Ping Qiu and Ina May Gaskin

Installation artist, Ping Qiu, was born in Wuhan, China and now lives and works in Berlin. Helen Knowles sought Ping out after seeing an installation of her giant phallic and womb- like ceramic vessels lit underneath by Bunsen burners, which were scattered across a room as part of ‘Angels and Mechanics’, a group show exploring fertility. In other work, she plays with unusual materials including rubber and wax and creates mechanical installations mixing archetypal forms with  more mundane domestic objects.

Ina May describes herself as a midwife, writer and activist and has become something of a cult figure. Her seminal text, Spiritual Midwifery, published in the 1970s, explains how to help women have the confidence to explore and use their bodies, escaping the fear and self- consciousness that has become a barrier to the childbirth process.

In April 2007 Ping Qiu spent a month with Ina May Gaskin at The Farm in Tennessee. Ping spent many hours talking about Ina May’s experiences as a lay midwife. They discussed her time on the road and setting up and living in The Farm community and working with the neighboring Amish people. Ping witnessed a birth and attended a week-long course for student midwives at The Farm. Ping and Ina May’s practices converge with their contemplation of the innate sensuality of the human form and their openness and playfulness with the female body.