‘Mum’s Not the Word - Childless Childfree ’ is a collection of 50 photographic images of women who do not have children and their reflections on what this means to them as individuals. Raising questions of identity, social constructs, the concept of what it is to be a woman and how stereotyped behaviour is influenced by various factors both external and internal, such as the expectation around having children and the impact this has in an era of environmental crisis.
Females who do not procreate are too often misrepresented by negative terms: barren, spinster, wicked stepmother or crazy cat lady. Women are expected to provide reasons why they do not to have children. Whereas the choice to reproduce is not regarded as needing any thought or justification.
Mum’s Not The Word debates the social stigmatisation of women, who, by choice or for medical reasons, or for whatever reason go against the instinct of childbirth and maternal productivity. I photograph the childless, child-free and childless by circumstance. The images are of women in the foetal position, as a reversal of the recognised visual of the unborn child. The nude series challenges the negative attitudes within society towards people without children and shares stories of birth control, choice, freedom, regret and pain.
The project has recerived plaudits in UK and Europe Exhibited. Photo Fringe Brighton. Hundred Heroines, London, Blackpool, Doncaster, UK. Bologna, Italy. Cologne, Germany. 2016-2020
Photobook show Benaki Museum, Athens Photo Festival. 2019 Photobook. Coffee Table Book of the Week, iPaper. 2019
Magazine Feature. IPaper & The Guardian Weekend Magazine, London, UK. 2019
Aired on BBC South East News, UK. Fify One Percent, France 24, Paris, France. 2017, 2019
Radio interviews BBC Sussex, London, Oxford, Solent, UK. 2019
Nominated Childfree Person of the Year. International Childfree Day. USA. 2019
Honourable Mention. Julia Margaret Cameron Award, Barcelona, Spain. 2017
Finalist. National Open Art Competition. Barge House, London, UK. 2017 Finalist. Sony World Photography Awards, Someset House, London. 2016
Each image is A4 size and printed on fine art paper
Fixed to the wall with magnets
Individual captions printed on film.
Video (work in progress)
A short video is being made to project onto a bed. The moving image is an animation of the rejected images from Mum’s Not the Word photo shoots.
300 photobooks are be available for sale £19.99 plus P &P (£5.00 in the UK)
Discussion on content of exhibition and views associated with environmental issues, education and humanitarian issues. Dad’s Not the Word 2021 (work in progress)
As a sequel to Mum’s Not the Word I have been photographing men. I propose to exhibit up to 13 images of men without children. These will be A4 sized prints the same size of Mum’s Not the Word. Plus a male version of the moving image which I am currently working on.
Testimonials 2021 I was very pleased to see your book, It’s a wonderful testament to you, the integrity of your work and the bravery / courage of the women to speak out and bare all. It’s actually a very affectionate book, your photographs are so supportive of them, even though some stories are harrowing.
More needs to be said and done about this- it’s almost a taboo subject..
Zelda Cheatle - Expert in Photography
Denise is a brave, challenging and brilliant photographer. We met while she was studying for her MA in Photojournalism at the University of Westminster, where I was the Head of Photography.
Impressed with the work she exhibited for her graduation show at Ambika P3, I have followed her ever since. Her most recent publication - ‘Mum’s Not The Word’ - is moving, beautiful and insightful. This is not art for art sake, but artistry representing those who are childless, confronting their stereotypes, baring souls and bodies and providing a profound voice. Denise’s work will resonate globally and deserves the widest distribution.
Andy Golding - Visiting Professor at Nova Univerza, Sloveni
Denise is a visionary artist and photographer who has created a new visual vocabulary with her work to explore the world of childfree (voluntary) and childless (involuntary) adults. We have collaborated together to find subjects for her photo essays and the end results have been powerful - both for the subjects involved and also as cultural and socio-historical statements. I look forward to working with Denise again in the future to help her extend her ground-breaking work illuminating the pronatalist blindspot where adults without children exist in our society. Thank you Denise x
Jody Day - Childlessness Campaigner, Advocate & Thought Leader. Founder @GatewayWomen, author, psychotherapist, TEDx-er.