This work was created by the Essex based, Turner prize winning ceramicist and artist Grayson Perry in response to the stories he witnessed during his time making a documentary for Channel 4. The BAFTA nominated Rites of Passage is a four episode series exploring the topics of Death, Marriage, Birth and Coming of Age. Perry travelled the world exploring rituals across different cultures before returning home, to England, to discuss his findings with British families, drawing parallels with seminal moments in their own lives and helping to devise secular rituals to help them make sense of the landmark moments they were experiencing.
Episode three, Birth, followed Essex based couple Abbie and Laura and their sons Caspar and Ezra who, after being born at 26 weeks, were cared for over 100 days by the neonatal care team at Chelmsford’s Broomfield hospital. During his visit to the unit the artist noticed the serene calm of the ward noting the secure environment felt itself ‘like floating around in amniotic fluid.’
He described witnessing the slow motion modern miracle that sees the babies being nurtured into the world by the dedicated team of nurses who help them survive and thrive against all odds. He sees the nurses as the crew of a spaceship, employing modern technology with a sympathetic touch, the twinkling lights of the monitors reminiscent of the light up controls of the flight deck of a spaceship.
‘It feels otherworldly like we are on board a spaceship drifting through inner space on our way to the time when they [the babies] should have come’
Inspired by this cosmic scene and believing there to be a need for the NHS to be ritualised as one of the pillars of modern society, Grayson produced a range of 12 ‘Alien Babies’, each a celebration of the NHS, the technology and, above all, the humanity of the neonatal nurses. The works, each unique and executed in pottery with a metallic gilt glaze, were gifted by the artist to every member of the neonatal team at the Broomfield, as well as to the couples featured in the show.
He states ‘each sculpture represents the spirit of all the little lives bought into the earth by the nursing team’.
It seems only fitting that this sculpture comes to auction to help finance the IVF treatment that will enable Abbie and Laura to continue to grow their family.
For more information about the sale or this lot please contact Amy Scanlon
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