Before Birth by Leah Crossley | A.i.R

Before Birth by Leah Crossley | A.i.R

Leah Crossley provides an unedited detailed account of her pregnancy in this piece, Before Birth for Wales Arts Review as part of the Artists in Residence series. Throughout 2017 artists, including Leah Crossley will take a leading creative role in what Wales Arts Review publishes, centring their skills on a challenging project over the course of a month. We were inundated with applications, receiving hundreds of emails about the positions, and it was no easy task whittling down all that talent to this final eleven. Our team of six editors debated long into the night, and in the end, we decided on a collection of people who we most want to work with, and whose work excites us. We think you will be excited by them too.

Leah Crossley is a photographic-artist, with no formal training in photography. Her projects emanate from a personal approach to camera art, digital image-making and collage that has been evolving since 2010. She employs an experimental approach to photographic processes; layering is an integral component to my visual interpretations and interventions, eg. through collage, multiple-exposures, blurring, transposing, embedding text and image into pre-existing publications.

Her residency with Wales Arts Review will provide time and space through which to disclose personal artistic developments in relation to herself as an artist, via deeper exploration into the journaling process and its value as an artistic tool of discovery and expression. It will also contribute to the development of a self-directed Artist Residency in Motherhood as a vehicle for extending and developing her focus, and to establish a framework within which she can explore ways of working as a new Mother and creating work about Motherhood. 

Before Birth | Pregnancy
Before Birth | Self Portrait of Leah during her pregnancy in 2016

UN-EDITED… Before Birth… (My Pregnancy)

Your dancing fins and your velvet touch and your sucking mouth. In the intertwine your Birth and I are courting like insects do, inversely – as to a rotting skunk. You inhale, the stinging pungency of thirty-one years carrion-red, acrid – from both lungs. I carry you, your velvet touch, in the moist pink lining, hidden deep inside the folds, muffled and advancing towards the pelvis, furrowing a trench towards glare. A consistent labouring. Nine months. Worn like a water nurse. The tight membrane swaddles a wet world. You’re a Venetian Princess surrounded by water. You’re a Venetian Princess inside a Byzantine Pool.

I. sown on breath bestowed to your sucking mouth, I – yours. Anchor and stranger, your Jelly,


your sweet and sticky.

I am. Mucus; the colour of blood.

You wear me like a hat or a cape.

A prophetic ache in my pelvis rumbles at 3:30 am, need for lime chills and clementines. I hope you liked the clementines. I hope you liked the climate… Rumbles lunar curved and rolling… my tummy waves  – Hello!

You are a velvet touch and rattle, sucking lips and sucking hands, fingers and toes.

The earth is changing underfoot, or perhaps it is how I walk upon it…. Changes. Time felt differently; given a different duration; Now; New World Order; you give Longevity. So far, thirty-one years of life swarms inside my body like I am courting Bees. There are some known landmarks, signs and symbols; meanings collide and become nonsense, re-defining their nature… birds without song; feathers without birds; seeds without roses; hair without heads. The word ‘Mother’ is underlined; Mother from scripture; Mother from Nature… and the names of trees and the bitterness of grapefruits. We are courting like-natures. Neither of us asking to cling like Daughters on the female line. We have crosses to bear. There are war zones between Lovers and Mothers and Daughters… the silence after the war or before it – you can never be too sure. We are at the site of sacred lesions. Born will be the secrets of this World…  ssssh. They are a secret. Yours to keep. Yours to keep or to forget…

This contribution by Leah Crossley which provides a detailed analysis of pregnancy is part of the Artists in Residence series.