Behind Glass offers a layered exploration of motherhood as shown during the months of the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic, as unprecedented stay-at-home measures swept across Australia and the world.

It stands as both a creative commentary and an important cultural record. Born of the pandemic, shooting began for the series as the first stay-at-home orders came into force in Australia.

Making portraits of those in her immediate community, It is a body of work motivated by a need to make visible the unseen role of parenting during such isolation and the light and darkness of motherhood during these extended periods of lockdown;

Whilst informing of a particular time, Behind Glass also speaks more broadly of the maternal experience. Newly detached from the outer world as societal constructs and expectations remain vastly at odds with lived experience.
Behind glass, mother and child appear like living and breathing masterpieces – divine comedies of domesticity.

Through this work, the hope was to make visible the hidden role of parenting; the deepest tenderness, tedium, quietude, love, frustration, fear and despair.













How long does a mother ‘carry’ a child?
As early as the second week of pregnancy there is a two-way transference of cells and DNA between the fetus and the mother. Cells containing DNA cross the placenta and enter into the mothers’ bloodstream, embedding in various organs including the heart, brain and lungs, where evidence has shown that they can remain for decades.
This phenomenon is called microchimerism, from the word ‘chimera’, referring to a mythical creature made up of the parts of different animals.

Mother, as chimera.


In-Passing’ began in 2015, the year Lisa became a mother to her first child and then shortly after suffered the loss of her own mother to illness. At first, it provided a therapeutic outlet for a new reality that didn’t feel like her own.

Two new identities, mother and motherless.

These events provide the inception for what has since become a long-running commentary 9 years in the making.  In-passing is a visceral account of the chaos and intimacy of the familial space during her children’s formative years. Heavily saturated by the unravelling departure from the identity of who she once was and the metamorphosis of self that becoming a mother sets in motion in both body and mind, a historically unobserved or widely acknowledged transformation.

Arranged non-sequentially it is a narrative skews time and swells back and forth from the more readily observed challenges and experiences of new motherhood and into the now enduring role that will define much of the rest of her life.

With references to mortality and renewal, each image tells of a particular stage in the cycle of her children's development and their relationship, reflecting the complexities, intimacy and emotional landscapes within the mother-child universe.









                                                                                                                                                                                                       









An overview of images from the past 8 years made in various locations throughout Australia of mothers and their children.
Motivated by her own experiences during pregnancy and the shock of new motherhood Lisa began documenting mothers around Australia as an act of unification and reverence for the profoundly under-represented transformation that occurs in the body and mind of a woman when they become a mother.

With a heavy focus on the pregnancy and well-being of the baby and the medicalised support system as the primary contact for pregnant women and new mothers in Australia, there is little to inform or support the complex and profound emotional and physiological transformation that changes a woman’s very being once they give birth.

Combined with the lack of realistic and varied representations of the new day-to-day lived experience or the healing, leaking and forever changing bodies and minds these disconnected cultural constructions work against mothers and hold them to an unachievable standard, adversely affecting mental health, and subjecting them to more confusion, angst and guilt at an already incredibly raw and fragile time.
Pregnancy, birth and motherhood are some of the most profound, deeply beautiful and intimate human experiences and yet it is also some of the most physically and emotionally challenging, relentless and claustrophobic.
This holistic recognition for mothers, particularly important for those without adequate access to support or those who are exposed to excess psychological and social stress, is crucial to the creation of healthy societies.


  




This work was commissioned and produced by PhEST during a residency in Taranto, Puglia for Artlab Eyeland Ed. II, 2024.

The outcome is a project that with their support, reveals, through the universal lens of motherhood, a community under immense strain and the nature of human resilience.

Tamburi is a neighbourhood in the city of Taranto in Puglia. It is the epicentre of an ever-evolving and worsening environmental disaster, caused by the industrial site Ilva, the largest steelworks in Europe.
  
Simply being born in Tamburi means that the contamination increases the risk of certain cancers, cardiovascular issues and respiratory illnesses are significantly higher than compared to other areas in the region.

It has been identified to be so dangerous that the residents live at times under a curfew, especially during the so-called “wind days”. This is when the wind is too strong and the risk of stronger emissions from the plant is much higher. Schools also close earlier on these days.  

What I found in Tamburi was a place incredibly rich in history and tradition, fiercely proud of its identity. The people I met were warm, upfront and hopeful for their future, it’s children held and nurtured through adversity by strong women and family networks.  

The mother’s battle for her child with sickness, with poverty, with war, with all the forces of exploitation and callousness that cheapen human life needs to become a common human battle, waged in love and in the passion for survival. Adrienne Rich - Of Woman Born