Jelbert 13/09/12 – Master’s: Pregnancy in 20th century Art

Old paintings

I painted these pictures after the birth of my first child and they’re both about the emergence of a new personality. In the first painting, I was experimenting with overlaying images of the mother and child, with the belly button overlapped at the same point. Before I painted the realistic details, I got my then toddler to walk through gold acrylic and then toddle across my beautiful watercolour paper! The idea was to show a movement from left to right, away from the the mother.

In the second picture, I was trying to show the small child slightly out-of-focus with the hand prints floating between her and the viewer. Hands and fingerprints are associated with identity and the idea was to suggest that the character of this new person was developing and becoming clearer.

I think these were the first paintings in which I started to use overlapping images and this lead on, eventually, to my paintings with children’s drawings, and to the illustrations for my children’s books.

My Master’s: ‘A growing body of work: pregnancy in 20th century Art’

In a few weeks I start my History of Art Master’s degree. I have decided to research the way in which pregnancy was portrayed in 20th century Art and will be looking at this subject from many different angles. Symbolism, changes in society, scans and technological developments, images from art therapy and different cultural practices are just a few ideas and the more I read, the more I realise I have to learn!

When I talk about looking at ‘Art’, I’m going to be looking at paintings, sculpture, art therapy drawings, photography and installation work. I also plan to open it up and look at medical illustrations, x-rays and imaging, pop-up books and even tattoos! If any one reading this would like to help by sending me any images, links to websites or ideas for reading, I would be very grateful – please email me with any ideas:

Rebecca Jelbert:

I am hoping that through this MA, I will feel moved to make more paintings on the theme of birth and identity. In one of my children’s stories, the Mum has a new baby and I have yet to do the illustrations for this particular book – I wait to be inspired!


About jellywalk

I am a professional artist who is happy to take commissions, be they portraits, paintings of baby ultrasound scans, houses, or pets... Please see my art website for contact details: I have prints available for sale from
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