Creating dystopian scenes with the utopian aim of recognising and laughing at everyday experience of mothering

Domesticity is heralded and celebrated and often presented in similar ways to a kind of Utopia, an ideal place where all is calm and sweet. More often than not it is a scene of carnage, a dystopia – with mothers struggling to cope and filled with guilt at their failure to live up to representations of ideality.

painting of small children and mothers in a surreal scene
Babble Tower – the life raft of language, 80x100x4cm, oil and bitumen on canvas


Domestic Dystopias are apocalyptic visions of mother’s lived experience. They are funny and menacing, hoping to provide an ambivalent depiction of mother’s lives that combine the ideal with the monstrous and the mundane.

Putti are traditionally healthy innocents associated with winged angels, we may now call them cherubs – here they presented with nappies, shown wrecking chaos for mothers who are presented in gestural postures of patience, weariness, guilt, and anger.

These historically inspired chaotic scenes mimic political or religious works by masters, famous male painters who depicted hellish scenes in order to inspire political change or a religious desire to be perfect. These paintings hope to inspire change but of a different kind – with laughter and acceptance that no-one is perfect, there is no domestic Utopia,  – that life might be hell – but it’s ok to fail. Making representations that show the contradictions in mother’s lives help us all to live with them. Mocking domestic ideality is one way to make domestic and maternal reality visible. Women and mothers should be given more credit, confidence and support by everyone who cares about humanity.

More writing and informationDomestic Dystopias

Images of work: large sized painting catalogue 2019