Maya Angelou’s poemMother, A Cradle To Hold Meopens with a stanza that hits home for mothers and children in the way that only this truly special bond can. No matter how complex life is, an undeniable and central part of it is birth and through it, motherhood.
How are you celebrating Mother’s Day? Call us biased but we think she’d appreciate a beautiful set of bed or bath linen. For all you mothers reading, we put this piece together so you can pass on the hint and, also, for an insightful look at this seminal experience through the lens of art, film, music and literature.
Madonna and Child, Duccio di Buoninsegna, Italy, ca. 1290–1300 | Arnolfini Portrait, Jan van Eyck, Bruges, 1434
ART | Madonna and Child & the Arnolfini Portrait
Madonnas or Maestas (“The Virgin Majesty”) as sacred figures depicted on majestic architectural thrones with golden backgrounds were directly inherited from the Byzantine era. They became a key feature of the Western artistic tradition in medieval times, symbolizing the divine significance bestowed upon motherhood.
Art history is perhaps one of the most interesting ways to observe how cultural perspectives have (or haven’t) evolved: compare the first with the Arnolfini Portrait (1434) to see how things changed within a few hundred years. A man and a woman hold hands in an interior setting, with natural symbolism of 15th c. marital roles – while husbands went out to engage in business, wives concerned themselves with domestic duties.
FILM | Parallel Mothers, Pedro Almodóvar
If ever there was a recurring muse and theme that defined Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar’s body of work, our best guess would be the influence of strong maternal figures. Parallel Mothers, released in 2021, delves into the ties that bind mother to child, and women to other women, but with extraordinarily deep twists that we’ve come to expect and cherish from him. Most importantly, it does what all good Almodóvar films do, which is remind us that it’s good to be alive – and who do we have to thank more than our mothers for that?
SHOP NOW | A beautiful set of bed or bath linen could be the perfect gift to show mum you care
MUSIC | 30, Adele
When the 15-time Grammy award-winning singer released her fourth album 30 in 2021, its emotional heft sent us into a tizzy. She seemed to have found the words, set to her iconic voice, that made every mother feel seen. In the chorus of the track Easy On Me, she pleads;
“Go easy on me, baby
I was still a child
Didn’t get the chance to
Feel the world around me
I had no time to choose
What I chose to do
So go easy on me”
How powerful it is to pursue your own happiness, when historically women have been raised to put our needs on the back burner for those we love. The lyrics echoed sentiments of being a mother and wife and disappearing into those titles.
Still from The Lost Daughter film adaptation courtesy Netflix, directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal, starring Olivia Colman and Dakota Johnson
LITERATURE | The Lost Daughter, Elena Ferrante
In the realm of novels on the subject, Ferrante’s The Lost Daughter is a tour de force about the powerful bond between mothers and daughters. The very first page sets into play the entwining of the past and present, a narrative pattern that shapes and continually arouses friction. The narrator’s efforts to explain a chain of decisions that intensely shaped her life makes for compelling prose, and the first chapter ends with her concluding, “the hardest things to talk about are the ones we ourselves can’t understand.”
As we said above, understanding life’s twists and turns is intrinsic to the mother-child dynamic––and one we can only hope to get closer to unravelling together from one year to the next. Happy Mother’s Day!