Birth Rites: Childbirth exhibition to ‘crown’ winning artist at MediaCityUK

An exhibition exploring childbirth and the attitudes to pregnancy and women is set to ‘crown’ a winning artist at MediaCity UK this evening. 

The winner of the bi-annual Birth Rites Collection competition will receive a residency at the Women’s Art Library in London, and the chosen piece will be included in The Birth Rites Collection.

The collection is housed between the University of Salford’s Midwifery department and the Royal College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians.

Birth Rites Curator Helen Knowles told MM: “The calibre of entry is amongst the highest we’ve ever had and putting the shortlist together was no easy task. 

“Every artist that has submitted work deserves recognition but unfortunately there can only be one winner. It has been truly overwhelming.”

The collection aims to highlight the social, cultural, and political impact of childbirth by using art to encourage debate and raise awareness of the practices surrounding it.

 “How the artworks are used and engaged with by the students and midwifery staff is part of the excitement,” said Ms Knowles.

“How the public interpret and understand this work and its relationship to their bodies and birth in general and how it might change practice and give the chance for health professionals to reflect is really important.”

The lead midwife for education at the University of Salford, Elaine Uppal, revealed the University’s enthusiasm for the collection.

She said: “The University is delighted to be able to host this unique and exciting awards ceremony and exhibition. 

“So many of our staff and students enjoy and appreciate the Collection every day, so to be able to host the exhibition and see the award winner’s entry added to the collection will be very special for everyone involved with the Midwifery department.”

Entrants were received from a variety of artistic mediums, including everything from painting to experimental film.

Photographer Rina Dweck from New York, whose piece ‘Birth’ depicts the appearance of an adult as though they had just been born, has been short-listed for the award.

She explained how her piece fit into her wider work, which focuses on perception.

“The majority of my work focuses on the face. It is the originating source of most of our senses,” she said.

“We judge, examine, and sum up based on facial expressions and features.

“I view the photograph as the capturing of a moment, and the moments I capture are pieces in a larger trajectory, moments in a grander performance that define my aims and aesthetic.

“Birth was the first shot in my on-going project, Sides.”

Judges will select the winner of the award, held every two years, from a shortlist of 23 after an initial 111 entries were received.

Artists that were shortlisted will also have their entries screened digitally in Media City on the day of the award ceremony.

The award ceremony will take place on Friday March 13 at Media City UK from 6pm, with the exhibition open to the public until Wednesday March 18.

Image courtesy of Birth Rites, with thanks.

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