Foz Foster: Labour of Love.
Artist celebrates the life of his three unborn children.
Labour of Love is Foz Foster's celebration of the lives of the three children he lost through miscarriage. The powerful imagery is extensive and includes a massive 75 foot scroll painting, 'Pain will not have the last word' along with inflatable sculptures that also reflect miscarriage. This work was originally exhibited at The Camden Image Gallery in 2015
'I want to challenge the perception that miscarriage happens only to women'
The miscarriage work initially began to emerge around 2010 and was exhibited in New York, at the Metropolitan Community Church, Jackson Hall art Gallery, in my large solo show 'Resurrections' in 2011 with one piece of work called 'Miscarriages of Justice'.
This led onto me developing a 3D ideas sketchbook, exploring inflatable/human hair combinations, that were repellent symbols of joy, that reflected the conflict between the joy and repulsion of pregnancy and miscarriage. Cheap and shiny, plastic inflatables commonly seen at beaches and swimming pools on family holidays sit uncomfortably with human hair. Whether head, arm pit or pubic, hair is associated with humans. For me hair is an attraction, a point of lust in which pregnancy may occur.
This then led to working on my 76ft scroll that took 2 years to complete and was 1st shown in London at the Camden Image gallery, 'labour of Love' exhibition in 2015.
I began painting the scroll with no masterplan but thought where do I start..I had so many thoughts but was blank..so I began with writing I knew instantly that I had begun something major but felt no pressure to produce. It was both a joyful and painful process.
"I never set out to make an epic work, it was simply a point of liberation, unusual format, fragile paper, and stupidity of the scale gave me a space to play with my 3 children.
Initially it explores the birth of the protagonists and the dark veneer of the perfect world. It then progresses to a joyous narrative that includes looking for Easter eggs, going to the fair, playing hide & seek, playground fun, cowboys & Indians, receiving presents at Christmas, and sledging in the snow to going on holiday.
This work is not sentimental or depressing but has an authenticity, integrity and a tenderness that breaks down the perception of who experiences miscarriage. What started out quite innocently one afternoon became a major piece of work that took 2 years to complete, ended up approximately 76ft x 3ft" scroll painting, 'Pain will not have the last word'. This work reflects that I am a father of 2 wonderful healthy kids. I could not create the work without the experience of being a dad. The scroll narrative and related work reflects the trials, joy and complexities that I discovered while helping to bring up my 2 kids. It is these experiences that is the light to my miscarriages shadow. My experiences helped me celebrate this double-edged sword.
From this, came the collaboration with a former Cambridge School Of Visual & Performance Arts student Megan Beattie who made a documentary film called 'Love dad x' about the work, that was launched at the Free Space Gallery in London in 2016.
Through this, I then met Jessica Hepburn who had seen the Love Dad exhibition via another meeting at the space. She contacted me and explained about 'Fertility Fest', founded in 2016 by fertility patients and arts producers, Gabby Vautier and her. Fertility Fest is the world's first arts festival dedicated to fertility, infertility, the science of making babies and modern families. I became part of the festival in 2018 at the Bush Theatre (lectured and exhibited work) that then led onto being one of four artists to be involved in the world's largest Fertility event called ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) in Barcelona 2018, where I gave a talk and exhibited the full scroll on a bespoke purpose built wall. I also delivered a talk about the work at the Barbican in 2019.
Foz Foster is an award-winning artist, father of two and Senior Lecturer, B.A (hons) Graphics & Illustration, Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts.
Links and further Info.
The original exhibition was held in collaboration with UK charity the Miscarriage Association, as part of its Partners Too campaign ( http://www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk/support/feelings-after-pregnancy-loss/support-for-partners/ ) and Cass Arts and Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts.
Radio 5 Live Interview
Articles/interviews were also included in Varoom magazine, Camden Journal, Cass Arts online, Amelia's Magazine online, Huffington Post online, art & aesthetics online and The Guardian.