Tatsiana Tkachova

MOTHERLAND

Belarus

MOTHERLAND

My mother was born on the edge of a forest in Belarus. She lost her baby, my sibling, because of the Chernobyl disaster. She struggled as a single mother and she sacrificed everything for me. My mother had 19 golden fillings for 20 years – she used them to buy my first camera. She lives in a small village in the East of Belarus. Almost nobody knows where Belarus is. A lot of people in Europe think that it’s located somewhere in Siberia.

For a few years, I obsessively took portraits of her and the universe she created in her parents’ house. It was the universe of my mother - my MotherLand. In March 2021, I had to leave Belarus. I'm a journalist. I can't go back. Since then, I haven’t seen my mother, but we continue to speak by phone. I began to make screenshots as we spoke and as she showed me her everyday life. My morning begins with audio messages that my mother sends me every day. These images and connections became my unexpected link to the home I think I have lost forever. This is my ode to my MotherLand that I will never lose.


My mother just woke up and smokes her first cigarette in the garden. Summer is my mother’s favourite time because she can spend a lot of time in the garden and work with plants and flowers, like my grandmother did.

My mother just woke up and smokes her first cigarette in the garden. Summer is my mother’s favourite time because she can spend a lot of time in the garden and work with plants and flowers, like my grandmother did.

New Year’s Address to the People by Belarusian President Lukashenko. After August 2020, thousands of people left Belarus. This was my last New Year celebration with my mother.

New Year’s Address to the People by Belarusian President Lukashenko. After August 2020, thousands of people left Belarus. This was my last New Year celebration with my mother.

My mother and my cousin Natalia fixing the cornice that fell last night.

My mother and my cousin Natalia fixing the cornice that fell last night.

This is a special bath, in which I was bathed when I was born. Now it is a flowerbed, where flowers grow in the garden near the house where my mother lives.

This is a special bath, in which I was bathed when I was born. Now it is a flowerbed, where flowers grow in the garden near the house where my mother lives.

My mother takes apples out of the pantry to bake a cake for me. She cooks a pie using grandma's recipe. In the pantry, she stores vegetables and fruit that were harvested in the summer.

My mother takes apples out of the pantry to bake a cake for me. She cooks a pie using grandma's recipe. In the pantry, she stores vegetables and fruit that were harvested in the summer.

The interior of my mother’s house.

The interior of my mother’s house.

My mother brings the carpet into the house after cleaning it in the snow in the winter. Outside, it is minus 20 degrees Celsius.

My mother brings the carpet into the house after cleaning it in the snow in the winter. Outside, it is minus 20 degrees Celsius.

Snowy sky at night in Krasnopolie, a village in the East of Belarus, where my mother lives.

Snowy sky at night in Krasnopolie, a village in the East of Belarus, where my mother lives.

New Year’s dish - chicken with apples. This is a traditional dish that my mother makes for the holiday table.

New Year’s dish - chicken with apples. This is a traditional dish that my mother makes for the holiday table.

My mother goes to a well to bring clean water. The water that flows through the pipes in the house has a red colour. She gets clean water to cook from the well in the next street.

My mother goes to a well to bring clean water. The water that flows through the pipes in the house has a red colour. She gets clean water to cook from the well in the next street.

My mother waits for the floor to dry after cleaning to put the furniture back in its place.

My mother waits for the floor to dry after cleaning to put the furniture back in its place.

My mother showers outside in the summer bathroom.

My mother showers outside in the summer bathroom.

The neighbour’s cat sleeps in the summer room near the house where Mum lives.

The neighbour’s cat sleeps in the summer room near the house where Mum lives.

My cousin Natalia, my mother’s goddaughter, lights a cigarette before going for a walk

My cousin Natalia, my mother’s goddaughter, lights a cigarette before going for a walk

My mother dries the carpet after cleaning.

My mother dries the carpet after cleaning.

Summer herbs in boiling water according to grandma’s recipe for washing hair.

Summer herbs in boiling water according to grandma’s recipe for washing hair.

My cousin Natalia during her morning wash.

My cousin Natalia during her morning wash.

My mother’s special tools that she needs for gardening and laundry.

My mother’s special tools that she needs for gardening and laundry.

The flowers my grandmother planted. Now they are being looked after by my mother.

The flowers my grandmother planted. Now they are being looked after by my mother.