Birth Rites Collection

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Suzanne Holtom, 2008, Oil on Linen, 185 x 190 cm


Suzanne Holtom spent 5 weeks working closely with Sarah Vause, obstetrician at St. Mary’s Hospital in Manchester. Suzanne built close relationships with some of the women she met and this became an integral part of her developing work. ‘Contact’ is a slightly dull, washed out pink  (the colour of hospitals), where the application of the paint is out of control, dripping and lactating. This contrasts sharply with the hard-edged technology which surrounds Ildiko, the woman who is depicted engaged in the precious contact time she has with her baby. It is not only the awkward yet absorbed moment of mother and baby that is represented but also the contact between the monitor and the baby, where the monitor measures heart rate, feeding and breathing. Suzanne has come to focus on the site where technology and the body meet. A site which, in the process of birth, can be seen as a place of dependency and conflict, raising issues of care, control, displacement and surveillance.

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