Mothering mattering

A collective exploration of public space

2019 – ongoing

The experience of motherhood brought significant and obvious changes in my life, as well as moments of creativity and reflection. Changes to my daily mobility was practically overnight. Walking whilst healing from major surgery, pushing a pram with a week old baby and manouvering inaccessible or non-existent pavements, quickly made me realise how the city adds to the burden faced by pedestrians, particularly of women and children. This growing concern has fueled further my interest regarding mobilities research.

The transition my child experienced from pram to pushchair to walking and cycling has brought several reflections about the experience of walking and how we navigate public space and the changing relationship adult years bring. Our walks are captured through photographs of playful interactions with public space and mixed media artworks co-created with my son.

Peeling paintwork found along a well-trodden path became a much anticipated landmark in our walks, with Tumas recognizing it as an abstract painting, pointing towards it and calling it “Nannu! Nannu!” (Maltese for: Grandpa!) associating the aesthetic with my father’s art, Gabriel Caruana (b. 1929 – d. 2018). Having never met his grandpa, who passed away before he was born, art became a means of connection.

waking – playful – public space

Walks in semi-natural environments, books and bed-time stories became creative tools that inspire me to create mixed media collages together with Tumas.

During our last walk we each focused on our least favourite sense. This gave us the opportunity to tune into sounds, textures, scents and sights that we would have otherwise ignored. From the sound of a pushchair pushed down cobblestones, to the smooth texture of terrazzo cement render, the pungent smell of fuel, the intricate stonemasonary detail of a majestic townhouse, and patterned fabric attached to scaffolding gave new dimensions to our walk.

The Mill served as a space to reflect on our walks, on the process undertaken, the artworks created and the media used. We shared our experience as parents and children. Issues of safety, accessibility, pollution, lack of green spaces where recurrent problems encountered, as well as the lack of political will to safeguard pedestrians.

Drawing from our lived experiences we discussed limits to walkability and mobility have become an intrinsic part of our life, particularly faced by children, women and the elderly.

Our uncharted walk is coming to a close, with a public event being developed together. The aim is to present the experience of the process undertaken and also invite the public to experience walking in uncharted territories.