Rose & Blue
3 November 1997 to 2 November 1998
St George’s Hospital
Fetal Medicine Unit
Lanesborough Wing, 4th Floor
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm

Background

The Fetal Medicine Unit was opened in August 1996. It is a purpose built scanning unit. All patients having their babies at St George’s come to the Unit at least twice for a scan and if they experience any problems with their pregnancy will come to be assessed and monitored. The Unit is a Specialist Unit which also takes referrals from other hospitals for patients who may have any potential problems with their babies and it offers these women counselling advice and treatment. In most cases the pregnancy reaches a happy conclusion.

Rose & Blue is the second exhibition to be held at the Fetal Unit Medicine. The first exhibition, Unfolding (7 February - 31 October 1997) was initiated by Dr Yves Ville who wished to improve the Unit’s environment. Both director and curator believe that exhibiting women artists’ work which celebrates women’s creativity and strength is appropriate to the Unit where patients are often anxious about their pregnancy. Curated by Françoise Dupré in collaboration with Dr Yves Ville, Unfolding was well received by staff, patients and their relatives. The exhibition was funded by the Fetal Unit Medicine and sponsored by Evian.

For curator and doctor the context of the exhibition raised challenging questions about the kind of images one exhibits in a Fetal Medicine Unit. Concerns were raised about patient’s cultural identity, their feelings and response to their medical tests and treatments and finally their perception and understanding of the art work on display. Yves Ville and Françoise Dupré felt that it was important to develop further the partnership. Rose and Blue is a more ambitious exhibition.

Rose & Blue Exhibition

The theme

Pink and blue are conventional colours used in Western culture to differentiate and identified the gender of young babies. Using the colours pink and blue nine women artists were invited to create three dimensional work which explore with humour and imagination issues of cultural stereotypes and gender identity. The exhibition also includes earlier work made by the artists which also suit the theme.

The artists are : Amanda Benson, Lubna Chowdhary, Françoise Dupré, Echolalia, Ruth Fownes-Walpole, Leila Galloway, Emma Hathaway, Margaret Proudfoot, Angela Wright.

Aims and objectives

The exhibition aims to introduce contemporary art to Fetal Medicine Unit patients, visitors and staff who are not necessarily familiar with and informed about the visual art. It is hoped that the theme of the exhibition and the diversity of the artistic practices displayed will help patients to manage their fear about the life of their unborn baby and raise their interest in the visual arts.

The artists were chosen because in their work they address questions of fertility, sexuality and have explored the theme of childhood, domesticity and identity. The artists were also chosen because of the diversity of their practice and their distinct and original ways of making objects, using a wide range of material and processes such as tin (Amanda Benson), plaster (Lubna Chowdhary), domestic objects (Françoise Dupré), roses (Echolalia), life casting (Margaret Proudfoot), photography (Ruth Fownes Walpole), wool (Leila Galloway), text (Emma Hathaway), clay (Angela Wright).

Artists’ brief

The Rose & Blue exhibition is also about developing a working partnership between the artists and the Fetal Medicine Unit. Artists were asked to make new work in response to the theme and the specificity of the Unit. Artists visited and observed the life of Unit to get a sense of the place. A meeting between the artists, curator and the director of the Unit took place where artists’ proposal and placement of work were discussed. Dr Yves Ville provided further information about the Unit and the tests and treatments received by patients. Taking into account the activities that take place in the rooms the artists were made aware that their work should not disturbed patients unnecessary. The artists had 3 months to make the work.

Artists’s work are displayed in the Unit public areas and in the consultation rooms

Interpretation and Education opportunities

Various interpretative activities were planned however we did not managed to secure funding for these events. A 4 page A4 guide has been produced for visitors to take away. A A4 wall panel introducing the exhibition was also produced

Partnership

The Fetal Medicine Unit
Staff have been consulted and shown enthusiasm and support toward the exhibition. They have monitored visitors’ response and kept an eye on the work. The staff have contributing to the debate on the nature of the kind of work that one can display at the Unit. Their feed back will be specially important when the Unit considers and plans its next exhibition. The Unit provides some administrative support.

London Borough of Wandsworth
We received a Small Art Grant from the Wandsworth Arts Council to meet some of the cost of display for the guide.

Return to Rose & Blue