Hannah Perry: Manual Labour at Baltic

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
A pregnant woman standing in a mirror
Hannah Perry © Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

Hannah Perry: Manual Labour at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle Until 15 March 2025 Entrance is free — Visit now

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art opens the long-awaited show Manual Labour from artist Hannah Perry. The exhibition focuses on themes of motherhood as an experience of conflict and juxtaposition, as well as the artist’s primary interests throughout her practice such as gender and class.

In Manual Labour the artist draws on her own experience of matrescence – the transitionary period in the process of becoming a mother and its potential to both inspire and erase. Perry describes that thought process behind the new body of work: “I came to the realisation that I had a deep-rooted, unconscious, anti-feminist view of the role of a mother that is excruciatingly patriarchal. As though the value of a mother’s labour is somehow less than that of one’s success in the professional, male-dominated world.” With a keen interest in ideas of labour, industry and class in her previous works, this was the ideal context for exploring them through a new lens. 

The new commission for Manual Labour consists of a steel sculpture with mechanical elements which choreographs childbirth in a structure resembling a pelvis. It is not a romanticised view but one that centres the struggle and potential trauma of the experience as well as its incredible power.

Perry remains honest about the internal struggles of motherhood, describing the division she continues to feel when the self is often temporarily eradicated, also in terms of creativity and artistic output. Already known for emotional intensity woven into her video and sculptural works, the artist interrogates her new identity as well as the concept of motherhood at large, to an extent in dialogue with the shared experience of the generations of mothers before her. 

Manual Labour joins a number of other exhibitions exploring motherhood which are taking place around the UK this year. Perry’s exploration of both the experience combined with her signature use of ‘industrial’ materials make for a unique perspective on that most human of experiences – don’t miss it.

Hannah Perry: Manual Labour at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle Until 15 March 2025 Entrance is free Visit now

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