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The fifth segment of Formations, our year-long programme delivered in partnership with Nottingham Trent University’s (NTU) Postcolonial Studies Centre, includes events in May under the thematic banner – Formation: Milk.

In this segment, we consider the representations and meanings of breastfeeding and the breastfeeding body, to consider how this highly emotive topic is encountered in writing and art, and in public spaces. Join us for conversations and workshops about global representations of breastfeeding in art, literature, and research, from personal stories to public encounters with art.

Conversation: Creative, Academic, and Personal Responses to Breastfeeding Research

Thursday 6 May, 7 pm – 8 pm

Breastfeeding is central to the human experience. It is also a highly emotive topic, debated in public and researched from clinical perspectives, yet in art and literature the topic remains under-emphasised, particularly as a symbolic or representational image. This conversation asks whether artists and writers tell different or similar stories about breastfeeding; engage different or similar audiences; and whether their works might have different or similar impacts on individuals, families, communities, scholarly debates, and frameworks. It will engage with breastfeeding in creative, academic, and personal ways through a discussion with writer and academic Dionne Irving Bremyer (University of West Georgia, ‘My Black Breast Friend’, 2017); academic Ann Marie Short (Saint Mary’s College, Illinois, Breastfeeding and Culture, 2018), and visual artist Lynn Lu (Adagio 2013; On Mother’s Milk And Kisses Fed 2013). Anyone is welcome to attend.

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Creative Writing Workshop: Writing the Breastfeeding Body

Monday 17 May, 6.30 pm – 8 pm

Breastfeeding is traditionally associated with the female body and the body of the mother. Breastfeeding provides nourishment and protection. In addition, feminists have explored how the act of breastfeeding stimulates pleasure, pain and desire but little is known of breastfeeding as an act of resistance, both within and beyond biology. We want to hear about your breastfeeding experiences: the joys, struggles and feelings of ambivalence, your family stories, experiences unique to your gender identity, your culture, heritage or personal circumstances. Come and share your stories and hear others’ that might surprise you, about breastfeeding as resistant practice and breastfeeding beyond the conventional. We welcome all stories, across diverse communities, marginalised experiences and across different generations. We hope you can join us.

The workshop will be co-hosted by NTU’s Postcolonial Studies Centre writer-in-residence Eve Makis and Maud Lannen. All levels welcome.

All participants will get the chance of having their work edited and included on a spoken word album bringing their written work to life.

Conversation: Representations of Breastfeeding and the Gallery

Thursday 3 June, 7 – 8pm

In this conversation event, Rebecca Randle, Learning and Engagement Coordinator, and Helen Cobby, Assistant Curator, both from The Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham, talk to Jenni Ramone about gallery text, the labels or other information which accompanies exhibited artwork, and about how galleries use gallery text and other methods to enhance public engagement with art, to support the generating of ideas, and to elicit emotion. The event will include discussion of contemporary and historical works of art which represent breastfeeding. Following the event, participants will be invited to write their own ‘gallery text’ for one of the works of art discussed, and selected texts will be published on Bonington Gallery’s Formations website. Anyone is welcome to attend.

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Film screening and Interview – Su Ansell’s Breast’work (2016)

Friday 25 June, 5.00 pm- 6.30 pm

Lecturer in Media Production at Nottingham Trent University, Su Ansell, made the film Breast’work as a single screen video(wall) installation Moving Image Artist and Senior. This work, made in collaboration with women from the East Midlands, aims to challenge the depiction of the female body in art and media.

In this event, the artist and filmmaker talks to Jenni Ramone about the film, the making process, and the public response to the film’s first installations at galleries and conferences across Europe and the US. Ticketed attendees will also receive a link and password to watch the film which will be available until Monday 28 June.

Click here to watch via our YouTube