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image:  Barbeline and Elijah, Holding the Baby, London 2021, Polly Braden. Courtesy of the artist


Polly Braden presents Holding the Baby, an exhibition of new photography that creates a powerful and moving portrait of the impact of austerity measures on families across the UK.

Braden’s participatory project (which began life at the Museum of the Home), features families from Bristol, London, and Liverpool, including photographic portraits and narrated stories, highlighting the lived experience, strength, and resilience of single parents.

Inspired and provoked by a United Nations report which stated that single parents have been hardest hit by UK austerity measures, Braden’s collaborative photographs – some taken during lockdown by the parents themselves – capture the families’ sense of adventure, optimism, creativity and ambition, that transcends the often difficult, situations they face.

Accompanied by excerpts from conversations between the families and journalist Sally Williams, and reflections on the idea of ‘home’ drawn together by writer Claire-Louise Bennett, Braden captures the individual stories of Fran, Jahanara, Charmaine, Aaron, Barbeline, Caroline, Gemma and Carike, highlighting the universality of their lives.

The original exhibition concept was curated by Sinéad McCarthy at Museum of the Home where the exhibition opened in June 2021. The show is on tour to Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool, in October 2021, and Arnolfini in 2022.

The project has collaborated with selected public institutions, including The Idea Store, Whitechapel, The Hive, Shropshire, Liverpool Libraries, and Baraka Community Cafe, Bristol, where a pop-up version of the exhibition is also taking place.

The project has received funding from Arts Council England and Grain and part of Behind The Door, a collaboration between Museum of the Home and the  London Homelessness Collective. It has been supported by:

Gingerbread, a charity supporting single parent families to live secure, happy and fulfilling lives, offering information, support and advice about contact, maintenance and benefits.

CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group) who work on behalf of the more than one in four children in the UK growing up in poverty.

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Polly Braden: Holding the Baby: Exhibition Slideshow

Look at the works in the exhibition through our slideshow:



Read/ watch interviews, reviews and features about Polly Braden: Holding the Baby below