Exhibition lifts the lid on infant loss

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

Artist Marie Brett, RTE's Cathy Halloran and city arts officer Sheila Deegan with Mayor Michael Sheehan at the Amulet exhibition exploring infant loss at University Maternity Hospital Limerick
AN exhibition currently touring the country lifts the lid on the issue of infant loss.

AN exhibition currently touring the country lifts the lid on the issue of infant loss.

Around 340 people visited the Amulet - the work of Cork visual artist Marie Brett - over two days at University Hospital Limerick, including bereaved parents who had lost a child in pregnancy or during or shortly after childbirth.

The exhibition, which was launched in Limerick by RTE journalist Cathy Halloran, coincided with a discussion on the issues raised by Ms Brett’s work and chaired by city arts officer Sheila Deegan.

Infant death is almost a taboo and Ms Brett’s exhibition is the culmination of five years working with bereaved parents, University Maternity Hospital Limerick and the maternity hospitals in Cork and Waterford.

Those parents worked with Ms Brett to locate an amulet - or special keepsake - they possessed which has significance in relation to the loss of their baby. The artist recorded the stories behind the chosen amulets and these stories, together with visual materials gifted by the parents, formed the basis for a new artwork.

“This exhibition is very necessary,” said Cathy Halloran.

“Very often the death of a baby in pregnancy or early life is a silent grief, unspoken of. This exhibition opens up the opportunity for expression, for dialogue about this difficult area of grief, so often shunned and silent. I wish the exhibition well across the country, and I hope it opens doors into talking and bringing about dialogue about this very important aspect of life.”

Cathy Quinn, consultant midwife in perinatal bereavement, commented: “If someone dies, I can get information online of the removal or the mass, if a baby dies, it may not be like that. We have got to get out there and be of support to bereaved parents; but people are afraid of their own pain. The Amulet is fantastic for that reason. We are better off now, because of this artwork. There is something very special now, out there, and as a result of this work, educating us, we will be, hopefully, better able to care for, and care about, mothers and fathers.’

And a poignant comment from one visitor to the Limerick exhibition read that it was “an excellent insight into our world”.

“Your life changes forever when you bury your child. On the outside you may seem the same - inside you see the world differently. A moving and emotional experience to hear other mothers’ stories, and to be able to relate to them.”

The exhibition is supported by the Arts Council and is touring the country until early next year. More information is available at www.amulets.ie