In the beginning of this year I have been commissioned to created an artwork for the ‘Tomorrow’s Child’ exhibition at the Houses of Parliament, Westminster.
‘Tomorrow’s Child’ exhibition, organised by the charity Parent Infant Partnership (PIP) UK, presents a creative response to the 1001 Critical Days Manifesto: conception to age 2 period – asking for cultural shift in thinking about the importance of the antenatal period and its significance for the future life chances of the unborn baby.
Earliest relationships and children’s experiences of this right from their experience in the womb, lays in the foundation of potential and building blocks to support infant and early childhood mental health.
Creative collaborations between a community of 30 artists and 30 scientists have generated a fascinating menagerie of art objects, images and designs, which positions this exhibition as a pioneering piece of neuroscientific enterprise. Each artist has been matched with one scientist in order to explore the particular area of their interest. As an artist whose work is focused on the exploration of human nature, I have been collaborating on this project with a wonderful psychotherapist Holli Rubin, the prominent body-image specialist. The result of our teamwork is my piece ‘We Were Born Upside Down’ and Holli’s scientific elaborate on how the physical change affects how people feel about themselves.
As Holli wrote:
‘Body image is defined as how we see our physical selves and how that impacts us emotionally. Appearance and its impact on self-esteem has always existed but with the rise of social media, this problem is more tenuous than ever.
Body image is a subjective experience; how we feel about the way we look. This process and self-belief system has an insidious way of establishing itself. Consciously or unconsciously, it affects not only the self, but these messages get transmitted very early on, to the next generation.
This intergenerational transmission of body image comes through in the established thoughts and behaviours of mother. Her early thoughts, sometimes whilst baby is still in utero, may impact on her capacity to bond with baby in the early days and consequently, in how the relationship between mother and baby forms and develops.
We see in Karpowicz’s couple only a thin veil of clothing loosely covering their bodies, there exists minimal separation between the internal and external worlds. They are exposed. Vulnerable. Practically naked. As the veil and the armour we wear to cover and protect ourselves breaks down, we can fall apart. In therapy, when we are exposed, we then can begin to work in what lies beneath. Healing happens as this integration of who we expose to the world and who we authentically are that allows us to feel whole.
Working first with mother or both parents helps to focus on and understand their own body image. By understanding first their own feelings about their physical selves, this can enlighten their parenting and have a profound effect on their relationship with their child. The couple, holding hands and the mother carrying baby, shows connection. Moving from the safety of the couple, ‘two’, to accommodating baby, now ‘three’, is frightening. This fear, shown especially through the man’s face, of the unknown and what the parents feel as they embark on uncharted territory. It is, however, certain that this baby will carry hopes and dreams of both parents and prior generations.“
‘Tomorrow’s Child’ Exhibition will take place at the Houses of Parliament, Westminster 27 June – 1 July 2016.