In the United Kingdom, today marks the start of the annual National Breastfeeding Celebration Week. In honor of the celebration, artist Leanne Pearce will display her moving portfolio titled, “Breastfeed – portraits with a purpose.”
Some moms just seem to be able to balance it all, and Leanne Pearce is one of them. Inspired by her own breastfeeding experience, which Pearce admits was both challenging and precious, her passion for capturing breastfeeding moms and babies began with a self-portrait of her and her baby.
The mother of two was breastfeeding her youngest when she decided that she would capture the special experience between herself and her daughter. After successfully completing the portrait, she posted her picture on a closed Facebook page for breastfeeding moms and asked for models. The response was overwhelming, and she knew that she was on to something.
Pearce’s collection of portraits captures the intimacy of the breastfeeding relationship. She aims to display diversity in her work, painting mothers breastfeeding older children and tandem breastfeeding. She also includes mothers and children of varying ethnicities.
Pearce has specialized in portraits since the early 2000s. As a degree in fine arts was not enough for this aspiring artist, she obtained a second degree in graphic communications. Through the use of soft pastels and oils, she creates vibrant and colorful works of art. While she would love to paint the babies in real time, she uses a photograph image, admitting, “It’s really hard to paint wriggly babies.”
“Breastfeeding mothers are strong, powerful, nurturing humans and at some points fragile. Each mother and baby partnership has their own unique story which can change and evolve quite organically or indeed be disrupted.” Pearce writes. “Breastfeeding is often not plain sailing and many people feel vulnerable during this time. The series attempts to capture the loving, tender relationships and show a snapshot of the maternal bond in formation.”
In an interview with Unison Colour, Pearce shares that she has always wanted to help breastfeeding moms. In fact, she had taken a breastfeeding support course, but she did not feel comfortable in an advisory role. Instead, she uses her artwork to encourage breastfeeding.
Pearce hopes to have her work displayed in doctor’s offices and hospitals throughout the U.K. and beyond. She hopes that her artwork will begin a dialog between mothers and their caregivers.
She says, “The artwork is not a instruction manual, it is not clean and clinical. The paintings seek to reveal a true reflection of mothers experiences. This project aims to show truth and reveal real stories; the artwork is not based solely on a concept, but the visuals are a gentle pathway into conversations around the subject matter.”
Photo Credit “lucy” “me 2” by Leanne Pearce