At home time my youngest son Naoise excitedly handed me an orange covered book with “me, mummy” written on the front that he wants to use to draw pictures of “me in my mummy’s tummy when she was pregnant and him in my tummy when I was pregnant.” In this video Naosie can be seen drawing me developing inside my mum’s tummy. I begin as “just a tiny dot“.


About Helen Sargeant

I am a visual artist, mother of two children aged 12 and 4, and co-founder of the MeWe arts collective. I intend to use this site to explore how my personal experiences as a mother informs my arts practice. To reflect upon the maternal in relationship to memory, loss, and mental health in particu…Read more


More posts by Helen Sargeant

3 Responses to “MSee”

  1. Jodie Hawkes

    This is lovely. I love the value being given to Naoise’s pictures. I find it hard to throw away anything my daughter draws. Piles of paper full of meaning and narrative and memories stacked everywhere. Blobs of paint to anyone else perhaps. I like his offer for you to do the next bit. I recently bought a painting by Mica Angela Hendricks who collaborates with her 4-year-old daughter to finish pictures. It sits in the dining room and reminds me all the time about the process of half finished-ness, of letting go of control, of the freeness of a 4 year old. Naoise’s picture also reminds me of a spider’s web. I was thinking about spiders a lot last week. About the process of matriphagy, or mother-eating. The process where a mother allows the babies to eat her once they are born so that they can feast on her nutritious body for survival. Sacrificing herself as prey to her offspring to wake up the babies hunting instincts, without which, they could not survive. At times during my pregnancy I felt as though my body was giving everything good to the baby and that I was left drained. Fainting all the time. I often thinking now about how much the mother sacrifices or is willing to sacrifice.

  2. Frances Earnshaw

    I like Jodie’s interesting images there. The drawings of our children are indeed very precious. The spiders web is a very significant symbol. I have a couple of Native American Grandmother Spider necklaces, which signify women’s wisdom. The image of our babies eating us, and our giving up the very best of our nutrition into the mouth of the baby also reminds me of ancient mythologies of why the moon is barren. It is because she gave up every last part of herself, at a time of famine, so that her sister (earth) could survive. And this too is born out by what science now knows about the moon. We have been shielded by the moon, against huge meteorites, and space debris and forces from the outer parts of the galaxy. And, the moon is a chunk of earth, mixed with a smashed up planet, sacrificed at the outset, and this, the existence of the moon, helped us to come into existence, to birth as a species. Species need disruption and stress in order to evolve. Our moon was originally much closer to the earth, and her proximity caused the tides of the early seas to rip across the surface of the earth. This, and the movement of tectonic plates, and other disasters and incidents, created the accident of our birth as a species.

  3. Helen Sargeant

    I love the marks and images that my children make- I have piles of the children’s drawings at home. They get shifted from coffee table to dinning table and back again. I find it hard to let go, this is partly why I began using them in my work, it gave me a legitimate excuse to incorporate their ideas within my own. To protect them.

    I wanted to establish creativity as having value- elevating it to a position of importance. Naoise calls himself an artist, which is just great. Naoise is in reception year and is loving the freedom to paint egg boxes, bits of junk and recycling. I find it really frustrating that as children move up through the education system creativity is sidelined in favour of writing and maths. So this is my attempt at readdressing the balance. Letting the children see that I respect and hold their work in high esteem.

    I am not sure at the point at which the collaboration begins and ends. I played a game of visual consequences with Naoise at the weekend. The one where you draw a head fold it over, then the next person draws the body etc. The delight is in opening the folded paper at the end of the game to reveal fantastical figures of chance and imagination. It is this level of collaboration that ideally I would want to achieve. So far the collaboration has been based upon the placement of the children’s drawings within my own- and that I have controlled. I want to work towards relinquishing control finding equity with the children. There is something within this visual dialogue that I am drawn to, maybe its about dissolving the boundaries between the adult and child’s world. Breaking down positions of power. I wonder what this would look like ?

    As to the spiders. The webs proliferate in our house. Sticky eggs have formed above the bathroom window, the baby spiders have hatched, they are welcome in our home.

    Jodie- thanks so much for your helpful words and thoughts. Like Frances I too loved the powerful imagery that you conjured up regarding spiders. It made me think of Louise Bourgeois and her use of the spider motif in her work.

    ” The spider- why the spider ? Because my best friend was my mother and she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, real and as useful as a spider”.
    (Louise Bourgeois,

    Human mothers like spider mothers are self sacrificing especially in those early months after birth- when body and mind are literally pushed to their limits. This conversation also made me think about the pacific octopus, guarding her eggs in her den over a period of six months but gradually starving to death in the process.

    “She constantly waves her arms gently over the plaits of eggs, making sure that nothing harmful settles on them. With her siphon, she blows water gently over them to keep them aerated…she uses her arms to keep potential predators away from the eggs, and as far away from the den as possible…she normally does not leave the den at any time.

    Throughout this whole period of more than half a year, she never eats…All of the energy in her body is slowly consumed by her work until, by the time the offspring emerge, she has nearly starved to death.” (Wendy Williams: Kracken


Leave a Reply