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The Republic of Parenthood: exploring how parental experience has the power to transform creativity

Published: 29 June 2023

Artwork depicting two heads facing each other

Work by exhibiting artist Sally Taylor

Parenthood has long been portrayed as a barrier to creativity in Western art and literature. Now, "The Republic of Parenthood" aims to challenge this idea and celebrate how becoming a parent can ignite and shape artistic expression.

"The Republic of Parenthood," is a free one-day public event that explores the profound impact of parental experience on art and writing. 

It takes place on Friday 7 July 2023, from 9.45 am to 8.00 pm in the award winning York St John Creative Centre on our Lord Mayor’s Walk campus in York. Children are welcome.

The event, hosted by The Institute for Social Justice and The York Centre for Writing, brings together speakers and facilitators from various disciplines, including Animation, Fine Art, Creative Writing, Film, and Psychology. 

There will be an art and photography exhibition, film screenings and a series of free talks and workshops. Refreshments will be served throughout the day. The day will offer the chance to explore a wide range of themes including: pregnancy, birth, baby loss, breastfeeding, diverse experiences of parenthood and parental mental health.

Highlights include the launch of Blood & Cord: Writers on Early Parenthood, edited by Abi Curtis, Professor of Creative Writing, York St John University. This anthology is a poignant and unfiltered exploration of the profound impact of becoming a parent, and how it can reshape one's identity. The collection of 18 works in poetry, fiction, and memoir features prizewinning local, national and international authors.  

There will be the first public screening of the acclaimed animation For Isaak, a deeply personal film about family impact of stillbirth. This will be followed by a chance to see Breastfeeding: Not on the Agenda, a powerful new documentary that explores why the UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.  

The day begins with the Keynote Conversation: Parenthood, Writing and Making with Dr Carolyn Jess-Cooke, author, poet and Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, and Vanessa Corby, Professor of the Theory, History and Practice of Art, York St John University.

Professor Vanessa Corby said: “The Republic of Parenthood is a unique event that celebrates the creative power of parenthood. We hope it will inspire others to embrace their experiences as a catalyst for artistic expression. 

“Whether you are an artist, writer, or a parent seeking inspiration, this symposium and exhibition offer a valuable opportunity to engage with diverse perspectives and gain new insights. Join us on this enriching journey of creativity and parenthood!”

Professor Abi Curtis said: “We aim for 'Blood & Cord' to serve as a guiding light for new parents, extending a compassionate hand in the darkness. It acknowledges the ways that parenthood can unravel the familiar aspects of life, both physically and emotionally. From the intensity of childbirth to the bewildering realm of sleepless nights, from the pain of baby loss to the overwhelming power of love, becoming a parent is a transformative experience that forever alters one's world.

“This collection offers solace, comfort, and a sense of solidarity to anyone embarking on the journey of parenthood. We want to validate the challenges, celebrate the joys, and provide a source of support for those navigating the complexities of early parenthood.”

For more information, including the full event schedule, please visit the Eventbrite booking page 

Contact us

Communications team

York St John University, Lord Mayors Walk, York, YO31 7EX

01904 876 466

To contact us out of hours, phone 07812 365 499