Visual artist teams up with medical simulator firm to deliver body of work based on childbirth

November 3, 2023

Art and science have been brought together in a unique project created by Bristol-based medical simulator manufacturer Limbs & Things.

The firm, which was founded by in 1990 by medical illustrator Margot Cooper, has teamed up with visual artist and illustrator Ellie Shipman on RE:COLLECTION, a show work created from Limbs & Things birthing simulator products designed to train nurses and doctors for procedures such as C-sections.

Visitors to the exhibit at St Anne’s House in Brislington will have the opportunity to explore the complexities of birth – from the traumas to the triumphs.

Ellie, pictured, started creating the project while on a six-week residency at Limbs & Things’ factory in St Philips, which came about after spotting the factory on her way home one day and seeing through the window different body parts being made from silicone.

She says: “Through this residency I began to explore the tensions between the domestic and medical birth experiences. I am very interested in this space between – the fine lines between recommendations, expectations and advice around birth experiences from all shades of the spectrum.

“I hope these works speak to this in some form. These sculptural and collage pieces bring together symbols of domesticity and hidden women’s labour with the medical processes and procedures of birth in a medical setting. Hopefully this will prompt conversation on the complexities and dualities within the birth experience.

“My interests with Limbs & Things are aligned on many levels. My fascination in the crossover of arts and science, research and human experience, handmade craft and human-centred design were all part of the ethos of Limbs & Things – a company making medical simulator models for training clinicians.”

Limbs & Things head of product management Nick Gerolemou said: “It’s been wonderful to have Ellie, a locally based artist, work alongside us, and see off-cuts and old products come to life in a brand new way that melds together both creativity and function. We hope people will enjoy exploring the intricate, and at times challenging, topic of birth through Ellie’s artworks.”

RE:COLLECTION – Regathering social practice is a solo show by Ellie Shipman, curated Elita Robertson in partnership with Bricks, at St Anne’s House, St Anne’s Rd, Brislington, Bristol BS4 4AB. The show is open daily 10am–4pm until Sunday 11 November.

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