Improving Me – NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Women’s Health and Maternity Programme- is delighted to announce the launch of the permanent Holding Time exhibition led and developed by visual artist Lisa Creagh for the NHS. This seminal exhibition was co-created with local mothers from Cheshire and Merseyside and records their breastfeeding journeys. Having successfully toured a number of art galleries it now finds a permanent home at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LUHFT).
This art piece creates a contemporary portrait of breastfeeding today in all its diversity. Funded by Improving Me, the Holding Time project aims to address the many preconceptions people hold, challenge stereotypes and improve breastfeeding rates in the region by harnessing women’s breastfeeding stories and promoting more widespread discussion on several fronts.
The launch of the exhibition will simultaneously:
- harness an arts for wellbeing agenda
- coincide with national Baby Week 13-17 November 2023
- provide archival content of real women’s lives to be recorded as part of the NHS 75
- represent one of the many planned responses by Improving Me to the first ever women’s health enquiry where over 84% of respondents said they didn’t feel women had a voice in healthcare
- create a platform for discussion in relation to the findings of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Infant Feeding and Inequality which has highlighted how the cost of living crisis has impacted on family budgets and the care of very young children.
Catherine McClennan, Director of Improving Me, NHS Cheshire and Merseyside women’s health and maternity programme said:
‘We are absolutely delighted that LUHFT has welcomed this important exhibition and has chosen to celebrate this work as part of the NHS75 and in so doing mark the first ever NHS women’s health strategy. Breastfeeding is all too often relegated to the sideline, treated as peripheral to health and wellbeing when the opposite is true. Breastfeeding saves lives and protects the health of babies and mothers both in the short and long-term. Breastfeeding protects children from a vast range of illnesses, including infection, diabetes, asthma, heart disease and obesity. It also reduces the risk of cot death (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). And it protects mothers from postpartum depression, breast and ovarian cancers and from heart disease. But also crucially to quote James P Grant a former UNICEF Executive Director in these difficult times with a cost of living crisis, ‘breastfeeding provides a natural “safety net” against the worst effects of poverty.’ And, ‘exclusive breastfeeding goes a long way toward cancelling out the health difference between being born into poverty and being born into affluence.’
Mothers were invited to share their experiences in video interviews, participate in writing workshops and a photo shoot. Across audio, video, animation and stills, local mothers discuss breastfeeding in all its complexity, answering many questions about why many women who want to breastfeed, stop before they are ready.
The exhibition at LUHFT will be accompanied by audio interviews available for download on the project Youtube channel. It will sit alongside a unique breastfeeding audio trail developed across the Liverpool town centre to engage everyone in important breastfeeding conversations whilst getting fit.
The exhibition will start at The Royal Liverpool Hospital, followed by Aintree and Broadgreen hospitals and coincides with the launch of the trust’s new breast-feeding policy, which includes the provision of onsite breastfeeding facilities at each site.
Heather Barnett, Executive Director of People at the Trust said:
“As a Trust, we’re proud to be a part of The Holding Time Project and are delighted that its exhibition coincides with the introduction of our brand-new breastfeeding policy, which is designed to ensure that all the colleagues we work with understand their role and responsibilities in supporting expectant and new mothers, whether they are staff, visitors or patients. Our breastfeeding policy forms part of our wider Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategic plan, outlining our commitment to addressing inequalities for our patients, the communities we serve and the staff that work here. Ensuring we support our employees to breastfeed their babies, by having suitable breastfeeding facilities across all three of our hospital sites, plays a huge part in this.”
The Holding Time Project Cheshire & Merseyside includes:
- A series of portraits of participating mothers breastfeeding children of various ages
- An immersive, multi-screen animated installation, presenting a ‘chorus’ of breastfeeding mothers shown at Open Eye Gallery in 2022
- Video interviews with mothers, Infant Feeding Teams and academics from The University of Liverpool
- An audio tour of podcasts.
Lisa Creagh says,
“Breastfeeding isn’t just invisible in culture, on TV, in the media, it’s invisible in our lives, our photo streams, our messages. It’s a maternal experience that is widely misunderstood, ignored and sidelined, despite occupying many countless hours, of the mothers who practice it.
These women are at the heart of the Holding Time project. Their voices and the validity of their experience is the central structure of the project. Their ideas about what needs to change, what should happen and doesn’t, how things could be different and better are the driving force behind the project.”
Paula O’Malley, Healing Arts manager commented:
‘It’s great that Hospital Arts in Liverpool (HARTS) can support and reinforce Trust policy initiatives through using Art and this is a great example of that’.
The project includes:
A Youtube channel featuring interviews with participating mothers will showcase the breastfeeding experiences of mothers in the city. For World Breastfeeding week 1-7 August we released one new video per day. For a summary of each release, please see notes to Editors below.
- Friday November 17th at 1.30pm
Maternity Wellbeing Fair: Local partners in health and wellbeing featuring baby massage, performances by participating mothers and much more
- Exhibition Tour
The collection of breastfeeding portraits will tour Liverpool University Hospitals Foundation Trust, November 2023 – Feb 2026 https://www.liverpoolft.nhs.uk/
- Audio Trail
Interviews from the project will be available at listening spaces across the city from September to February. As a walking tour of the city, families are encouraged to discover the voices of local mothers and listen to their stories at sites across the city including local libraries, Liverpool museums, health and shopping centres. Register for more details here.
PRESS and PRIVATE RECEPTION: Friday November 17th 1.30pm
The Royal Liverpool University Hospital
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10-5pm
For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Social media tags: #normalisebreastfeeding #holdingtime
THE HOLDING TIME PROJECT C&M
- A multi-screen installation featuring animated portraits of a ‘chorus’ of breastfeeding mothers accompanied by music by composer Helen Anahita Wilson. The viewer is invited to sit and watch the mothers as gestures and features are slowed to ‘maternal time’.
- A series of large format portraits will tour local hospitals
- Interviews with mothers, health professionals and researchers
- Writing and spoken word by local breastfeeding mothers
- Performances and live events
- An audio tour of podcasts from the series, to follow around Liverpool, St Helens and Birkenhead
Improving Me -Women’s health and Maternity (WHaM)programme -NHS Cheshire and Merseyside Health Care Partnership
Improving Me is a partnership of 27 NHS organisations across Cheshire and Merseyside aiming to improve women’s health and maternity experiences. The associated Women’s Health and Maternity (WHaM) programme is focused on developing a safe, high quality, clinically and financially sustainable whole system model of care for women’s services across Cheshire and Merseyside. WHaM has commissioned the Write On programme in response to feedback from service users and a national evidence base on the value of wiring interventions to boost wellbeing
Mothers were recruited via Improving Me and grassroots networks, along with an open call on social media. Once established that they were within the Cheshire and Merseyside area, mothers were invited to participate in a number of activities:
- Video Interviews with Lead Artist, Lisa Creagh. Editing by Natalie Argent.
- Storytelling workshops run by Rachel New of Creative Lives which were performed at a live launch during Babyweek, November 2021.
- A portrait session at Cetra Studios in Birkenhead.
- Animated by Serena Mangalini.
PRESS and PRIVATE RECEPTION: Weds. 14th September 2pm
Get in touch
Contact Lisa Creagh
Mobile : 07816577140 Email: email@example.com
Social media tags: #normalisebreastfeeding #holdingtime #WBW2022
15th September – 29th October
19 MANN ISLAND
LIVERPOOL L3 1BP
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10-5pm