Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Birth Rites

An exhibition exploring the politics and practice of childbirth through contemporary artwork, uniting artists and childbirth professionals to consider the social, cultural and political implications of the way we give birth.

"The exhibition includes a series of paintings by Suzanne Holtom, inspired by her stint shadowing an obstetrician in Manchester. Holtom's themes are isolation and separation; her diptych, Contact, shows a woman cradling her baby in a special care baby unit, head bent low as she tries to rediscover the intimacy of pregnancy amid a bank of machines and tangled cables. Another of Holtom's paintings, Room 7/T+4, depicts a woman in classic labour pose, on her back with her knees lifted. The woman's legs - the focus of her effort, of her pain perhaps - are sharply defined, while her face and head are blurred to suggest the disorientation of the contraction. The image shows the woman in profile, and the centre of the canvas empty, while at the foot of the bed, two midwives peer into the space between the woman's legs.

For Holtom, one of the most fascinating issues around modern childbirth is how it is observed; in Room 7/T+4 she implies that the labouring woman actually feels completely alone, despite being closely watched."

The art of creation, Wednesday May 28, 2008, The Guardian

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