HOLDING THE BABY : by Polly Braden, The Rural Gaze


Polly Braden collaborated with two single mothers and their children in the rural West Midlands to create bodies of work for HOLDING THE BABY. The project shifts entrenched assumptions, particularly about single mums, and highlights the imagination, determination, strength and resilience of being a lone parent. There are over 2 million single parent households in the UK. 91% are single mothers. Creating a home, making a world for ourselves and our loved ones, is a fundamental human process.

Through a collaborative process based on photographs and interviews, the project highlights the day-to-day reality of what it means to be a single parent – the economic pressures, benefit sanctions, difficulty finding affordable childcare and isolation – and how despite financial hardship, single mothers succeed, nonetheless, in creating a sense of home and belonging.

Polly Braden is a documentary photographer whose work features an ongoing conversation between the people she photographs and the environment in which they find themselves. Highlighting the small, often unconscious gestures of her subjects, Polly particularly enjoys long-term, in depth collaborations that in turn lends her photographs a unique, quiet intimacy. Polly has produced a large body of work that includes not only solo exhibitions and magazine features, but most recently four books: Adventures in the Lea Valley (Hoxton Mini Press, 2016), Great Interactions: Life with Learning Disabilities and Autism (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2016), Out of the Shadows: The Untold Story of People with Autism or Learning Disabilities (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2018) alongside writer Sally Williams, and London’s Square Mile: A Secret City (Hoxton Mini Press, 2019.)


Image Credit:  Polly Braden

Copyright 2016 GRAIN.