Last week I obsessively washed all of the pillows, cushions, blankets, duvets and bed covers in our house as I discovered that our beloved cat Frida Khalo had a very bad infestation of fleas. I imagined them hopping everywhere, as she loves to sleep on the end of our beds.

Helen Sargeant ©, Spiderboy and the laundry pile, 2013
Helen Sargeant ©, Spiderboy and the Laundry Pile, 2013

I created a beautiful pile of laundry, folding and balancing one item on top of the next. Spider boy helped me place his blue star pillow at the top.

Helen Sargeant ©, Spider Boy and the Laundry Pile, 2013
Helen Sargeant ©, Spider Boy and the Laundry Pile, 2013

I became completely distracted by the laundry. Whilst washing, tumbling, drying and folding, I thought about the challenge of balancing domestic chore’s and caring for my son. How the two activities demand my attention. What is lost by doing too much housework as opposed to care. When the house chores demand so much of me, I feel torn between the children and maintenance.

Helen Sargeant ©, Laundry Pile Creation, 2013
Helen Sargeant ©, Laundry Pile Creation, 2013


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


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3 Responses to “Spider Boy versus the Laundry Pile”

  1. Eti Wade

    The star at the top of the pile makes me think of children putting up the star at the top of the Christmas tree, a mutual celebration of meaningful accomplishment for the family. It also makes me think about the difficulty one has when a child want to ‘help’ with cooking or any other household activity. This normally means the opposite of helping, it slows down the process and requires caring at the same time as working towards a household goal. When there’s no pressure it can be a pleasure but when there’s little time it can be another test!

  2. Helen Sargeant

    You are so perceptive. Its so testing when children want to help, and all the negotiation that has to happen. When taking these photographs the pile of laundry kept falling over when Naoise was helping me, then I had to keep rebuilding the pile to set up the shot. Thinking about it now the failed shots were probably more interesting than these here. Also my mum commented on what a tidy corner of the room this is, i.e. the rest of the bedroom looked like a pig stye. Oh how the camera can tell such lies !
    I need to dig up the christmas tree from our allotment this week. The ground will probably freeze the day that I decide too.
    I love it when you open up the box with all the decorations and there are always those cardboard ones the kids have made years before at primary school.

  3. Char March

    wot a grrrreat idea – to make art out of washing! i am always amazed at how neatly my partner folds all our washing and stacks it so beautifully. but your post will make me appreciate it all the more!


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