After 6 months attending antenatal class with Gail and Kathleen, I've just had an email from Jim Dornan correcting my spelling - I was spelling it anti natal! As he is the Senior vice president and International officer at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, I feel I will never live it down! My observations of these antenatal classes have been a delight and very interesting too. From a cultural point of view and also a physical point of view. I have developed a particular interest in the moment of crowning - when the baby's head first appears. This 'scene' as I call it, brings different responses in different people when they are asked to think about it. I am presently talking to midwives and obstetricians about their experience of this scene. I am interested that being charged with catching the baby as it comes out gives them a legitimate view of this moment. I will post more after these conversations and meetings!

There are 5 posts in this diary.


Posted by Hermione Wiltshire Posted: Tue 25th Mar, 12:52:34


I am developing a series of photographs with Kathleen Beegan. These photographs show pregnant women who regularly attend her classes in Yoga positions that she includes in her teaching! I am interested in showing that the women are encouraged by Kathleen to take their attention 'inside' their bodies. She emphasizes the use of the breath as a method for doing this. While photographing one woman recently, Kathleen was helping her to coordinate her movements with her breathing, as I strove to photograph her at the end of her out-breath. Hopefully this means that her face and body can show a certain equilibrium in the quality of her skin. What I hope to make are images that articulate this subtle inflection to the viewer.

Another part of the work coming out of the collaboration deals with the image of crowning. Culturally the image of crowning and the image of a woman's face experiencing pleasure are not usually connected together in the same body. In my observation s of Gail's classes, no one wanted to think about or picture the stretching perineum. The images of women's faces in labour exhibiting great pleasure could easily be mistaken for a close up 'still' of a porn film. Some photographs published in Ina may Gaskin's book 'Guide to Childbirth' showed both these things happening in the same body. Her photographs seemed to challenge the powerful cultural blindness that separates sexual pleasure from childbirth.
I have now asked Ina may Gaskin if we can exhibit her photograph in the exhibition in Glasgow!

Images from Kathleen's classes

Posted by Hermione Wiltshire Posted: Thu 13th Dec, 22:33:00

Images from Kathleen's classes

background images

Posted by Hermione Wiltshire Posted: Thu 13th Dec, 22:18:48

These are images which help to show a context for the kind of pictures I'm interested in!


Posted by Hermione Wiltshire Posted: Thu 13th Dec, 22:12:18

I wanted to give you an update of the work I'm producing for the show...
There are 3 different works coming together. The first is a series of photographs of kathleen and some of her pregnant women articulating images of the body used in her classes. I would like these to be B&W and about 50x60cm prints, maybe framed maybe pinned to the wall, not sure.
The 2nd is an installation piece that uses a pair of images similar to the working diptich I showed at Matrix - the open mouth and stretching perineum.
I need to check this will work but I'd like to show it across a fairly narrow space like a corridor to place the viewer right between the two images(metaphorically inside the woman's body).
The 3rd is a sound work, that a member of the audience suggested! An edited composition of women's sound while in labour. I would like the speakers to be as discreet as possible. Let me know what you think.
I am talking to Ina May and others about useing their images for the crowning and open mouth... but still not sure whether I need to take my own... the logistics...

3 meetings week

Posted by Hermione Wiltshire Posted: Mon 17th Sep, 13:27:07

what happened

Today is monday but I'm going to tell you about last week!  Last Tuesday I observed and did one of Kathleen's classes.  I was particularly noticing how much imagery she uses of the body.  We have discussed photographs of parts of the body that visually show some of the ways she uses to guide women inside their bodies.  There are strong shapes and subtle internal movements.  Althoughwe asked the women if they would mind me bringing a camera next week, I imediately hade second thought.  I would rather not photograph in a class.  I have never wanted to intrude in any way into a class since I started the project.  Hopefully we can photograph outside a class.  I have realized it is not so much  documentary quality that I'm after - more to do with the juxtaposition of images - how they inform eachother.

Last  Thursday Gail and I met at her house and discussed images of crowning that she owns but rarely uses.  I found the photographs absolutely fascinating and very moving.  She feels that the images are potentially frightening for a expectant mother to see.  I remembered a wman in Kathleen's class describing the feeling of her childs head being out of her body but the rest still in as surreal. 


Then, on Friday, I met with Jim Dornan who Jaygo worked with.  He was very lively indeed!  We discussed crowning for about an hour and a half!  More specifically, the pereneum!!  From his wide experience he described to me how to recognize if the woman would tear or not.  (Now I know what to look for!)  We dicussed at length about how all this bringing into view of the perineum might help women at that final and most critical point in birth.