Womb Diaries

A selection of artwork created in response to a hysterectomy and subsequent surgical menopause in 2020.

This work is of a uniquely personal nature. A mother of four, Vanessa has suffered from endometriosis for years, which thankfully didn’t affect her fertility as it does with many women, but caused considerable discomfort. Then she was diagnosed with a large benign tumour, or fibroid, which lead to a hysterectomy. The first Covid-19 lockdown meant this operation was postponed, so by the time it was removed she was over 6-months ‘pregnant’ and as such her relationship with her womb, the carrier of her babies, became a negative one.  

Throughout her subsequent recovery Vanessa stitched a ‘womb diary’, a series of one-line poems to her discarded womb and four embroideries remembering her children as the foetuses who grew there. She faced the question of femininity without the organ that made her a mother, the challenge of surgical menopause under the age of 50, and through time spent in quiet, contemplative stitch, was able to find peace with her loss.

Womb Diary
Womb diary detail
Cuckoo’s lodgings
Damage – front
Damage – back
Vintage handkerchief pocket containing embroideries, remembering of each of my four daughters as the foetus’s who grew inside inside of me
Foetus one
Foetus two
Foetus three
Foetus four
Will I still feel like a woman?
I do not feel ready for this
This will not define me

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