Open Eye Gallery Exhibition

by Lisa Creagh and mothers from Cheshire and Merseyside 

Visual artist Lisa Creagh is pleased to present The Holding Time Project; a co-created, multi-site art piece at Open Eye Gallery, part of a group show called Ecology of Care which brings together a series of socially engaged projects reflecting the intimate stories of care, relationships and resilience within our community.

View a 3D VR version of the exhibition here (Floor 2)

This new work on show is the latest in a series of projects called ‘Holding Time’ a socially engaged feminist art piece creating a portrait of breastfeeding. Funded by Improving Me, the NHS Cheshire and Merseyside’s Women and Children’s Partnership, the Holding Time Project aims to overturn preconceptions, challenge stereotypes and improve breastfeeding rates in the local area. Local mothers were invited to share their experiences in video interviews and participate in writing workshops and a photo shoot. Across audio, video, animation and stills, the mothers discuss breastfeeding in all its complexity, calling in to question the barriers that still mean many women who want to breastfeed, stop before they are ready.

“Breastfeeding isn’t just invisible in culture, on TV, in the media. It’s invisible in our lives, our photo streams, our messages. It’s a maternal experience that is widely misunderstood, ignored and sidelined, despite occupying many countless hours, of the mothers who practice it….

These women are at the heart of The Holding Time Project. Their voices and the validity of their experience is the central structure of the project. Their ideas about what needs to change, what should happen and doesn’t, how things could be different and better are the driving force behind the project. To me, these women can show us the way to real and meaningful change – not just at grassroots, but all the way up through society to the very top. They have the ability to convince others simply because they speak their own truth in a way that is simple and compelling.”

Holding Time invited Cheshire and Merseyside mothers during COVID to share their experiences throughout lockdowns in video interviews and blogs. Women were also invited to participate in writing workshops and a photo shoot. Across audio, video, animation and stills, the mothers discuss breastfeeding in all its complexity, highlighting challenges as well as  answering many questions about why many women who want to breastfeed, stop before they are ready.

Improving Me NHS Cheshire and Merseyside said, ‘We have some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, with eight out of ten women stopping breastfeeding before they want to. Improving breastfeeding rates.  would have an extremely positive impact on child health as well as maternal wellbeing.

Breastfeeding protects babies and children from a vast range of illnesses, including infection, diabetes, asthma, heart disease and obesity, as well as cot death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It also protects mothers from breast and ovarian cancers and heart disease; as well as having a profoundly positive impact on perinatal mental health. It’s basically a huge public health issue and we will continue to focus attention on the value of breastfeeding working with our mums. This commitment is supported by a Cheshire and Merseyside wide focus on addressing health inequalities and the value of a best start for every child.’

UNICEF add ‘Breastfeeding is a natural ‘safety net’ against the worst effects of poverty … Exclusive breastfeeding goes a long way toward cancelling out the health difference between being born into poverty and being born into affluence … It is almost as if breastfeeding takes the infant out of poverty for those first few months in order to give the child a fairer start in life and compensate for the injustice of the world into which it was born.’

James P. Grant, Executive Director of UNICEF (1980-1995)

  1. A multi-screen installation featuring animated portraits of a ‘chorus’ of breastfeeding mothers accompanied by music by composer Helen Anahita Wilson. The viewer is invited to sit and watch the mothers as gestures and features are slowed to ‘maternal time’.
  2. A series of large format portraits will tour local hospitals
  3. Interviews with mothers, health professionals and researchers
  4. Writing and spoken word by local breastfeeding mothers
  5. Performances and live events
  6. An audio tour of podcasts from the series, to follow around Liverpool, St Helens and Birkenhead

Improving Me -Women’s health and Maternity (WHaM)programme -NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Health Care Partnership 

Improving Me is a partnership of 27 NHS organisations across Cheshire and Merseyside aiming to improve women’s health and maternity experiences. The associated Women’s Health and Maternity (WHaM) programme is focused on developing a safe, high quality, clinically and financially sustainable whole system model of care for women’s services across Cheshire and Merseyside. WHaM has commissioned the Write On programme in response to feedback from service users and a national evidence base on the value of wiring interventions to boost wellbeing

Participating mothers:

Mothers were recruited via Improving Me and grassroots networks, along with an open call on social media. Once established that they were within the Cheshire and Merseyside area, mothers were invited to participate in a number of activities:

  1. Video Interviews with Lead Artist, Lisa Creagh. Editing by Natalie Argent.
  2. Storytelling workshops run by Rachel New of Creative Lives which were performed at a live launch during Babyweek, November 2021.
  3. A portrait session at Cetra Studios in Birkenhead.
  4. Animated by Serena Mangalini.

See: Marking World Breastfeeding Week 01-07 August 2022

PRESS and PRIVATE RECEPTION: Weds. 14th September 2pm

Get in touch

Contact Lisa Creagh

Mobile :     07816577140                 Email:



Social media tags: #normalisebreastfeeding #holdingtime #WBW2022

An Ecology of Care runs at Open Eye Gallery

15th September – 29th October




Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10-5pm

Admission Free