This year, Head On Photo Festival 2022 comprises many photographers, who, through their stunning work, explore what it means to be or to know a mother. Their visual stories interweave, compliment, contradict and intersect in many ways, offering unique views on what it means to be a mother, the identity of motherhood, and the complexities of mother-child relationships.

Antonio Faccilongos series Habibi, meaning my love in Arabic, documents the lengths that Palestinian prisoners and their wives go to in the hopes of becoming parents or expanding their families. The photographs detail the womens desire to be a mother despite their husband’s imprisonment and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their persistence in mothering children acts as a form of rebellion in this on-going conflict. Faccilongos images are intimate and beautifully illustrate the hardship the prisoners wives face in their struggle to start a family on their own.   

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Antonio Faccilongo

Award-winning Australian photographer Lisa Murray’s work often revolves around her children and motherhood. Through my child’s eyes is an intimate body of work that covers Murray’s cancer diagnosis, surrogacy, and her relationship with her son. Her work lyrically contemplates the cognitive dissonance of bringing new life into the world while her life was being threatened by disease. This series uses images not only taken by Murray but also by her five-year-old son Griffin.

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Lisa Murray

Búsqueda, a photo series by Ingeborg Everaerd, explores the relationship between Everaerd and her son as they travel to his birth country of Colombia. Their bond is undeniable, but her images speak of the distance between them. She often uses her surroundings to bring a deeper level into her work, obscuring her son in different ways or photographing him from far away.

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Ingeborg Everaerd

Australian-born, current Florida resident Mikaela Martin works through her relationship with motherhood and what maternal means to her in Good Lord, leave your mother alone. She shows the viewer the difficulties a mother faces as she loses herself to motherhood and struggles with her connection to her family during COVID-19 when ‘a room of one’s own never felt possible.’

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Mikaela Martin

Aline Smithson used photography to explore her relationship with her mother in her series Arrangement in Green and Black, Portraits of the Photographer’s Mother. She began this work after finding a print of Whistler’s Arrangement in grey and black: portrait of the painter’s mother. From there, Smithson began posing her 85-year-old mother in different costumes and scenes furnished and styled by other garage sales. The finished project honours her hilarious yet proper mother, who unfortunately never got to see the finished images. this series has transformed into a testament of their final days together. 

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Aline Smithson

In Rachel Portesis Hair Portraits, she wrestles withher children growing up and losing part of her identity as a hands-on mother. Inspired by the tradition in the Victorian era of keeping locks of hair as a memento, Portesi uses hair as an accessory to her photography – shaping her hair into different shapes and designs to explore fertility, sexuality, and creativity. Her images represent major changes in her life as she finds parts of herself and loses others.

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Rachel Portesi

Check out this years exhibition at Paddington Reservoir Gardens, Bondi Beach promenade, and online to see our featured artists. 

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© Tim Smith (detail)