One Born Every Minute, Channel 4, 9pm, 10th March.
I find myself emerging from maternity leave with both a work hat and a mum hat on at the same time. In the public sphere of TV and online debate around this programme, I’ll be considering the spirituality of birth, with an eye to producing new work later in the year – see the Twitter and Facebook feeds in the adjacent column. Perhaps it’s inevitable that the reflections and ideas I had during pregnancy should gestate and form their own distinctive project (see posts on my scan and Hirst’s Verity), now to be realised as part of a commission from the Birth Rites Collection. From the press release:
Visual artist Sheona Beaumont became a mum for the second time in September 2013, and was filmed at Southmead Hospital, Bristol, for Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute. As part of the Birth Online: Birth Offline project, she will be making new photographic work about her experience, and about the place for a spiritual expression of birth in such a public domain.
Central to the process of making this work will be the response on social media during and after the episode in which she and her husband, a curate in the Church of England, feature on the 10th of March 2014. As an interactive live event, watched by millions, this documented conversation will form an integral part of the lenticular prints she intends to produce.
Beaumont’s perspective of faith brings a deeper reflection to birth and motherhood, which, far from being incompatible with the hospital environment or watching cameras, finds a place for praying the Bible, collective involvement, and even the virtual equivalent of a rite such as ‘The Churching of Women’, once well-known in the Anglican tradition. If ceremonies around birth have largely been lost in our medicalised Western culture today, it is nevertheless true that it remains a profoundly transforming moment for women where the extraordinarily miraculous meets the visceral intensity of bodily labour. To the extent that One Born Every Minute celebrates that moment as part of the story and background of the individuals, producers focussed on the importance of the Christian faith Beaumont shares with her husband, alongside and within the medical and relational approaches of the programme. Editing (One Born Every Minute) remained the full responsibility of Dragonfly Film & TV Productions.
Header image: Dylan, 12 hours old in Southmead Hospital, Bristol. Photograph by Sheona Beaumont.