With five children spanning from 22 to just four years of age and an art practice that regularly puts her in far-flung places, to say that artist Jasmine Mansbridge’s life sounds hectic would be an understatement. Full to the brim with commissions, exhibitions and plenty of travel, it sounds exhausting and amazing in equal measure and I suspect she wouldn’t have it any other way!
“I have found that not being at home 100 percent of the time, just makes me so happy and engaged when I am, and that I notice all the small parenting joys and am overwhelmed with love and gratitude for time with my children.” With a home studio in rural Victoria and one in Geelong, Jasmine regularly travels to paint her signature murals too, and is currently in London doing just that. “I paint my large scale works approximately one week per month. This requires me to travel and I have done some great trips over the last few years.”
When she’s away from her home studio and painting, Jasmine finds she can put in 14-hour days, separated from the mental load that is running a home life. “I am not sure that I will always have the energy to do what I am now, but I am making the most of the opportunities given to me at this point in my life,” says Jasmine, whose children are aged 22, 19, 10, seven and four. Just, wow!
As for the working mum juggle, she keeps her many balls in the air with an army of help that includes her older children, mother in-law, formal childcare and casual teenage babysitters. “I am well supported to do what I am doing. The truth is though that this has taken years and it shifted when my work went from being a ‘hobby’ to a business – that’s when the support came. I try to treat my work as a ‘real’ job and that way help with the kids is validated.”
Her older daughters at university in Geelong often come home to help or, for example, take their siblings to a park while Jasmine works or goes into Melbourne for a meeting. “My mother in law is a wonderful help to me and has had all of my children one day a week until they have gone off to school. One day a week doesn’t seem like a lot but it’s amazing what you can do in a day. My husband is a wonderful father as well and so I know the children are looked after well when I am away.” He works seasonally meaning he is away for most of the warmer months and around much more in winter. “The juggle really is week to week, day by day,” says Jasmine.
And when Jasmine is home with her children, she puts her mum hat on in the day and paints at night, starting at around 8.30pm when everyone is in bed. This time is also used to cook and sort things in anticipation for her next trip. “A good friend and mentor said to me some time back, when I was really pushing to make things happen that ‘to be successful you often have to defy convention’ and so I think of that quote often when I am planning how to get a project done. I also ask myself often ‘How would a male artist do this? How would they approach this, and would they feel guilty?’”
And as for ‘having it all,’ Jasmine believes that given every mother has a different situation, support network, priorities and goals we should be very wary of comparison. “I don’t think you can ‘have it all’ but if you can figure out the one or two things you think you must have, then maybe you can have that. I certainly don’t ‘have it all’ and there have been lots of things I have sacrificed along the way to make my work. I don’t get enough sleep or spend enough time with my friends or my husband. But, what I have is what I have worked out makes me function at a high level and what makes me really engaged and happy as a person, which all filters down to my kids.”
“For me it’s about the big picture of work/life balance and making sure everyone is doing ok and changing things quickly when things are not. I love my children and hope that I inspire them to be their best selves and to always challenge how they are ‘doing’ life and not just accept what rolls their way.”
Conscious of never making it look like her life is easy, Jasmine says: “I think the worst thing woman can do is compare their success, or perceived lack of, with other women. The truth is it’s a ton of hard work and there are some stressful moments behind the scenes if there is a deadline looming. It has also taken years to build things to where they are now.”
Jasmine’s next exhibition opens on 24 August 2019 at 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace on Queensland’s Mermaid Beach.
This was the first in our new series called Working Mums Australia where we interview women in the interiors and design space and explore how they do the work/mum juggle.
Photography: Madi Whyte