Beth Duggleby

Beth Duggleby is a lecturer, researcher, maker and illustrator. She is the curator of Lullabies in Lockdown and hopes that the project will offer up ongoing insights into how illustration can be used for positive social purpose.

TW: baby loss, post-birth trauma.

“My own work for lullabies shares the pregnancy and birth of my first child in June 2020 which took place during the first lockdown. Prior to the birth of my daughter, I had experienced baby loss during pregnancy and so kept my new growing bump ‘on the quiet.’ I was beginning to feel more confident to share and celebrate my news when the Pandemic really took hold.

On the day COBRA advised all vulnerable and pregnant people to stay at home, I left work as normal and didn’t return to the building until after maternity leave. I disappeared for well over a year and a half. At this early point in the pandemic, we didn’t know how things would unfold and a lot of support such as childbirthing classes instantly shut down. The idea of physically shopping for pushchairs and nursery items flew out the window. Newborn baby clothes were sold out in many places online. The uncertainty of my pregnancy felt reflected in all things at the time.

At some point though, I felt myself switch from feeling vulnerable to determined. I went into survivalist mode; buying online washable nappies and any other other reusables to ‘maintain our supplies.’ I bulk bought orange squash to quell my cravings and begged friends for baby supplies. They bundled up huge boxes of old baby clothes and equipment which we couriered across the country. Many friends dropped other things at the door.

My own work for Lullabies grew from a desire to record through image and word and within visual diaries this precious, precarious time. The broader show has been about bringing these stories out from behind the closed doors that we all had to live behind. The children born and grown since the pandemic have marked a passage of time when many things felt stuck still. In collecting these stories up in one space, we can look back on this past and the times we endured in isolation to see the parts that were collectively shared.

I hope that in bringing these stories to the Gallery, this offers a chance to begin anew and that we can celebrate the opportunities granted to us now that we can physically come back together. We have a lot of catching up to do.”