Collection of art and poetry on stillbirth to be launched

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A book of art and poetry about stillbirth - the death of a baby, over 24 weeks old, before or during delivery – is to be launched in Newcastle later this month. Still Born is by artist Adinda van ’t Klooster, who gave birth to a stillborn daughter, Elvira Elina, in 2010.

Since then she has been making artwork about, and informed by, the experience. Her new book Still Born combines a personal selection of this artwork alongside responses by eight poets, her own narrative, and text by stillbirth specialist and obstetrician Alexander Heazell of Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre at the University of Manchester.

The poems are by Roger Bloor, Christine Bousfield, Jennie Farley, Rebecca Goss, Sarah James, Karen Mc Carthy Woolf, Claire Potter and Wendy Pratt. Some of the poets have their own personal experience of stillbirth, miscarriage or the death of a baby later in life; some have witnessed the loss and pain of stillbirth in others.

Rebecca Goss’ second collection Her Birth told a story of love, loss and grief for a baby daughter, and was shortlisted for the Forward prize in 2013. Karen McCarthy Woolf’s first collection An Aviary of Small Birds was a book of elegies that commemorated a stillborn son, and was nominated for the Forward and Aldeburgh best first collection prizes.

Adinda van ’t Klooster said: “The artworks in Still Born were made over a seven-year period and chart the different stages one goes through in grief. Denial and anger are represented in the early porcelain uterus pieces and Tree of Sadness (pictured), made in 2013, highlights feelings of deep sadness and isolation. In my most recent work I have been able to take more distance and approach the subject matter as a societal problem, not just a personal one.”

Prof Alexander Heazell said: “One in 224 pregnancies end in stillbirth, but nobody speaks about it and parents feel isolated and alone in their grief. Art and the written word offer an accessible means to inform and challenge the viewer in a quiet personal space. I hope that this book will help to reduce the stigma and taboo which so often prevent parents from being able to talk about stillbirth openly.”

The book will be launched at Northern Print, Stepney Bank, Newcastle on 22 March at 6pm. Some of the original artworks from the book will be on display and Roger Bloor, Christine Bousfield and Wendy Pratt will read their poems. RSVP to steve@sfppr.co.uk if you would like to attend.

 

ARTWORK: ADINDA VAN ’T KLOOSTER

 

 

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