Mothers Who Make a Garden

January 2023 – onwards

Mothers Who Make is an international movement and network of peer support focused on the experiences of being a mother and maker. The Coventry Hub, which formed in 2019, is facilitated by myself and is a rich and fluid collective of female and non-binary creative people from the region with a relationship to care-giving or the concept of mothering, as well as inviting conversation around how we might imagine a more nurturing society in general.

Coventry Biennial commissioned the Hub in January 2023 to make a new work for their 4th Biennial, …like a short cut through the brambles. Mothers Who Make a Garden is an evolving, multi-faceted journey into the imagining and realisation of a city-centre garden led by the Hub. The project traverses locations (The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, The Pantry St. Giles, Live & Dye Garden at the Cathedral), artistic mediums and dreams, accumulating in a publication Mothers Who Make a Garden: The Dreaming, a dahlia club, a collaborative hand-embroidered artwork with Caroline Hackett (see here) and a focal garden space at the Old Grammar School, a Grade I listed building in Coventry city centre.

There are copies of Mothers Who Make a Garden: The Dreaming catalogued at Paul Mellon Centre Library and Wellcome Collection. There are also copies available at Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Mossy Margins, The Pod Reading Room and Women’s Art Library at Goldsmiths.

Local gardener and mother Alice Wood has offered key inspiration towards the project, while artist and allotmenteer Janet Vaughan of Talking Birds guided in building planters from disused pallet wood and maker Anne Forgan developed organic sculptures for the fencing. Workshop participants generously contributed time, skills and creativity. Through a collective momentum mothers, artists and allies have considered the potential of beauty, biodiversity, sustainability and inclusivity in a garden space within the framework of being an artwork.

April, 2023 at The Nest, Talking Birds HQ

A journal is kept on site at the Old Grammar School which documents the planters and evolution of the project. Regular gatherings are held at the garden, an opportunity for mothers to find out about the plants, help with tasks, be creative, or simply relax and enjoy the space. Latest news on garden sessions are advertised on Instagram @motherswhomakecov or by getting in touch via

We owe many thanks to Anne Forgan, Janet Vaughan and Talking Birds, Kings Hill Nurseries, Good Gym Coventry, The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Food Union and Coventry Cathedral Live & Dye Garden, Coventry Urban Eden, The Pantry St. Giles, Al Bader Restaurant, Sarah Shalgosky, Kelly Baker, Mothers Who Make Coventry workshop participants, Mothers Who Make a Garden: The Dreaming zine contributors, and many friends and family.

A special thank you to Emily Gardner, assistant curator with Coventry Biennial, for her close collaboration and committed passion for gardening.

Writings about the garden can be found in Coventry Biennial Volume One, Coventry Biennial: Championing nature by Ruth Millington published in Coventry Telegraph and Birmingham Post, Mothers Who Make a Garden: The Dreaming, and a personal reflection in Action Rayz Zine 10 pictured below (click the images to expand).

Photographs below by Emily Gardner (top left), Alan Van Wijgerden (top right), Sinéad Patching (middle three), Mark Cook (nighttime image).

Mothers Who Stitch a Garden

A patchwork born of a hand-embroidery workshop held at Allesley Walled Garden, Coventry, in May 2023 led by Caroline Hackett. Participants individually developed pieces which were later brought together in a collaborative design session in the context of the development of the Mothers Who Make a Garden project.

Caroline chose the daisy motif to share with the group due to its association with innocence. Representative of both fragility and tenacity, daisies echo the experiences of both childhood and motherhood, while also being suggestive of the often fierce but sidelined creative drive of mothers who are artists. Like the brambles referenced in Coventry Biennial’s title for 2023, daisies quietly take root providing vital ingredients to our natural ecosystems.

The textile features seed-packets stitched with felt by children, scattering seeds onto the garden beneath it, symbolic of the life-cycles that surround us. The piece celebrates Mothers Who Make as a nurturing space for artists holding the dual roles of mother and maker.

Mothers Who Stitch a Garden collaborative workshop with Caroline Hackett (above)
Held at Coventry Artspace, September 2023

Finished piece (right)
Exhibited at Old Grammar School, Coventry, October 2023 – January 2024
Cotton, denim, felt, embroidery thread

Contributors to the finished work: Polly Merredew, Sinéad Patching, Geeta Sarcar, Kate Ingram, Helen Cuthill, Adele Mary Reed, Janet Tryner, Helen Wheatley, children