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 –
There are so many things people don’t understand about baby loss unless they have been through it themselves and they are worried to ask in fear of upsetting the parents. I think most parents just want to talk about their baby, it recognizes their existence and that is invaluable. Just asking their name can mean the world but most people are too afraid to ask.
By reading other people's experiences and realising the shared themes involved enables a validation of your own feelings and sense of community. However conversly, having a unique dot, and own words expressed, with differences in what we wish to express brings the importance of our individual babies memories.
I do feel artwork can bring together lots of people, wether they’ve experienced loss or not, and encourage them to talk about baby loss. Baby loss does come with this unnecessary taboo that it’s somehow not ok to talk about it. That it’s not ok to bring up the subject or mention people’s baby’s so not to upset them. Personally I found it more upsetting not having my baby mentioned or talked about. I think the artwork can also help people feel less alone, that they’re not shut out of the world because their baby died. It may be comforting to read about people’s experiences, maybe even to find common ground with others. To find comfort, hope, answers, knowledge and understanding.
In a world still so afraid of stillbirth and grieving parents, finding somewhere to talk openly and freely is so crucial for the healing process. As with everything in life, you can only know when you know, and my experience of stillbirth and my own healing process is definitely benefiting from speaking with and listening to parents, particularly mums because I am one, talk about their babies with mums who have lived experience of this unimaginable loss. Giving space and a place to honour my daughter and to be able to have her name known in the world has been crucial for me, I am grateful for discovering Adinda’s artwork.
Feeling someone elsewhere has gone through the same experience and overcame it to a point of sharing brings hope. No one is to blame, no one is to be separated/secluded because of the loss. Those who aren't directly affected should try and understand the bereaved.
I believe that most women feel like they are alone in the loss. The society makes the mom feel like it is her fault but with this art the burden is lighter and you get to really feel that your baby matters.
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.
the isolation of stillbirth was the most difficult aspect. the medical profession admit they are limited in their knowledge of stillbirth and until the world speaks up and demands better the research will remain limited and still birth will continue. this art allow people to connect with the stories of loss and give weight to the impact of still birth. thank you for providing the medium for our voice.
It is very important to be with others, not alone. This project makes visible that we are many people living this pain. Thank you.
I think the lasting effect of stillbirth is never fully understood until it happens to you. Therefore for some it will always be an uncomfortable topic.
It is very difficult to express yourself after such a loss. And hard for someone to try and comfort the parents of such a massive loss. I hope this artwork helps people to see the emotions parents feel after the loss of a child.
Since losing my baby back in March 2020, I felt alone with most people in society. I felt unable to speak Sophia's name without judgement and sorrowful looks. But I began a blog and as months went on more bereaved mothers reached out to me, I no longer felt alone and people who haven't experienced a loss of a child but have read my blogs have also reached out to me because they've said they've learned more from them. I believe this artwork will help society realise that although our hearts are broken, and a piece will always be missing. That missing piece is filled with love for our baby and it's something I will never be ashamed of. This work of art will show the similarities each parent feels, it will help bereaved parents know they're not alone but it'll help society realise that there is more love than sadness, and that love needs to be celebrated for our babies. - Stephanie (Mama to Sophia)
The more we share the better both for the community and raising awareness.
Creo que las familias que comparten su historia en una obra de arte como esta, descubren que no están solos y que existen más familias que están pasando por lo mismo, y eso hace una unión muy fuerte, como una familia mundial de familias en duelo. - I think that families who share their story in a work of art like this, discover that they are not alone and that there are more families that are going through the same thing, and that makes a very strong union, as a worldwide family of bereaved families.
To a point. Nice to be able to add her name, another way to remember she lived and is loved alongside all the other babies
People are scared to talk about something which they have no experience of and something which is beyond comprehension for many. In order to get people talking, then a project such as this will go a long way to opening up a dialogue with people. I love to talk about our angel and we mention his name everyday in our house so that my children know about their brother and so that our families and friends know that they too can mention his name.
Yes, if it is fully filled in from parents all over the world, we will see more clearly our 'club' that we did not wish to join, but from which we can draw strength. Thank you for this ingenious project.
Amazing project really truly amazing!
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 think that stillbirth has to be spoken about in a way we would talk about any other death. I have always experienced people being awkward when told about my daughter and that makes me feel uncomfortable
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.