their mental load. Outcomes and future plans were shared at the end of the development with participants and industry peers.  See our new project website for photos and videos about the workshops:

STAGE TWO: late 2018 – 2019
See our new project website for more information

The term mental load has been made popular recently by French Comic Artist Emma.  The cartoon describes the experience of many mothers as being the household project officer who not only (often) does the bulk of the household work but also manages everything from grocery lists to children’s immunisations. Due to this management responsibility it is estimated that women do 75% of the household work even when their partner does a reasonable share of chores.

There is one phrase in the comic that resonated for me as both a mother and an artist who mostly self generates her own projects.

“Once I started managing projects, I quickly stopped participating in them. I didn’t have the time.”

This phrase instilled a sense of fear in me. In the past I have experienced the detriment of my work as director when I have also been the producer. Now I am most afraid of no longer participating in my children’s lives, of not being present as their mother because I am too busy making sure everything is ok for them, that they have everything they need. When ironically one of the things they need the most is me – their mother.

I am far from alone in this predicament. Juggling the everyday mental load of motherhood alongside the need to earn a living and/or maintain a sense of self through creative practice is overwhelming. To be your best as a performing artist you must be present with your ensemble/creative team. To be your best as a mother you must be present with your children. But, more often than not, there are conflicting demands on your energy and time that take you away from your best.

This project will provide much needed creative engagement for artists who find themselves isolated from their practice due to their role as mothers. This engagement will ask questions and share stories of the experience of mental load and celebrate resilience of mothers.

The core team of performing artists will collaborate to share responsibility in shaping and delivering the project. Sharing responsibility will provide in built support for each artist in the core team plus a tribes worth of experience and knowledge to the project. The core team are:

  • Julie Waddington – mother of two, director, dramaturge, producer, teaching artist, theatre maker.
  • Mel King – mother of three, actor, puppeteer, director, theatre maker.
  • Carrie MacLean – mother of four, writer, actor, director, theatre maker.
  • Bryony Geeves – mother of one, actor, puppeteer, theatre maker.
  • Rebecca Thomson – mother of four, film director, producer, writer.

Join our lively (closed) fb group Mental – The Mother Load Project>


image L-R: Carrie McLean, Bryony Geeves, Julie Waddington and Mel King