In a powerful portrait of single parent families in the UK, Polly Braden uses photography to explore the individuals most affected by years of austerity.
Polly Braden’s participatory project has been inspired by a United Nations report by poverty expert Philip Alston in 2019, which stated that single parents have been hardest hit by austerity measures in the UK. In collaboration with charities, law firms, community hubs, and arts and women’s organisations, Braden has been working with a number of single parents, based in Bristol and elsewhere, over the last two years.
The exhibition includes captivating photographs, many of which have been taken by parents themselves in lockdown, excerpts from interviews with the parents conducted by journalist Sally Williams, and a written collage by writer Claire-Louise Bennett where a wider group of parents discuss their favourite thing at home. Everything on display is accompanied by Rob Minto’s stark data on what it means to be a single parent in the UK today.
Holding the Baby encapsulates how families facing immense financial and social pressure have been able to transcend challenging situations with resilience, optimism, creativity, and ambition, delving into the lived experience of single parents living under austerity.