Porcelain Uteruses by Adinda van ’t Klooster

Porcelain Uteruses

These sculptures are part of a body of work about stillbirth. Printing scans, growth charts and ECGs onto fragile porcelain sculptures, the artist questions the effectiveness of technological surveillance in pregnancy.

In the UK one in every 200 pregnancies results in the stillbirth, in the USA this is about one in 160 pregnancies [1]. Both countries, alongside other otherwise well-developed countries, have struggled to significantly bring down stillbirth figures for the past few decades [1,2].

The most common causes of stillbirths are placenta-related problems. Knowledge about the placenta and stillbirth in the general public is very low. Members of the public report stillbirth as a lower concern than cot death or Down’s syndrome [3] despite the fact that stillbirth happens 10 times more frequently. The taboo that rests on this subject matter causes isolation to those who suffer a stillbirth, prevents women from getting the information they need to get when they are pregnant and is possibly also the cause of a lack of research funding in this area. There are still no routine procedures for checking the functionality of the placenta and a lot more research is needed to be able to detect when a baby is not doing well or not growing enough.

1. Harmon, K. (2011) “U.S. Stillbirths Still Prevalent, Often Unexplained”, Scientific American, December 2011, [online], available at: tillbirth-risk-factors
2. BBC News (2007), Stillbirth numbers not reducing, [online] available at:
3. Scott J, Bevan C. (2009), Saving babies’ lives, UK Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society