Holding the Baby
Overworked, under-appreciated and often vilified: it’s hard being a lone parent in a society still geared to a two-parent family. And yet one in four families are single parent households. Around 90% are headed up by a single mother. In the summer of 2019, Polly Braden, a single parent herself, started to document the day-to-day reality of what it means to be a single parent in the UK. From one mother’s resourcefulness in converting a sitting room into a bedroom, creating a special space for her child to thrive, to the loneliness of being sole earner, teacher, playmate; Polly puts the distinctive culture of solo parenting under the spotlight. Holding the Baby is a powerful collection of portraits; a moving expression of stoicism, anger, exhaustion, pride, compassion and love. Polly Braden is in conversation with Hettie Judah.
Polly is a documentary photographer whose work highlights the small, often unconscious gestures of her subjects, Polly particularly enjoys long-term, in-depth collaborations that in turn lends her photographs a unique, quiet intimacy. Polly has produced a large body of work that includes not only solo exhibitions and magazine features, but also seven books: Adventures in the Lea Valley (Hoxton Mini Press, 2016), Great Interactions: Life with Learning Disabilities and Autism (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2016), Out of the Shadows: The Untold Story of People with Autism or Learning Disabilities (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2018) alongside writer Sally Williams, London’s Square Mile: A Secret City (Hoxton Mini Press, 2019.) with writing by David Kynaston, A Place for me. 50 Stories of Finding Home ((Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2021) and Holding the Baby ((Dewi Lewis Publishing).
Hettie Judah is a writer, senior art critic on the British daily paper The i, and contributor to Frieze, The Guardian, Vogue, The New York Times, Art Quarterly, Art Monthly, ArtReview and other publications with ‘art’ in the title. Her next book How Not to Exclude Artist Mothers (and other parents) (Lund Humphries) comes out this September, followed by Lapidarium (John Murray/ Penguin), a book exploring how stones have shaped human culture, and vice versa. She is currently working on a touring exhibition and book on art and motherhood.