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Review: I Became a Mother, Lasma Poisa at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery

I Became a Mother, at Warrington Art Gallery & Museum, confronts audiences with a behind the scenes look at one of the most important, and least considered, accessibility issues of the art world: motherhood.

Honest representations of motherhood aren’t hard to find, but they’re not often in public view. I write this as a thirty-something-year-old in the art world, and not a mother, so I’m aware of my bias, but also that my take on this show will be one that pulls themes out of motherhood and into more universal reflections. But opportunities for artists in their thirties do dwindle, and when you add the physical and emotional weight of motherhood to that, it can feel like you’re very much alone.

Evening events and exhibition launches seem like distant memories with the strain of real life. Making work, engaging in studio practice, and finding inspiration are just as distant.

Restricted by trappings of time and location, Lāsma Poiša, the artist behind the exhibition, turned to her daughter, her birth, and the ongoing experience of motherhood as inspiration for her work. The raw images of motherhood started as a documentary self-portrait (the artist calls it a family album) but became something more.

They share the reality of being an artist in the middle of real life. The images are as much about the significance of making them as they are about the subject of them.

Being able to continue work, and to self-reflect so beautifully during early motherhood is a powerful achievement, and the photographs are empowering because of it.

The exhibition follows Lāsma Poiša’s award-winning submission to the Warrington Arts

Festival’s Open Exhibition in 2022, which should serve as evidence that when you can find the time to make work about the thing that restricts you from working in ordinary ways, it can be more impactful than what came before.

I imagine that’s partly because of the raw and life-changing experience of raising a child, but it’s also because Lāsma Poiša is giving viewers everything openly and with reason. So what we see begins as self-portraiture but transforms into a very universal feeling of having to push through barriers.

Lāsma Poiša: I Became a Mother is open at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery until 19th May 2024
Words, Kathryn Wainwright
Images, Courtesy of Warrington Museum & Art Gallery