The first event at the new Parkhead Art Studio was on the 15th of October on Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. It is a campaign close to my heart so even though I had just got the keys days before I was determined that this event would christen the Artist-in-Residence programme. It seemed perfect timing that a project (and space) which from its outset aimed to be community focused, culturally aware and inclusive would firstly dedicate time and resources to a section of the community often forgotten- the 1 in 4 pregnancies lost and parents left behind.
As the date drew closer I thought of all the women effected in Parkhead and what opportunities they had available to them to explore this difficult type of loss. The confusion, the disappointment, the anger, the heartbreak, the hopelessness, the failure, the judgement, the loneliness. I wanted to provide a time and space where they could turn to for support, contemplation- where they could let themselves just be- in their identity post-loss. Wave of Light was a place for quiet reflection, the lighting of candles to acknowledge life and loss, sharing experiences in conversation, and providing creative activities to explore the subject of pregnancy loss. Our Parkhead ‘Wave of Light’ joining with others across the globe as candles were lit at 7pm as part of remembrance day.
Wave of Light
As part-remembrance, part-creative collaboration I encouraged women to light a group of candles- one for each of their pregnancies. At the end of the night I asked the women to bring the candles representing their lost pregnancies together to the centre of the room. Illustrating as we gathered in this activity that not only us, but also our babies, were part of a community.
Light in the darkness
Women were encouraged to share a piece of ‘light’ for those struggling in the darkness of grief. A message of support, a piece of advice or an encouragement for the days ahead.
Darkness vs Light
Darkness vs Light could also be called Lies vs Truth, or Curses vs Blessings. Women were asked to write a lie they had believed about themselves or their loss in dark crayon, they were then asked to write a truth they clung to to counteract this lie in white crayon. It was heartbreaking to read the lies the women believed in their darkest hours. However, we next took black ink and blocked out the text. As the ink dried our lies faded away and our truths were revealed, shining out to the room as we pinned them up.
As a small gift to take home from the evening the women were invited to make a tealight holder so they had the opportunity to light another candle once they got home. They were each given a class tealight holder, glass paints and pens, and stickers and encouraged to reflect on the identity of the pregnancy they lost. Many pregnancies end before the baby has a name so a word which described their short life or the effect it had on the mother was often chosen instead of a name.
Colouring and Chat
I would like to thank Ashleigh Smith for her wonderful and sensitive photography on the night and for all the support behind the scenes especially Debs Craig and Shelley Kenny.