The project will create a unique research platform between Royal College of Art (RCA) and the Birth Rites Collection (BRC) which is hosted by the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care, King’s College London. BRC is the only public art collection in the world that takes birth and the maternal as its subject and it is installed across four buildings on Guy’s campus. The Shared Gaze research project aims to bring the birthing body into view, considering the midwife’s highly skilled and yet often contested knowledge base through the frame of visual art. Viewing Tereze, 2016, Courtesy Birth Rites Collection

In turn, the visual arts can, by foregrounding the role of the visual, view birth through aesthetics and cultural theory bringing wider questions and new knowledge to birth practitioners. This discursive space between the fields of midwifery and visual art is currently under represented in the overarching field of maternal studies. There is a need for a new interdisciplinary platform for researchers and industry specialists (health practitioners, policy makers, artists and curators) to work across sectors to challenge the historical invisibility of the birthing body in both the history of Western Art and also in a conventional medicalised birth setting which can often deny the agency of the productive birthing body. This project will allow a researcher to reflect upon and work with the Birth Rites Collection whilst being based at the RCA and it is envisaged that the contribution would be in the field of arts practice. It would be supervised between the Royal College of Art’s School of Arts and Humanities, the Birth Rites Collection Curator and King’s College London’s Women & Children’s Health department. Alongside Hermione Wiltshire, Senior Tutor in Photography at the RCA, the project will be advised by Helen Knowles BRC’s Curator, Elsa Montgomery, Senior Lecturer, Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care and Jane Sandall, Professor of Social Science and Women’s Health in the Department of Women and Children’s Health in the Faculty of Life Science and Medicine.