Nicole Morris living with Alicia Reyes Mc Namara

You arrived in a jiffy bag, protected in a layer of bubble wrap accompanied by a handwritten post-it note: ‘ I am glad she is with you.’

I unpacked you and lay you on my bed, looking around, searching for somewhere for you to rest but not stay, wracked with your impermanence. The question of how I care for you resounding in the room.

The wall would require a hole—a cavity that would outlive you—, which would remain a reminder of your absence when you are gone. The cabinet would be too close to the window—fears of humidity, light, exposure. I decide to prop you in the corner on the desk, looking out into the room. I remove the lamp that was there and take the time to move you when watering plants; move the cups that get placed too close to you; remind family members that you are there. We have visitors stay and I decide to put you back in your jiffy bag in the safety of the wardrobe, away from water, sunlight and ruin. These first few weeks, you live in a perpetual state of transition, punctured by moments of rest bite on the (temporary) softness of our bed.

In many ways you remind me of the evening we brought Ula home from the hospital after she was born. We lay her on the same bed and looked at her. In this process of looking we withdrew from time, as Lisa Baraitser describes, by taking on practices that take too much time we had established a form of ‘care without ending’- that is maintaining, preserving, waiting, delaying, staying, recalling, remaining.’ [1]

Looking at you, becoming accustomed to this new body in my bedroom. The softness of your hair. A face I cannot see. Your legs parted over a stream of water, fish that swim beneath you, flow out of you. You are at once my mother, my daughter, my lover. Myself?

The morning Ula arrived in the water I swooped down and picked her up. I held her and in my arms she was immediately wet and heavy and cold. With the fear of her slipping out, I held her closer, the distant muffled shouting in the room to rub her whilst she turned from blue to grey. As she was taken from me, I sat in our pool of water, under the early morning glow of winter’s light and thought about loss. Time stilled and I remained.

[The process of looking at something so still for so long until eventually it starts looking back at you.]

I wonder about her relationship to her body. Her long flowing thick hair, her strong hands and feet as they lay rooted on the ground keeping her secure. Her pert breasts and the gentle unobtrusive crease of her stomach. This is a body that feels inherited; a body that has the confidence to look at itself.

I think about the fish as they swim away from you, and how it will feel to be left behind. This temporary transformation of need coming to an end. [2]

The doing is in the how we care. Too much caring can be consuming. Women specially know how care can devour their lives, how it can asphyxiate other possible skills. But care can also extinguish the subtleties of attending to the needs of an ‘other’ required for careful rationality. All too easily it can lead to appropriating the recipients of ‘our care’, instead of relating ourselves to them.’ [3]

Over time you become part of the room. My restlessness of protecting you subsides as I know our time is drawing to an end and you will soon leave. I think through the process of putting you back in the jiffy bag you came in, of walking you to the post office, of saying goodbye. And I wonder about how you wanted me to see you and whether I should have cared for you differently.


[1] Baraitser, Lisa, Enduring Time, Bloomsbury (2017) p.177 and 183


[3] Puig de la Bellacasa, Maria, Nothing Comes Without its World: Thinking with Care, The sociological Review (2012) p 209


Text by Nicole Morris in response to living with

‘She who gives II’, by Alicia Reyes McNamara

Pastels and coloured pencil on paper, 21 x 29.7 cm



‘Living With’ was produced during lockdown 2020 and sought to reflect on the conditions we found ourselves in. A circular exchange of artworks was set up between artists Kira Freije, Onyeka Igwe, Maria de Lima, Nicole Morris, Alicia Reyes McNamara and Katie Schwab. Each artist was invited to exhibit in an assigned room of another artist’s home, in turn sharing images of the artworks installed in their own home alongside their response to living with this work.

‘Living With’ was the third iteration of the self-initiated project INGEST/DIGEST/EXCRETE, which was established in 2018 by Maria de Lima and
 Nicole Morris. Taking multiple formats including, exhibition, residency, publication, radio broadcast and symposium, the project considered collaboration and how a network of friendship can create spaces for shared dialogue, exchange and production. Over the past three years we have explored the home as a context for this project, which has housed the conversations, material explorations and social encounters that we have archived here.