The online artwork is based on the Each Egg a World painting made by Adinda van ’t Klooster in 2017. It contains 44,061 dots that together create patterns of human female egg cells inside a larger egg shape. Each dot represents a stillbirth and all that that entails. In the online version of the artwork it is possible to select one of the dots and name it after a stillborn baby; this can be done by either the mother or the father of the baby or by both parents together. The participant(s) can then write a brief (up to 250 word) anonymous description of their experience of stillbirth and related emotions. A named dot will turn red and once the statement has been reviewed it will be readable online when hovering over the named dot. Anybody, including people who have not directly experienced stillbirth, can view the statements and give feedback on the artwork. It is hoped that the artwork will help to break the taboo on stillbirth and make people feel slightly better equipped with understanding when they come across a stillbirth in their own communities.
The definition of a stillbirth differs in different countries. The World Health Organisation recommends for international comparison that the definition is: a baby born with no signs of life at or after 28 weeks' gestation. However, the UK uses a cut off point of 24 weeks and in the United States the term stillbirth is used for the loss of a baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Stillbirth can be further classified as early (20-27 weeks), late (28-36 weeks) or term stillbirth (37 or more weeks of pregnancy). In this artwork, stillborn babies can be entered from 20 weeks of pregnancy.
In the online artwork there is a search function which allows the viewer to type in a word that they think might be one that will be repeatedly used (for example anger or sadness or love), and when they click the search icon all the dots where statements used this word will highlight. Once the artwork is more densely populated this will be a quick way to explore the range of emotions raised by a stillbirth.
This artwork hopes to create an inclusive picture of the impact that a stillbirth can have on people’s lives. It is common complaint of people who have experienced a stillbirth that the magnitude of their loss is ill understood by their wider community and that although they would like to talk about it, they feel pressure to stay quiet because it is such a difficult topic.
It will also be possible to visit the artwork in three physical venues in London, Manchester and Newcastle upon Tyne, see here.
An evaluation survey will go live in the fall, it will be used to evaluate if the artwork has helped to reduce some of the stigma experienced by those who suffered a stillbirth.
If you know anyone who has experienced a stillbirth please invite them to participate in the artwork, which is online at https://stillbornproject.org.uk/eacheggaworld/
If you would like to help us promote the Each Egg a World online artwork please download an information pack with a sample article and further information here.
A sample of responses gathered so far to the artwork –
It is nice to feel part of a group and understand that we are not alone in this very bumpy journey.
Fellow sufferers understand you better than anyone ever.
I think it will help a great deal. In a sense of comfort talking with others who have gone through what you have, that can relate and feel an unbearable pain no parent should have to feel.
It's a platform for expressing emotions which other people around us cannot understand.
I’ve found speaking to others in similar situations helpful.
It's not often you get to talk about your baby, and any platform to do so is helpful to processing your loss be it recent or past.
It is sad to see so many dots, but being part of the babyloss community, we all feel, and understand, the need to keep our babies memories alive.
My mother has remembered her first baby for 60 years but not publicly. Stillbirth was taboo for many of these years.
I am always speaking out regarding the taboo.
I think people don’t understand stillbirth until they are in the situation. There I don’t think anything will alter the view on it. Sometimes it feels like a very lonely world and seeing this artwork with statements makes you realise you are not alone and it starts bringing people together.
Anything, anything that can show people how often this tragically happens, has to help. The number of dots should be a stark informative of lives lost, no parents should have to hold a funeral for their child.
Its let's people see that they are not alone, and that there are other people out there going through the same things.
Bringing people together and reading other people's statements makes you realise you are not alone. People do not realise the continuous pain you suffer after a loss. Nobody talks about it but all you want to do is talk about your baby and to have your pain and baby acknowledged.
As a bereaved mum, I need to talk, I need to express my emotions, I have lost a child, and the excuse of friends even family members of "I didn't ask you because I don't want to hurt you" hurt me. If you don't take care of me and my child who has gone, she was here, she has existed,... let me talk about my short memories with her.
I think it's a beautiful way to break the taboo, to get people talking, to bring people together.
I have been blown away by the community and support I have discovered since losing Giorgia, but I feel there is still a way to go in raising awareness of stillbirth. Artwork like this can continue to help foster the community and keep the conversation going. If each person who names a dot shares the artwork that would make a significant statement.
I feel the medical professionals feel that stillbirth is a failure and they themselves don't know how to cope with it.
I think every attempt and every idea to break the taboo on stillbirth is much needed and necessary. A range of ideas and methods is needed to reach a range of people. Being able to remember and say my daughter’s name wherever I can is important to me, so marking a dot for her means a lot. It’s another way to continue to parent her even though she is gone. Thank you.
People generally think that talking about stillbirth upsets the parents but actually, it is the opposite. By seeing that we need the acknowledgement of our loss may help break this belief.
I’m not sure that an artwork will break the taboo - so my answer isn’t a black and white no - the sense of community and the conversations that this community will create I know are powerful tools - what may come out of feeling acceptance, non-isolation, a sense of true community and understanding, is what will hopefully give the right people comfort and confidence - and it’s these people we need to break the taboo!
I was surprised at how common stillbirth is and reflected that it isn’t seen or spoken about as part of many people’s lives. It made me think about health inequalities and how women’s health is more broadly still taboo.
My first understanding of baby loss was when I was a child and my mum cried. She was 39 weeks pregnant and was told her babies heart had stopped beating. I remember sobbing for her, for her baby and for the big brother who would never never meet his younger sibling. Again, when I was in my 20s a colleague went on maternity leave, but without a baby to cradle in her arms and again I sobbed for her. Neither time did I speak to the women about this loss, I only projected my feelings onto them. Flash forward to my first pregnancy loss (at 14 weeks) and I felt a pain I didn’t know it was possible to live through…suddenly I had an idea and I remembered those women and I remembered weeping for them, and I knew my pain was not the same. This artwork is beautiful and perfect and important. Parents left with a gaping space in their arms and hearts deserves place to express that. Well done.
Today, 10 years after the stillbirth of my dear niece, I am reminded of the importance of breaking the taboo on this subject. I experience much love for her, even though I never got to see her alive in this life. I hope someday all people experiencing stillbirth will be able to share this great grief freely, and that they feel understood and supported. Thank you, dear sister, for speaking up!
I once worked closely with three young women who were all expecting their first child at roughly the same time. Two gave birth to a healthy baby, a son and daughter respectively. The third suffered a stillbirth. It was very difficult to know what to say in the circumstances - the joy of two women and the devastation of the third. She left the company, moved away and eventually had a healthy child. Life moved on. The need to say anything seemed to have been overtaken by events. I think through this artwork and the testimonies of others I now understand what she was going through and have a better idea of what I could have/should have said.
Stillbirth is still taboo. A lonely place to be because our community turns away and people don't want to talk about the fact that babies sometimes die.
So many people going through the same heartache.
It was very moving and made me realise the importance of breaking the taboo in order that people can share their experiences. I hope that Each Egg a World raises awareness and helps to bring support to those that have experienced this terrible loss.
It's beautiful to read how much love people feel for their babies but so sad they had to lose them. It's also made me aware of how important it is to let people talk about their baby and to actively ask questions about them rather than ignore the issue.
This is painful to get an insight to but important for everyone to understand. Thank you to everyone that shared their stories.
The artist should be proud to have provided a forum for such powerful human experiences, which still functions aesthetically. It will be intriguing to see the transformation in the work as statements accrue, with more and more detail at greater zoom levels. The art object here has true potential social impact.
The human spirit in the face of such great pain and loss is in powerful evidence throughout the contributed statements. No matter the distance in time, the memory cannot be escaped, and the artwork can only help a wider understanding of the grief and love of bereaved parents in a society which still suffers over and over again.
Tenemos que dar visibilidad. - We have to give visibility.