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sarah detweiler’s hidden mothers


Victorian era folks adopted plenty of curious practices during their lifetime, a prime example being the ‘hidden mother’ technique in photography. In order to keep their babies still enough for 19th-century cameras, Victorian-era mums stayed in frame to soothe their bubs while completely 'disguised' in cloth. The eerie results, in which children appear to be held up by phantom figures, was the starting point for artist Sarah Detweiler, whose series Hidden Mother brings ‘unseen’ women into the foreground.

Sarah’s mixed-media works – a combination of painting and embroidery – are a comment on women’s societal roles, and how they shift when a woman becomes a mother. She asked different friends to sit for her portraits, adding motifs and patterns that reflect their individual personalities, but kept them cloaked to remind viewers of their shared experiences as women. Take a look in the gallery above and don't forget to view Sarah's entire exhibition virtually. You can also follow her work on Instagram