Birth Undisturbed is a fictional narrative photography series by Natalie Lennard, that brings scenes of natural childbirth into cinematic fine-art tableaux.
Spotlighting women of history from the Virgin Mary to the Queen, the series is partly inspired by the artist’s own experiences of birth. In ‘The Creation of Man’ the Virgin Mary is crowning Christ, a vision that has eluded Nativity artists and may be the first photographic interpretation. ‘Aquadural’ pictures a primitive woman, giving birth in the ocean alone, honouring the history of waterbirth known from 2700BC.
‘Royal Blood’ portrays the last Royal homebirth of Queen Elizabeth II in 1964 to Prince Edward in Buckingham Palace, to convey that the Queen broke several traditions including birthing unobserved. ‘Call to Prayer’ recreates a Pakistani Muslim family birthing in a hospital in modern 1990s Northern England, whilst ‘Born of Calamity’ shows Calamity Jane birthing in mid-19th century in a Wild West town.
‘Ejection Reflex’ conveys a reality that happens universally unnoted, to express the ‘fetal ejection reflex’ – a term coined by Niles Newton in the 60s, where a baby comes without pushing, whilst ‘The Whitechapel Woman’ incarnates a written memory by Dr. Grantly Dick-Read set in 1911 London, visualising his famous encounter with a destitute woman whose rejection of chloroform led to the eventual scientific discovery of hormones.
In ‘Salle Sauvage’, a glass Cube set in a garden becomes a metaphor for Michel Odent’s French term (meaning ‘primitive room’), to depict a woman birthing amongst nature in a museum-like spectacle. ‘Power Pilgrimage’ takes another birthing figurehead, Ina May Gaskin, to show the first birthing woman present on their ‘Caravan’ escapade travelling from California to Tennessee in 1971, which spearheaded their infamous Farm community.
Each piece comes accompanied with a short film to be seen at www.birthundisturbed.com. The artist is now working on her new series Child Undisturbed, the making which can be followed at www.instagram.com/natalielennard
About Natalie Lennard
Natalie Lennard (b. 1986) is a fine-art and commercial photographer whose work has been exhibited in the Saatchi Gallery and Houses of Parliament, featured by the BBC, El Pais and NY Arts, and whose commercial clients include Nikon, HTC and Guo Pei. Twice named Saatchi Art’s One to Watch, her evocative surrealistic fashion pieces have become globally prolific with luxury venues, and spotlighted in Saatchi Art’s ‘Invest in Art’ 2018 and ‘Refuse to be the Muse’ reports on the growing power of women in photography.
‘Birth Undisturbed’ is Lennard’s first major project to focus on a biosocial topic, with documentary video accompaniment, striving to combine the rawness of childbirth into the art world and Western consciousness in an unprecedented way. Depicting births of icons from the Virgin Mary to Calamity Jane and the Queen, partly inspired by the artist’s own experience of motherhood and birth, the series’ timeliness is ever more appropriate in a global maternity crisis by highlighting key figureheads and writers from the realm of essential birth philosophy. To date, Birth Undisturbed has won multiple awards for its images and filmmaking, been featured by major newspapers globally and at key conferences in London, Europe and US.