Desperate Artwives: Mothers who create art behind closed doors

Being a working mum means that anything other than earning a living and caring for children is usually pushed aside. At least that’s the picture for many of us. Yet having young children so often brings about a burst in creativity. Perhaps it’s the shift in our priorities, the fresh perspective that children bring or just reconnecting with the way we were ourselves as children.

I experienced this myself but not being especially artistic, for me it was an urge to write, communicate, teach and be entrepreneurial. But many mums are artistic and find themselves desperate for a creative outlet. Conceptual artist Any Dignam is a mother of two who was in exactly this situation. That’s why she has created Desperate Artwives.

Amy graduated from Central St Martin in 2005. Dictated by the need to support herself financially and by the fact that job prospects for conceptual artists are not exactly flourishing, Amy ended up having to take up a job that is not even remotely near her artistic ambitions. A few years on and Amy is now married, has two gorgeous girls and is still in the same job. She is a housewife, mother and part-time employee, but at heart she is also an artist who is looking for an opportunity to keep her passion going.

Meditating on her situation, Amy realised that there are plenty of women in exactly the same situation – women that continue to produce incredible work behind closed doors while they feed their babies, support their husbands and chase a job that pays the bills but doesn’t satisfy their creative needs. These women need a voice and an outlet.

What if we created a movement to celebrate these talented women? What if we could find a way to collect the work of these women and then look for an opportunity to exhibit their work? In answering these questions, Amy created ‘Desperate Artwives‘, a movement, a website and a collection of work that will eventually be sifted and shortlisted for a London exhibition.

Although in its very early stages, Desperate Artwives has already caught the attention of the Women’s Art Library and other associations who have shown interest to support Amy’s initiative. These are exciting times for DAW and, as it is gathering momentum, it would be great to give it as much support as possible.

So, if you are a creative woman with a passion for art (any type of media accepted) and you’re also a mother or wife who doesn’t currently work in the art industry, but continues to produce excellent work that could be showcased at the Desperate Artwives exhibition, then take part! Amy is currently collecting and showcasing on the website the work sent by artists. As soon as a London venue has been secured, a deadline will be released and the exhibition date announced (2012). Amy will curate the exhibition and get in touch with all the artists selected to take part.

Amy says “If you are not a creative type, but love this initiative or know people who have the means to support this initiative in any way (i.e. by blogging, tweeting, ‘facebooking’, or even by sponsoring it), then please do.”

For more information, please visit:

Thanks to Elisabetta Cirulli from Linen &Silk Wedding for help with this article and the photo courtesy of Jas Townsend & Son, Inc.

2 Replies to “Desperate Artwives: Mothers who create art behind closed doors”

  1. Hi Helen,
    Thank you for the mention! Really appreciated.
    I’m glad you too are behind this initiative. I’m a wife myself who works a day job to pay the bills, but who would love to do something completely different (wedding planning and blogging). Realistically, however, taking the leap right now may not be the right thing for me, so Amy’s initiative really struck a chord with me, as within myself I harbour a career that I’d like to nurture more. I hope more and more women will join in and send their amazing work.

    Have a fabulous day,


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