Maternity and Art

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

The ANU Gender Institute and Maternal Health Matters Inc. invite you to join us online for the third in our seminar series that will explore the impact of maternity on women’s wellbeing and the transition to parenting.

The health and wellbeing of mothers is critically connected to the best outcomes for infants and children and provides the basis for a healthy society.

Australia faces a challenge in achieving high quality maternity care in a safe, respectful environment so that women and birthing people emerge healthy and well. Perinatal wellbeing is a complex concept that is more than the absence of illness. Furthermore, an extensive eight nation study commissioned by the European Union concluded that the transition to parenthood was “a critical tipping point on the road to gender equality” (2006, p.11). This finding is of significance for women in Australia, underlining the need for improved, 21st century maternal & child health services & support for young families.

Themes presenters will speak to

In this early 21st century there is most often a significant gap between the expectations and the experience of new mothers. Expectant and new mothers nevertheless bring with them skills and talents in a range of areas including through the Arts and therefore, women often reflect on their experience and representations of the maternal through Art. In this session the presenters will guide us through examples of these works, in light of the principles and ambitions of Maternal Health Matters.
There is a need to provide maternity services that honour the childbearing woman's human right to respect, autonomy, dignity and the attainment of the highest level of health; a maternity care system that does no harm. There is a need to minimize the disadvantage from the transition to mothering which has been identified of significant concern for women in Australia. Future health services are likely to have reduced financial budgets and thus there is an increasing need to deliver high value care.


Emeritus Professor Denise Ferris’ photographs are in Australian public collections including the National Gallery, National Library of Australia, the ACT Legislative Assembly Art Collection and Canberra Museum and Gallery, as well as international collections, the District Six Museum, Cape Town; Haldenstein, Switzerland and Nara City, Japan. Denise is an advocate for education inclusive of culture, one which recognises art and design as offering invaluable understanding crucial to social action.
Dr Bianca Williams combines community sector and academic experience to address social justice issues. Bianca has over a decade’s experience working with mothers, children and families in the community sector. She has a diploma in art therapy. Bianca has experience with project management and contributed to a number of maternal-themed community arts projects. Her PhD explored birthing parent’s experience of pregnancy as mediated through art. Bianca is currently the Senior Policy Officer at Families Australia, where she provides advice to the governments and the community sector on national policy issues related to gender and families. A former lecturer and course convenor in Gender Studies, Bianca is currently a Visiting Fellow at ANU.

Date and Times