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Who, What and Why
Our creative community at Story of Mum inspires mamas to shine brighter together.
We share our stories here so that we can let go of Bad Mummy guilt, boost our confidence, and be reassured by a refreshing honest look at the ups and downs of motherhood. It's also our excuse to carve out some vital me-time.
The website offers over 50 ways to share your story so far, and we bring together a supportive global village of mamas ready to listen and make a difference. You can find us in the galleries here, on facebook, and at our monthly #somum Make Dates on twitter. You can meet us in person at a Mamas’ Retreat, exhibition event or workshop, and soon we'll be offering e-courses to bring us all together.
Sign up today for our free e-book of Mamas’ Reward Charts (mums deserve gold stars too!), a monthly burst of gloss-free inspiration, and a unique community that isn't ashamed of the mess.
To find out more, have a read of this magazine interview about the who, what and why of Story of Mum in UK Handmade.
The most important people in story of mum are the mums taking part. You can find more about the amazing creative mums already joining in at mums.
A bit more information on Pippa and Penny Best whose online baby this originally was:
I live in Cornwall, UK with my salty-skinned surfing film-making husband, boisterous 7 year old boy who thinks he’s half Lego Chima/half Power Ranger, and 4 year old daughter who inspires me by saying YES as if it’s the easiest thing in the world (and WHY, over and over again...)
Life is a constant plate-spin of intuitive mothering and my work as a feature film script editor and project manager. My passion is story of mum - especially making up quirky new activities, and hosting our #somum Mums’ Make Dates (2nd Wednesday of every month from 8.30 – 10pm GMT on Twitter).
My friend Loz Hardman died suddenly in 2009, She was an incredible source of brilliant parenting, work and relationship advice, and offered the world everything she had. Her life was my inspiration to just try this and see what happens.
As well as being a mum of 3 grown 'children' and now a grandmum of 3, at heart I am a dancer! Professionally a supervisor, researcher and trainer involved in learning through creative playfulness now for over 40 years. Fascinated by the power of the body's mind.
I am inspired by my daughter's passion and her creative energies. Loving working with her; holding on to her shirt tails as she whizzes around the digital world. I hope other older experienced mums, grandmums, greatgrandmums get inspired to share their numerous identity transitions.
And more about our marvellous marketing mum Shireen Cunliffe who has joined us to help promote storyofmum:
A mum to a cheeky tiddler and his even cheekier much older sister, Shireen also works part time as a Marketing & PR consultant. With over 16 years experience, Shireen now runs Picaloulou, a business inspired by her two children.
Shireen relocated to Cornwall with her husband, swapping high street fashion for muddy wellies, chickens and a mad English Bull Terrier. She wouldn't have it any other way!
WILD, Hayle Day Centre and our 'tester mums'
Finally, a very special thanks goes to the Penzance and Hayle WILD mums who have helped us develop the project (Penzance mums pictured here). You can also spot the fabulous Anna Murphy here on the right, who was so instrumental in our initial workshops.
Check out this fabulous picture from Steve Tanner's Asylum Studios, from a night when we all went to see Kneehigh Theatre's The Red Shoes, adapted by Anna. Steve's photography project alongside this was the inspiration for our I'm a Mum and A... activity.
We've also worked with mums, grandmums and great-grandmums at Hayle Day Centre to see how the idea works for different generations, with artists Amanda White and Jo McIntosh.
Some of the mums, nans, and grandmums of Hayle Day Care Centre can be seen working on tasks for story of mum (right).
And not forgetting our band of tester mums who played with the site prior to launch, helping us to iron out glitches, rethink tasks, and explore how the website might actually work when more mums join in... and become part of the people that make up storyofmum.
What is story of mum? Story of mum is an interactive journey - a chance for mums to be creative, to share our stories, to explore what it means to be us, and to play.
We want to see your doodles. We want to explore the daily moments of creativity that are part and parcel of being a mum, yet which we don’t have the time to acknowledge. We want to connect with the joy of creating. We've created other human beings, how can it be so hard to believe in ourselves as amazing creative people?
With story of mum, we want to go on an adventure with mums we don’t yet know. We want to be brave and playful and thoughtful and surprised. And we want to have as much fun as the kids.
We want to share your stories - the words, the pictures, the sounds, your heart. The good stuff and the bad, happy and sad. We're starting by sharing ours.
Where did the idea for story of mum come from?
Pippa: I constantly use the internet to look for advice on how to be a better mum, to check symptoms, to buy or freecycle baby stuff, to check what my friends are up to on Facebook, all the usual stuff. But recently I’ve been looking for something more than another forum for advice, or a best-selling book on parenting, or a guide to what I need to buy or say or do next. I’ve been wondering if the internet could offer a different sort of mum’s community.
I’m lucky to have a great group of friends with whom I’ve shared the incredible intimacy of going through birth, becoming a parent, seeing our children and ourselves grow, and I’ve wondered, are there more women out there like us? How could we find them? On the days when I’m feeling lonely or wise or just plain bored and stuck in the house, how could I find another mum who feels like me? Or another mum who feels so differently it wakes me up? How could I share the amazing crazy scary state of motherhood and womanhood with strangers around the world? How could I help people going through it?
When I visited the website Learning to Love You More, I finally had a sense of what I might be looking for. Artists Miranda July and Harrell Fletcher set a series of creative assignments that anyone could respond to - things like ‘take a photo of your parents kissing’, ‘make a flier of your day’ and ‘reread your favourite book from fifth grade’. The assignments are closed for entries now but the 8000 responses are fantastic - perspectives and passions that while disparate, also provide an inspiring collective insight into what matters. I decided the community I was looking for was a creative one. A fun one. An honest and risk-taking one (maybe sometimes an anonymous one). A community that could push me out of my comfort zone - if I felt like it.
How did the idea develop?
Pippa: I discussed the idea with my mum (of course!) and discovered that she’s also in a period of transition - adjusting to being a grandmother, and looking at life beyond children. We realised that being a mum seems to be a constant adjustment of our ideas about ourself and our changing roles. My mum was really excited about the idea of using her skills in a different way, changing her spheres of reference, and getting to grips with new technology.
We then started to discuss the project with lots of friends and acquaintances, mums we met in the park or waiting for a bus. When a good friend, a young mother, suddenly died, that loss spurred me on to try and build something, in her honour.
We got some funding from Feast and UnLtd 4ip that allowed us to build the site and invite mums to help us develop it. We started to work with a lovely group of mums at the Penzance WILD group - testing out ideas for stories, and looking at what needed to be included in a site like this. Some of the ideas spread out to the Hayle mum group and more mums started to take part, then grans and great-grans from the Hayle Day Centre too.
The next stage was to enlist some virtual testers across the world, and see what the experience is like when you try to find time to join in a story on your own... Lots of lovely mums joined up, helping us to iron out the first glitches and think of new ways of doing things. We finally went live on Mothers' Day 2011 and have been growing and learning ever since.
Our next adventure was a travelling exhibition and events programme, taking story of mum and our wonderful community into amazing galleries across England and to the Museum of Motherhood in New York. Next up, we hosted our first residential Mamas' Retreat in stunning Prussia Cove, Cornwall, and started runnig regular Mamas' Retreats in Penzance with the wonderful Leif Olsen. We also launched our first product - a DIY Mamas' Retreat Kit that provides everything a mother needs to host her own low-cost retreat for her mama friends at home.
Along the way, we've done fantastic work with Team Honk to raise funds for Comic Relief, including launching a charity campaign that went viral: #mykidsdressedme. Right now, Pippa is taking part in the Lloyds Bank School for Social Entrepreneurs programme to help develop the work we've been doing into a social enterprise model - so that we can help as many mothers as possible to feel better about themselves and to value the amazing things we all do. Watch this space!
Want to read more?
We made our first ever ebook How to be a Gold Star Mama in 2012. You can read more about the journey towards making that in this article on Oh My! Handmade. You can also read on Oh My! Handmade about our process to design and choose a new logo with our fabulous community's help.
We're still evolving the site as we go along, adding more elements, setting up local groups to try out new activities (and eat cake), and looking for opportunities to link the project to other groups of mums getting together worldwide.
Come join us on our journey to help mums make their own space to create - and to value how creative we can be.
To all of you. story of mum needs mums like you. Thank you for your bravery, creativity and fun.
To the Penzance WILD mums' group, who helped us to devise and test the ideas here, made us laugh like drains, and produced such beautiful work, along with some of Hayle mums. Extra special thanks to Cheryl Macfarlane and Anna Murphy for running such fun sessions, and to Nick Harpley for building us this brilliant website. To Lesley and the mums, nans and great-grans of Hayle Day Care Centre, and Jo McIntosh and Amanda White, the artists who worked with them. To Gill and Jayne at Arts for Health, and Tamsin and Kirsty at Newlyn Art Gallery. And to Jack Morrison for his faith in the project from its very first conception, as well as Jane and Rose from Feast.
To our wonderful group of 'virtual testers' around the world, our international guinea pigs who helped us to build and test the website before it went public.
To our funders UnLtd 4ip, Feast and the Arts Council. More information on these below:
The UnLtd 4iP scheme gives awards to help individuals from across the UK to turn their digital media project into a reality. UnLtd and 4iP have teamed up to help individuals develop early stage digital media ideas and prototypes. Together they will build the skills, capabilities and partnerships to turn prototypes into social businesses.
4iP is an innovation fund, created by Channel 4, to stimulate public service digital media across the UK. It supports great ideas for websites, games and mobile services which help people improve their lives. 4iP will share its expertise in digital media and UnLtd will provide dedicated support including training opportunities, mentoring and access to resources to help individuals develop their skills and their projects.
Feast is a programme that makes great art happen across Cornwall. FEAST’s ambition is to touch and inspire people and generate a whole new wave of creative activity in our communities. There are opportunities for audiences to enjoy events, but the focus is on bringing people together to take part in creative projects, and on animating local celebrations and cultural life.
ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people's lives. They support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries - from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. They believe that great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better.