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Madonna as a Young Mum

Madonna as a Young Mum combines archival photographs of myself as a young mother with traditional religious iconography of Madonna and Child. In these collages, I have replaced my own face with that of the Virgin Mary’s and combined a traditional colour palette found in religious iconography with mark making that could be found in a teenage diary. Throughout Christianity, the colour red is often thought to represent sin, hellfire and the devil meanwhile blue signifies God and his moral law. In modern society the cultural legacy of the Virgin Mary has continued to impose unrealistic maternal standards, while the young unmarried mother has been positioned as the ultimate sinner; stigmatised, shamed, abused and punished by church and state. By positioning my young self as the Madonna, I’m bridging the gap between these maternal extremes and aiming to provoke empathy for the younger version of myself. How might my experience have differed if I had felt valued and welcomed in society and represented in our culture? How could my mental health have improved if I didn’t have a pregnancy shrouded in shame? Might I have been a better mother if I had the social, cultural and economic support systems available to me that many older wealthier mothers receive?

L M Lauren McLaughlin

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