Ruth Gray (UK, Derbyshire)
When They Told Me – View From The Operating Table (2007)
This piece came about in 2007 from a desire to express the initial numbness of being told I was to have a still birth at nine months pregnant. The discovery by the doctors was horrific. I felt as if they were all looking down at me in disbelief and horror. I felt small and very powerless. They – the doctors and my husband – were all gathered around my bed discussing my options. These included going home for up to another week, waiting for contractions, and have a natural labour.
I could not deal with this and I insisted the baby was removed surgically. They did not want to do this and sent me home. I begged them to ring my own doctor who was away on holiday. This artwork is me looking up at them willing this to happen. The next day I was allowed a caesarean.
A few months later, to block out the pain, I did a printing course, something completely different to my usual practice of acrylic painting. The lino cutting process allowed me to illustrate with one solid block of black ink how I felt that day. It stands alone from all my other work before and since. Until now it remained hidden along with the memory.
A fiercely independent self-taught artist, Ruth Gray has paintings in collections in the UK, China, Europe, America and Australia and has exhibited work in more than one hundred shows worldwide.