Visit the Birth Rites Collection in Kent without leaving home.
The collection was founded in 2009 by curator Helen Knowles. This non-profit collection is the first and only collection of contemporary art that is dedicated to the subject of childbirth. Birth Rites Collection (BRC) aims to facilitate the production of new cutting edge works by artists who might not normally address the subject because of its taboo status within contemporary art practice, to support the work of artists whose work already engages with issues on this subject and to acquire relevant existing works to expand the collection.
Helen has developed this project with her own means over the years alongside support from organisations like Arts Council England whilst being on long-term loan at three universities over the past 15 years.
The collection is currently housed at the University of Kent, where it took up residence in March 2022 and comprises photography, sculpture, painting, artist books, print, wallpaper, drawing, new media and film. Artists in the collection include: Judy Chicago, Liv Pennington, Himali Singh Soin, Lauren McLaughlin and Ana Casa Broda amongst many others. To date it cares for 87 artist works. It has loaned works to numerous exhibitions including TJ Boulting and Richard Saltoun Galleries.
Through the presentation and dissemination of the work in the public domain, BRC encourages debate and increases awareness around childbirth practice. The project highlights issues like the shift towards medical intervention in birth and explores the impact of biomedical advances in technology. BRC explores whether society’s focus on propelling women on to an equal footing with men in the workplace, erodes their importance as mothers and investigate how free women are to give birth in a way they want. The Birth Rites Collection considers who controls the process of childbirth and why.
Join us to tour the collection and hear about its founding and aspirations by Zoom.
Free for all.
Image: Nora Heidorn and Jinia Tasnin, Touching Matters of Care, (Prorace Cervical Cap, 1915-20), NFT 2022