“Pioneering”, Dani Garavelli, Scotland on Sunday
The triumph of new motherhood. Stillbirth. Full-time fatherhood. Single parenthood. Miscarriage. Bringing up a child near a warzone. Bilingual speech development. Postnatal depression. Infertility. Adoption. Disability.
These are just some of the themes dealt with in the 39 works of art showcased as part of Project AfterBirth; the first ever international exhibition on the subject of early parenthood which launched in the UK in Autumn 2015.
Each of the works in the exhibition – which spans the visual, performance, literary, film and digital arts – were made in the 21st century and represent the personal pregnancy, birth or new parenthood experiences of 30 international contemporary male and female artists. Due to the lingering taboo status of parenthood in the contemporary art world and its perceived inferiority as a subject, most of the works had never been shown publicly before.
At times deeply moving and at times hilarious, the exhibition resonated with many visitors in terms of their own individual birth and childhood journeys, but also left a lasting impression on those with a professional responsibility for new parents’ well-being such as GPs, midwives, obstetricians, gynaecologists and mental health professionals. In addition, the exhibition was also a first in openly demonstrating the profound influence pregnancy, birth and new parenthood experiences can have on the practice of 21st century female and male artists.
In addition to Project AfterBirth founders/curators Mila Oshin and Kris Jager (a.k.a. artist duo Drunk With ), the exhibition’s selection panel members included Martha Joy Rose (Museum of Motherhood, New York, USA), Helen Knowles (Birth Rites Collection, Manchester, UK), Francesca Pinto (The Photographers’ Gallery, London, UK), and Stella Levy & Julie Gavin (White Moose, UK).
In spite of Project AfterBirth‘s tight parameters, the international open Call For Artists that took place resulted in more than 150 works from all over the world being submitted for consideration.
Project AfterBirth was conceived by Exeter based artist/curator/husband & wife duo Mila Oshin & Kris Jager whose own birth and early parenthood experiences informed their new body of work PASSAGE, published/released now as a poetry collection and music album.
Mila Oshin and Kris Jager said:
The contrast between the representation of pregnancy, birth and new parenthood in the media and our actual lived experiences is starker than ever before, and we are convinced this plays a big part in the increasing sense of isolation felt by 21st century parents and in the rise in perinatal mental health problems of mothers and fathers. By seeking out and publicly displaying outstanding and highly personal contemporary works of art that reveal the many true faces of parenthood, we hope Project AfterBirth will make its mark in raising the profile of parenthood as we all really know it.
The 30 international artists that were selected for Project AfterBirth are:
1. Alison O’Neill (UK)
2. Amanda West (USA)
3. Belinda Kochanowska (Australia)
4. Carole Evans (UK/Switzerland)
5. Chris Anthem (Lebanon/UK)
6. Clare Archibald (Scotland)
7. Courtney Kessel (USA)
8. Csilla Nagy (Hungary)
9. Danielle Hobbs (Australia)
10. Debbie Lee (UK)
11. Eti Wade (UK)
12. Geoffrey Harrison (UK)
13. Helen Sargeant (UK)
14. Hester Berry (UK)
15. Ione Rucquoi (UK)
16. Jana Kasalova (Czech Republic)
17. Jenny Lewis (UK)
18. Josie Beszant (UK)
19. Laura James Wray (UK/South Africa)
20. Lu Heintz (USA)
21. Madison Omahne (USA)
22. Magda Stawarska Beavan (UK/Poland)
23. Marilyn Kyle (UK)
24. Rachel Fallon (Ireland)
25. Rocio Saenz (Mexico)
26. Ruth Gray (UK)
27. Sasha Waters Freyer (USA)
28. Sarah Sudhoff (USA)
29. Tareg Morris (UK)
30. Trish Morrissey (UK/Ireland)
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Project AfterBirth‘s 2015 programme is delivered with support from: