288 Days is a project where I ‘go public’ to confront the ‘picture-perfect’ clichés and myths of pregnancy. It’s an exploration of the intensely profound time an expectant mother spends in preparing for childbirth through her 9 months of pregnancy. It’s a time of unprecedented physical, emotional and psychological transformation.
This brave installation, curated with humorous honesty, revealed more than just my bump. 288 Days puts my story out into the public realm by looking to confront and negotiate a public gaze and its impact on my own fears and expectations, self-perceptions and responses. It acknowledges the challenges women face in the dichotomy of changing from a ‘woman’ into a ‘mother’. It aims to subvert the stereotypes and projected personae which are placed on pregnant women
Through a collection of others’ quotes, self portraiture and photo-documents this installation acknowledges that beneath that most feminine of all forms – the female bump – there is an acutely fragile complexity at play.
I was astounded that during this, an acutely personal experience, my body suddenly seemed to become public property, open to a whole barrage of judgements. I found that all the clichés, public opinions and unrealistic media representations barely scratched the surface of the reality of my pregnancy experience.
These were 288 days when doubt, confusion, lack of confidence and physical ailments clashed with elation, excitement and wonder at what was to come.
My installation includes individual pieces from self-portraits of me proudly resting my 8 month bump on a sun lounger to diary excerpts of worries and close ups of blood stained tissues.
This exhibition documents the 288 days of twists and turns in a pregnancy. Amidst the midwife records, scans and hospital test results is medical advice captured in pregnancy manuals and torn out magazine articles as well as some very candid, personal shots and diary entries of changes to a body and a psyche.
Find out more about Amelia Shepherd’s projects here.