ESHRE was delighted to welcome Fertility Fest - the world’s firsts arts festival dedicated to fertility, infertility, modern families and the science of making babies.
Founded in 2016 by Jessica Hepburn and Gabby Vautier, professional arts producers and former IVF patients, the festival’s work has already been making an international impact.
Fertility Fest aims to bring together artists with fertility experts to achieve three important aims - to advance fertility education; raise public conversation about all aspects of infertility and reproductive science; and to improve emotional care and support for people struggling to conceive.
At ESHRE Barcelona 2018, Fertility Fest presented the work of four leading artists whose moving and thought-provoking work aims to unlock the patient perspective of infertility and IVF in the hope of working hand in hand with the fertility profession to improve outcomes for everyone whatever their fertility story, however it ends.
Paula Bonet is an artist whose work centres in oil painting, engraving and illustration. She has exhibited in Barcelona, Madrid, Porto, Paris, London, Belgium, Urbino, Berlin, Santiago de Chile, Valencia, Miami and Mexico. She has also published several successful books: Qué hacer cuando en la pantalla aparece The End, 813 Truffaut, La sed, Quema la memoria, Escribe con Rosa Montero, Por el olvido, and soon, Roedores: Cuerpo de embarazada sin embrión.
After suffering her first miscarriage, Paula Bonet got pregnant again with a girl, for whom she wrote and painted Roedores, a book which is both a story and a love letter to a daughter who ultimately could not be born either. It is an intimate journal in which she shares her hopes and her fears in an attempt to understand the trauma and the corporeity of absence. In this she enlightens one of the darkest abysses avoided by so many women, giving voice to the silence, breaking a taboo and normalizing a reality that is so common, and yet so traumatic.
Thomas Webb started making short films in his early teens and his love of film-making continued into his career. He currently works as the Head of Creative at Upbeat, a digital agency that covers video production and web development. In his spare time he still makes short films - his latest Hyper Jump has been screened at the Raindance Film Festival and the London Short Film Festival.
The Easy Bit is Tom’s first feature length documentary. It is inspired by Tom and his wife’s eleven year fertility journey. During this time they decided to write a blog about their experiences. One of the most surprising reactions to the blog was the fact that a lot of readers had never read a male account of IVF. Tom decided that regardless of the outcome of their treatment something positive should be created and the idea of a documentary about the male perspective of fertility treatment formed.
Foz Foster is an award-winning artist and senior lecturer. His work is exhibited extensively - most recently Love Dad and Labour of Love in London and Resurrections in New York.
Foz makes artwork about things that are important to him, often autobiographical. His content liberates, has a point of view and demonstrates a love of making. The imagery always relates to his ‘everyday’, the ordinary being ‘extra ordinary’. Previous content explored includes A.I.D’s & H.I.V, biblical narratives, sexual fetishism and currently emotional battles within the everyday in his project Home Front.
Labour of Love is an extensive body of artwork that celebrates the lives of Foz’s three children lost through miscarriage and aims to challenge the perception that miscarriage happens only to women. Pain will not have the last word is a 76 ft scroll painting that explores the everyday experiences and joys of being a dad. The work is not sentimental or depressing but has an authenticity, integrity and a tenderness that breaks down the perception of who experiences miscarriage. The work acts as a double-edged sword between the joys and despairs of an expectant dad.
Tina Reid Peršin is an artist who uses photography, live art and installation. Her project Photos I’ll Never Take has been exhibited in a group show in Hastings (2011), a solo show at Brighton Photo Fringe (2012), the Photofusion annual salon in London (2012) and the East Sussex Open at the Towner Gallery (2013).
The project explores the concept of the perfect family, particularly focusing on society's reaction to the childless. In the background is the modern feminist ideal of the woman who has it all. This, according to studies, has led to an increasing number of women who have delayed their childbearing too long, whilst following careers, and are now involuntarily childless, many after unsuccessful IVF which is also Tina’s experience. But whilst social conventions have changed and the notion of an ideal family with two heterosexual parents, married with children is becoming increasingly rare, the traditional model is still seen as aspirational, promoted by mass media and politicians.