This week’s blog is dedicated the amazing work that Open House Nottingham do for women who are affected by pre and postnatal illness. Meeting these women over four years ago led to me coordinating a profoundly personal exhibition which was described by one visitor as
‘A clever fusion of photography and writing exploring women’s experience of postnatal depression. Each woman takes you on journey through her own personal experience of early motherhood and how their illnesses impacted on this. It’s also uplifting as each woman describes their own route to recovery and how things changed for them as they became well again. Open House aims to bring post natal depression out into the open, to break down barriers and remove stigma and with this moving exhibition they do just that. Book an hour into your diary, head to The Malt Cross and share these courageous women’s experiences.’
Helena – Nottingham 2015
I was so deeply moved by the stories that the women shared with me, that I felt that how I presented them to the public should do them justice. I collaborated with Helen of Helen Makes Paper to produce a structurally fragile lap sized book, that requested the reader ‘handle with care.’ Threads hung symbolically from the hand-stitched spines in various shades of blue.It was powerful.
The photographer, Paul Dale, handled the womens’ portraits with the same amount of reverence and produced hauntingly melancholic images that made an emotional impact on everyone that saw them, including me. Having the visual to bolster the words led to the realisation that not only what these women were doing for others was brave, it must also have been painful to delve back and retrieve those memories. Neverthless, they all felt that telling their stories and charting their recovering in this way, would bring hope to those who may be suffering in silence and bring mental illness into the spotlight.
Which is why I am absolutely thrilled that the ladies want to bring those stunning images and delicate story books back out into the open and re-exhibit them where they started their journey. It was clear from the carefully composed messages in the guest book that the exhibition had made the impact that we had all hoped and we were approached later that year by Lauren of MollyQueen Collective who wanted to include it as part of a ‘Face Value’ Exhibition at Carnival MAD15. This event was to mark Mental Health Awareness Month so it seems fitting that this October ‘It’s Not the Baby Blues’ will be out of it’s bubble wrap and back on display for a third time.
The exhibition opens on Wednesday 4th October with a private view and to the public on Thursday 5th October and will run for ten days. In November I will also be taking part in another fundraising event for Open House Nottingham which I am also be looking forward to. It is always a pleasure to spend time with these inspiring and courageous women and have a small part to play in their mission to conquer the stigma surrounding mental illness.
In the meantime I am quietly putting together a new collection for Autumn that will definitely nurture your nostalgic side.
Until next week