Islands of Blood and Longing
Tabitha Moses ©, Islands of Blood and Longing, Blood on paper, 2010

The Islands of Blood and Longing were made in the weeks following the loss of a much-wanted pregnancy. Constructing this map was a way to salvage grace and meaning from an incomprehensible occurrence. The stains of lost blood became islands which, in turn, formed a chart to help me find my way. The phases of the moon counted the days while the compass brought order and direction.

My due date was November 11th 2010.


About Tabitha Moses

Among other things – educator, designer, costumier, performer and gardener – I am an artist. My practice is rooted in the meanings and possibilities of materials. I’m interested in the transformation of discarded or overlooked subjects and matter into eloquent objects that speak of the …Read more


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6 Responses to “Islands of Blood and Longing”

  1. Helen Sargeant

    This is such a powerful and emotive piece of work, it captures so beautifully the subject of maternal loss. I really like the way that the space of the image has been organised, the use of blood, the moon and compass as a measurement of time, cycles. The fragility and order of the drawn line in contrast to the fluidity and marks of chance created by the blood stains.

  2. Helen Knowles

    Amazing work – Please note it is now part of the Birth Rites Collection at Salford University

  3. Helen Sargeant

    I agree Helen it is an amazing work, and great that it forms a part of the Birth Rites Collection. I am very much looking forward to hearing Tabitha talking about her work at the Arts and Health Symposium at the University of Salford on the 19th November.

  4. Frances Earnshaw

    I look at this image, and what comes to mind is the tremendous sense of loss which it implies. It brings memories of my own sense of loss, in my experience of giving birth… my child was live, but the way in which she was spirited away to the neo-natal unit, and the consequent loneliness I felt, surrounded by other mothers who had come back to the ward with their newborns, and I had no baby to hold. I look at these patches of blood, and I think of the hours I spent sitting on an orange plasic chair, waiting to be allowed into the unit, longing to hold her, and as I sat, blood pooled on the chair, an my torn, stitched perineum hurt. There was such a sense of loss, post natal depression, I suppose. The loss of ownership of my experience, of the outset of my time with my daughter.

    I was so unssertive. I said yes, instead of no. My daughter’s father had insisted that when she was born, I was not to put her on the breast, but I was to let her “find” the breast herself. I wish now that I could have said no to all of them.

    Perhaps the acts of creativity, making art, are what is left to us in regaining our power.

    We are still mothers. We are still artists.

  5. Helen Sargeant

    It is so sad that the first moments of your babies time in the world were taken from you. That you felt alone and unable to speak out. There is so much to be learnt about how to care for mothers and babies in birth, especially the mental, emotional side of things. So much is at stake. Birth is such an important part of a woman’s experience.
    When my first child was born he was taken straight to an incubator to have his lungs suctioned as there was meconium in my waters. Meconium is a sign of foetal distress and can cause infection in the lungs if not removed.
    It is hard to be assertive when you have given birth, it is such an exhausting time. When I was giving birth, I could not speak or string a sentence together. Its an inner world. I had to bear the birth alone, though guided by others.
    I meant to say to Tabitha, that I thought it was such a generous action to post your artwork the day after the estimated delivery date of your lost baby, thanks so much for sharing this work here.

  6. Tabitha Moses

    Beautiful description of an awful time, Frances – ‘blood pooled on the chair’. I hope you and your daughter went on to share much happier times.


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