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Lauren McLaughlin in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery & Palliative Care

Lauren McLaughlin is resident in the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care working with Helen Knowles, curator of the Birth Rites Collection and Dr Elsa Montgomery, Head of the Department of Midwifery, on a project exploring representations of the birthing body through neon. 


Lauren McLaughlin is the recipient of the 2018 Birth Rites Award and is currently a King's Artist in the  Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care creating a new body of neon artworks exploring representations of the birthing body. The residency is also supported by funding from Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund, The Eaton Fund and The Hope Scott Trust.


Lauren McLaughlin, A Conflict of Interests, 2016, now part of the Birth Rites Collection.

During the residency, Lauren will join workshops led by Helen Knowles, curator of the  Birth Rites Collection, and Hermione Wiltshire, artist and Senior Lecturer in Photography at the Royal College of Art, as well as explore the Birth Rites collection and the Department of Midwifery gathering research, speaking with staff and students and developing a series of drawings.

Her work spans various mediums however she is best known for her collages and neon installations. Having previously worked with neon to explore her own experience of maternal identity in  A Conflict of Interests (2016) and the hostility toward ‘women’s work’ in Untitled (Folded Laundry) (2017), Lauren is interested in utilising the unique properties of neon to explore representations of the birthing body.

Lauren’s research will focus on the ways in which the birthing body is portrayed within midwifery education through clinical illustrations. She will research both historical and contemporary midwifery illustrations and develop a series of drawings and texts to be produced in neon in 2019.

 Laura-McLaughlin-Mother2Lauren McLaughlin, A Conflict of Interests, 2016, Birth Rites Collection.

Historically, neon has been associated with the advertisement of the female body as sex object. By using the medium to illustrate images of birth, the project aims to provoke a dialogue around the reasons why images of the sexualised body are more socially accesptable than those of the birthing body. Drawing upon conceptual themes within the historic 'Madonna/whore' dichotomy and the depictions of the female body as either 'sexual' or 'maternal', Lauren aims to blur the boundaries between these states and create work which explores issues surrounding female labour, patriarchal intervention, reproductive rights and social attitudes towards childbirth.

Speaking about the residency, Lauren said 'I am incredibly honoured and excited to begin this project and make the most of the resources available to me within the Department of Midwifery and the Birth Rites Collection. Having explored my own personal experiences of maternity in my work, this residency period will allow me to take my practice in a new direction and explore new grounds; that of the wider social implications of maternity and the birthing body. I can’t wait to get started and see where the work leads.'

About the artist

Lauren McLaughlin graduated with BA (Hons) Fine Art in 2012 from Central Saint Martins London and now lives and works in her home town of Edinburgh.

Her practice explores a variety of media including collage, text, installation and photography, investigating issues surrounding gendered identities, motherhood, power, money, control and vulnerability. Her process is often autobiographical, exploring feelings and experiences of being a woman, a single mother and an artist. 

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