PhD Showcase


Suzy Roan

Suzy Roan — School of Fine Art

Counter-narratives of childbirth in the UK: developing visual languages of embodied birth through expanded drawing practice.

Cultural imagery around birth in the UK remains dominated by master narratives in which birth is languaged by a Cartesian medicalised framework and told from ‘the outside’. As such, embodied experiences of birth and the consciousness of the birthing woman remain unseen, missing, hidden or lost. Could a visual lexicon of birth be developed that is outside the boundaries of dominant Western ideas of the body? How can expanded drawing and socially-engaged practices help to articulate and visualise embodied knowledge of birth? Drawing together the disciplines of fine art and midwifery, this practice-led PhD will use collaborative oral history methods to explore contemporary British home birth narratives. What language do those who have experiences of home birth turn to as a way of giving expression to embodied experiences of birth-giving, potentially beyond rational consciousness? Informed by first-hand interviews and contextualised through contemporary feminist theory and archival research, the project will explore visual, spatial and sonic representations of home birth experiences in the UK.

Suzy Roan is a PhD researcher in the School of Fine Art. Working predominantly in drawing, audio and book works, her interests lie in expanded drawing practice, oral histories, medical anthropology, birth politics, and feminism. Suzy is an RCA and GSA graduate, and a lecturer in Communication Design at GSA

Content Warning: Contains images of childbirth, not suitable for under 18s