This work has developed from a residency at the UCD College of Health Sciences through conversations with Dr.Maria Healy, Head of Midwifery, UCD. Dr. Healy’s research interests include Women's experiences of childbirth & midwifery care; Promoting normal processes of birth and developing midwifery practice. My interest comes from my experience of giving birth in Ireland in 2008 and 2010 which highlighted concerns for me that I was already dealing within my art practice, investigating how connecting, communicating, listening and being listened to impacts on the quality of ones life.
“We cannot underestimate the lasting impact the experience of giving birth has on women. The way they were made to feel at this time stays with mothers forever."
Mary Higgins and Sue Bree, International Confederation of Midwifes.
We are all born, but how much do we acknowledge our place of beginning? The latest scientific research that is starting to link the way babies are born with health in later life. I am investigating the social, political and artistic implications of work around the subject of childbirth in contemporary art. Why is the subject of birth rarely engaged with in contemporary art? And why is the representation less “at home” in the art world than other controversial subjects, such as death? I want to highlight issues like the shift towards medical intervention in birth and explore the impact of biomedical advances in technology. How free women are to give birth in a way they want? I want to ask people to consider the question who controls the process of childbirth and why? I am investigating the role of the artist in healthcare education. What kinds of knowledge can an artwork produce in this space? Can the artwork be used in education practice? Will it be useful?
The poster presented in this exhibition is the recruitment poster that has been placed in satellite clinics for NMH Community Midwives with the aim of recruiting participants for a research initiative investigating birth experience.
Emma is currently Artist in Residence in UCD College of Health Sciences where she is lead Investigator on a research team with a midwifery lecturer Dr. Maria Healy and midwife, Teresa McCreery based at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street. Together they are working on the research initiative: An interpretive phenomenological study: Illuminating childbirth experiences of women attending a midwife-led service via visual art works. Insights from this research will highlight women’s lived experiences of childbirth vis visual artworks and academic publications. The artworks will be included in the UCD Health Sciences Library in book format as an educational tool alongside academic books.