Conversations in Silence
A remote artist collaboration around two narratives of care through redacted text pieces.

Conversations in Silence: “Cut, Power, Risk” & ”Normal, Possibilities, Potential”
Appropriated text, drawing, photography, digital print
(580 x 280 mm) & (580 x 280 mm)
Sally Butcher & Nikki Davidson-Bowman: Re.conceive Project

A woman with infertility often remains invisible in public, yet she is continuously seen in her private sphere by a range of advisory experts. Her experience is shrouded in silences and yet it is dominated by loud institutional language that keeps telling her things. This work explores some of the unspoken narratives of infertility; words that are written and read behind closed doors. They foreground the thinking and feeling female body, exploring the permeability of its interior to the outside; domestic spaces where this body becomes disciplined, medicalised spaces where she is fragmented and vulnerable.

This collaborative piece is the outcome of careful and caring conversations between two artists who provided this hidden information from their personal and found archives, entrusted to the other to expose in new ways. Ninety years apart, the texts read insightfully around the commodification and mechanisation of the female body by (male) science in the name of reproduction. The redacted texts highlight the instructional language aimed at assisting these women, and the pain and strength felt in the gaps between. Words left blank, spaces emptied, meanings re-told, and feelings now infilled by the reader.

A collaboration between Sally Butcher and Nikki Davidson-Bowman as part of the re.conceive project. Nikki is a multi-media artist working broadly in the areas of sculpture, installation, collage and stitch. She works with found ephemera, words & natural things, to highlight female stories of resilience. Sally is an artist, lecturer and researcher whose practice engages with female subjectivity and embodiment across spheres of the domestic, maternal and erotic, through drawing, printmaking and photography. re.conceive is a research practice project led by Sally Butcher (2021-22), supported by Arts Council England, to investigate the invisibility of Infertility within the maternal visual arts.