We are delighted to introduce Marjolaine Ryley, the Miscarriage Association’s first Artist in Residence.
Marjolaine is an artist working with photography, creative writing, found objects, archival materials and the moving image. Crucially for us, she is now working on ‘The thin blue line / the deep red sea’ – a project exploring miscarriage and pregnancy loss, funded through Arts Council England and in collaboration with the Miscarriage Association.
“In the project, I will be looking at the ways miscarriage and pregnancy loss have been explored (and ignored) in arts and culture. I will also be creating photographs and creative texts to explore both my own and others experiences of this important subject.”
You can read Marjolaine’s description of her first visit to the M.A. below. You can also visit her blog, where she talks more about the project. Please be aware that there is a range of images there, including from other artists and you may find some of them distressing.
Artist in Residence at the M.A. – My first visit, June 2014
Today was my first visit to the M.A. headquarters in Wakefield as their Artist in Residence.
I felt instantly at home in the offices at 17 Wentworth Terrace, partly as they are a converted house, but mostly due to the incredibly warm welcome from Ruth, Lisa and Ann and because of the significant role the M.A. has played in my own life.
During my journey to start a family, I had five miscarriages and was eventually diagnosed with a condition called Antiphospholipid Syndrome. Throughout this time the M.A. provided both support and valuable information.
Stepping into the M.A. felt so comfortable and familiar. There are cabinets and noticeboards, shelves laden with books and leaflets bursting with information. This is the world of miscarriage, one many of us enter unexpectedly as strangers but grow to know intimately.
It was a Monday and the office was very busy, so I could see first hand how the staff answered calls, offered support and dealt with challenging situations. The M.A. headquarters are modest and it has the feel of a family unit, but the work they do and the impact they are having is wide, arms reaching out in a myriad of directions.
Today was about getting a feel for this special place and I started taking a few pictures: details of things; filing cabinets carefully labeled, piles of books, posters and maps on the walls. Ruth and I also talked at length about some of the challenges inherent in representing pregnancy loss. I’m keen to explore different approaches to this both in my research blog and my own photography, but I am also aware of the sensitive nature of this subject.
I hope my work will take a metaphorical and poetic path aiming to explore feelings and emotions through still-life images and creative writing. I will also be undertaking interviews including visiting my Grandmother in Belgium who suffered recurrent miscarriage and who has been quite an inspiration for me.
I was slightly surprised to find myself taking a few self-portraits today and asking myself (as all artists do in moments of doubt!) “What if I can’t do this?” but as I focused on my reflection in the mirror, camera covering my face, I noticed my Celtic silver ring with the red glass heart, glinting on my finger. I had bought this from a local artist during a holiday in Scotland to commemorate my five miscarriages, a symbol of each pregnancy and what it meant to me. This moment reminded me that however challenging, this subject is really important and worth pursuing.
Thanks to Ruth, Ann and Lisa for today and see you all again soon!