The Pram in the Hall

The writer and critic Cyril Connolly once said that ‘there is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall’. This is why, as an artist who is also the main carer for two small children, I am so pleased that Malcolm Maclaren invented the pushchair.

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I’ve been working as an artist for 20 years. For the last four of these I’ve also been looking after at least one child.

I look back on the first 16 years of my artistic practice as a period when, frankly, I wasted an awful lot of time. My studio was occasionally a place of artistic creation, but it was also the venue for some lengthy struggles with the daily crossword and some even more lengthy afternoon naps.

If I used my time as effectively then as I do today, I can’t help feeling that I would now be further along the path to fame and fortune.

An hour and a half is just about the longest I get to spend in my studio these days, brief working stints that I sneak while my one-year-old son has his morning nap and my daughter is at the local playgroup. However, the techniques that I employ to make my work mean that painting in short, 30-minute bursts is actually sufficient time to get an awful lot done. No need to watch paint dry these days. Pour some paint, then off to hang out the washing/change a nappy/make a pancake.

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This is why, far from being a creative hiatus, the last four years have actually been busier than ever, with time-consuming solo shows, more sales and lots of new paintings wrapped and ready to go. (I’ve also co-created some spectacular Lego installations and helped to cover an entire house in glitter.)

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Now that I’m only doing art and childcare (see ‘Time Well Spent’), and with Child One off to school soon and Child Two taking over playgroup duties, it feels like this is the time to really make it work. If this summer of focused painting and writing is teaching me anything, it’s that you can achieve a great deal in three hours if you sense the clock ticking.

I miss the crossword and I certainly miss my afternoon naps, but I’ve got work to do.

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