maternity leaves lizzie philps

Eighteen Paces © Lizzie Philps

I came across Lizzie Philps’s work at the ‘Walking Encyclopaedia’ exhibition at AirSpace gallery in Stoke on Trent. This project in particular really stuck with me (and chimes with the thinking behind the Perambulator project) it’s entitled ‘Maternity Leaves’  and consists of a series of photographs documenting short performative walks. Made during the first year of Philps’s daughter’s life each one records a short walking away from the baby (in the pram). Titled simply with the number of steps taken (in the walk away) they prompt in me a genuinely emotional (and physical) response – connecting directly to the mixed up feelings (of terror and delight) from the first times that I left my children.

They also make me smile as I imagine the performances themselves, Philps counting her steps (was the number decided before hand? Did she look back periodically on the slightly longer walks away?) whilst bemused passersby and other onlookers wondered at the action. In Philps’s words “The difference between ‘ahh, look – a mother taking a photo of her baby’ and ‘what the hell is she doing?’ is only a few paces.”

The photos can all be found on Philps’s blog, along with other walking and motherhood related works.