Birth Rites collection launch at King’s

Next Thursday evening (25/1/18), King’s College London will host an opening night gathering to celebrate the launch of the Birth Rites collection installation throughout the the Guy’s campus. The event is free and open to the public, but you have to book.

“And I assure you that it was a very startling thing for me to hear a woman describing her feelings as she gave birth in the same words used by Bucke to describe cosmic consciousness or by Huxley to describe the mystic experience in all cultures and eras or by Ghiselin to describe the creative process or by Suzuki to describe the Zen satori experience.” – Abraham Maslow, describing ‘peak experiences’

“Terese crowning in ecstatic childbirth” from Ina May Gaskin’s book ‘Ina May’s guide to childbirth’ Hermione Wiltshire, 2008,  black and white photograph. Birth Rites Collection.

Birth Rites is the first and only collection of contemporary art dedicated to the subject of childbirth. Works in the collection explore the intersection of emotional and technological experience of birth in 21st century culture.

Artist book ‘Cock’s Comb’ screen printed by Helen Knowles, bound by Helen Johnson and made in collaboration with teenage parents at Salford Women’s Centre. The book explored the teenage mothers language they used for the body and their experiences of childbirth by incorporating their drawings and writings, it also made reference to ‘The midwives Book’ written by Jane Sharpe in 1734, the first English midwifery text written by a woman. Detail of artist book ‘Cock’s Comb’ screen printed by Helen Knowles, bound by Helen Johnson and made in collaboration with teenage parents at Salford Women’s Centre.

The images are powerful and challenging, especially for those who are not used to seeing women’s faces and bodies transformed by the work of labour and birth. They provoke, and some are uncomfortable, controversial.

‘Yoga positions for Birth’ 2008 by Hermione Wiltshire. Photographic installation. Birth Rites Collection.

But this is the purpose of art. Private, hidden moments are public for a flash. And we’d love to hear your thoughts about it. If you are near London next Thursday, please do join us.

— Shawn

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