What colour represents devastation? What does it sound like? What mark would it make? Drawing on her own, and other people’s personal experiences, visual artist Lorna Watkins used these questions as prompts to visually explore the myriad of possible emotional consequences caused by miscarriages.
Although Lorna had been thinking about creating something visual on this subject for a long time, securing one of our Seed Grants was the impetus she needed to put those thoughts into action. Prior to having twin daughters, Lorna suffered three miscarriages herself, and told us:
One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage. Despite how common place it is, there is very little dialogue on the subject in the media or even amongst fellow women. We are meant to carry on, return to work and everyday life immediately when physically fit. Whereas time and space is often needed for emotional recovery and processing of the loss. Of course, there are others who don’t need the time to process and that’s ok too.
Hence, Lorna knows only too well what the possible emotional consequences might look like, and how other people’s reactions and hospital care can have a huge impact on the experience.
Each and every emotion can be felt and is normal. People never know what to say and ignoring the loss is equally bad. A book was handed out in the hospital to me but it was written by a man and was academic and religious in nature. This did not speak to me and I felt misunderstood. My ambition for this project was to bridge the gap and speak to those who need it in a more contemporary accessible format than what I was offered at the time.
Rather than using her eyes and artistic talents to start visually creating, Lorna began this project by using her senses. Initially this involved repeated stream of consciousness writing about her experiences and using the resulting words to describe how she felt with colour and marks. She also spoke with other women in her community regarding their losses by asking them the exact same questions she asked of herself. What colour is devastation? What does it sound like? What mark would it make? From this research, Lorna distilled everything into a series of emotive images and created a pamphlet complete with text, that’s available for anyone to download by clicking on the image below.
I’ve reinterpreted the word miscarriage. I like to think of it of I missed carrying my babies full term.
Lorna is continuing to explore the sound element of this project and is currently talking to an animator about the possibility of creating a stop motion film layered with colours and sound. When finished, the intention is to share this with miscarriage support groups and on social media. Lorna hopes it will benefit women and their partners who have had miscarriages, along with their families and friends.
About Lorna Watkins
Lorna Watkins lives and works in Sligo, Ireland, having graduated in Textile Design at NCAD, Dublin, after studying at the Grennan Mill Craft School and Edinburgh College of Art. Her practice includes painting, drawing, printmaking, textiles and collaborations with communities and other artists. She is also deeply interested in visually describing anxiety and trauma in the body. For more visit: www.lornawatkins.com