Caroline Walker: Birth Reflections

Caroline Walker: Birth Reflections

Birth Reflections
18 February – 4 March 2022

The Fitzrovia Chapel is proud to present an exhibition of new large-scale paintings by artist Caroline Walker.

They follow her recent residency at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson maternity wing at University College Hospital (UCLH). Caroline Walker is known for painting women at work and often behind the scenes, from hotel maids to her own mother. This new series of paintings sees her capture midwives, doctors, cleaners and mothers, and is inspired by a series of four paintings by Frederick Cayley Robinson ‘The Acts of Mercy’. These large paintings, measuring 200 x 340 cm each, originally hung in the foyer of the Middlesex Hospital, of which The Fitzrovia Chapel is now the only remaining building. After the Middlesex Hospital was closed in 2005 and shortly after demolished, the paintings were acquired by the Wellcome Collection nearby.

Caroline will present three paintings at the exact same size as the Cayley Robinson’s within the chapel: ‘Theatre’, ‘Ultrasound’ and ‘Birthing Pool’. There will also be two smaller paintings: ‘First Nappy Change’ and ‘Newborn Check.’

Caroline Walker explains about the new series: “When I first started speaking to UCLH about a residency there were a number of departments that interested me as potential subject matter. It wasn’t until I found out I was pregnant and began attending appointments at the hospital as an expectant mother that I began to develop a particular interest in the areas I was visiting. Trips to the maternity wing for scans, blood tests, antenatal classes and then the birth itself were both a new experience emotionally for me, but also visually. At some point during this period, I decided that the maternity wing would make the ideal subject for my work, bringing together my personal relationship to this hospital with an ongoing interest in depicting women’s working lives through painting.”

Alongside the exhibition at the Fitzrovia Chapel, UCLH will display ink drawings and oil sketches from Caroline’s time at the hospital in their ground floor exhibition space, visible externally from Euston Road. These will include the oil sketches of the large paintings on view at the chapel. The exhibition at UCLH will run from 18 February – 6 April, and is available to view inside the hospital by appointment.

A catalogue will be published featuring images of all works in both exhibitions, an interview with Caroline Walker and Guy Noble, art curator at UCLH, and an essay by Hannah Watson, Chair of The Fitzrovia Chapel.

A public events programme has been produced around the themes of the exhibition with a focus on pregnancy, birthing experiences and motherhood. The programme has been devised in collaboration with Liat&Co.

Birth Reflections is supported by Stephen Friedman Gallery. Caroline Walker is represented by Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, GRIMM Amsterdam/New York and Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh. Caroline will present her first solo exhibition at the gallery from 29 April to 28 May 2022.