20 Babies

On 23 March 2020, the UK Government implemented a nationwide lockdown in England, to help slow the spread of Covid-19. Schools, leisure facilities and non-essential shops were closed. People were advised to work from home and avoid all contact with those outside of their household.

For mothers who gave birth during this time, many had to attend hospital appointments alone, had reduced contact with health professionals, were unable to attend antenatal classes and baby groups and were prevented from having emotional and practical support from their friends and family. It is from this experience that Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead developed the 20 Babies project.

Every Wednesday between September 2021 and August 2022, 20 babies born during the first national lockdown were welcomed, along with their caregivers, to the gallery. Through regular artist-led workshops and opportunities to socialise informally, a space was created where families could stop, reflect and create together, building social connections with others who had shared a similar experience.

Whilst experiences of the pandemic were diverse and unequal, 20 Babies highlighted the importance of kinship; of kindness and care, of connection and routine, as the threads that unite everyone.

The 20 Babies project has been made possible thanks to Mayborn Group and Newcastle University.

We would like to thank all of the parents who took part in the project: Adam, Amanda, Caitlin, Carmen, Catherine, Emma, Grace, Jessie, Jose, Kag, Kate E, Kate L, Laura, Maria, Matthew, Melanie, Natalie, Natasha, Nina, Rachael, Rachel, Ryan, Sam and Samantha.

And the artists who have brought their own experiences and creative ideas to the project: Josie Brookes, Company of Others, Alex Hughes, Helen Pailing and Megan Randall.

Thank you also to our 20 Babies: Amelia, Ash, Brody, Daisy, Danai, Eleanor H, Eleanor T, Elliot, Emilia, Florence, Isla, Issac, JJ, Kaungambu, Leo, Maisie, Maria, Nakai, Oliver and Scott.

As well as Kit and Mollie, whose births inspired this project.

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