“HaemophiliARTS: Bloody good!”

In December 2019, Haemophilia Scotland and the GoMA Learning and Access team met to discuss the possibility of having an exhibition in GoMA’s CommonSpace. In 2018 the World Federation of Haemophilia (WFH) hosted their conference in Glasgow, and Haemophilia Scotland wished to have something both visible and distinctive at the Women’s Booth they hosted.  It was decided that they would enlist the help of women throughout the world, including India and USA, to create individual patches which would collectively make up a large quilt. The plan was to display the quilt in GoMA as part of a wider exhibition in conjunction with the Women’s group within Haemophilia Scotland to raise awareness of Women’s bleeding disorders, which has historically been medically overlooked. Over 3,000 people are diagnosed with an inherited bleeding disorder in Scotland these include; Haemophilia A, B, von Willebrands, rarer clotting factor deficiencies and platelet disorders. Hence, “HaemophiliARTS: Bloody Good” was born.

Quilt created by the women in the Haemophilia Scotland group.

April 17th 2021 marked World Haemophilia Day and we had originally planned to launch the exhibition on this day. However, COVID-19 has meant that the exhibition will now launch on April 17th 2022 and, in preparation for this, over the next few months the GoMA blog will introduce the women involved in the project.  The Women’s Working Group meet every month and at the first meeting we decided to discuss how we wanted to approach the exhibition.  After much thought we decided to consider the themes within the quilt and virtually explored GoMA’s collection as inspiration for their art works.  The main themes are; Family, Well-being, Women, Superheroes

The first theme we considered was Women, so we looked at a series of artworks in the exhibition Domestic Bliss.  We explored the works of Jo Spence, who uses photography to examine her role with her mother, and Nick Waplington, who depicts family life in a humorous manner through his photography.  Additionally, we looked at the work of Anne Collier, whose work focuses on the use of women in advertisements, where she questions the male gaze and the stereotypical perceptions of women in society. Finally, we explored the works of Kate Davis, whose work in the exhibition points to women’s fight for equality. 

The second theme was Family and this was something that resonated with the women as they described having their immediate family, as well as their Haemophilia family.  Perhaps unsurprisingly the works studied in the previous session, such as Nick Waplington and Jo Spence, were discussed again as well as work by Niki de Saint Phalle. Due to conversations we had about Niki de Saint Phalle it was decided to have a whole session dedicated to her work to raise awareness on AIDS, as well as her own interesting family life and her art works.  In the session on Wellbeing we discussed Jo Spence and her use of phototherapy and Niki de Saint Phalle’s famous shooting paintings. 

Niki de St. Phalle, Vache Vase, Glasgow Museums, on display at GoMA, Domestic Bliss.

Superheroes was a theme that also had its own session as people living with haemophilia often have to live their everyday lives managing their disorder. In the quilt there are two panels by the two children of one of the women who manage to continue to enjoy their life to the full. Describing their own quilt squares they state: 

Abby B. –  My name is Abby and I am nine years old and I have Haemophilia B. I did my panel on my interests and hobbies like my toy bunny who I have had since I was very small.  I love dancing and gymnastics which I take twice a week. And finally a book, as I love reading.” 

Eva B. – “My name is Eva and I am nine years old.  This panel I designed shows some of the things I do with Haemophilia B. I don’t let it get in my way.” 

Over the next few months we will introduce some of the women involved with the project as they share their stories of their experience with bleeding disorders. 

Haemophilia Scotland is extremely grateful to Mary Blyth and her assistant, fellow nurse from Glasgow Haemophilia Centre, Nuala McCarten, who led the quilt project and supervised sewing sessions at our office in Edinburgh and at Glasgow Haemophilia Centre. We cannot thank the staff at Glasgow Haemophilia Centre enough for their support and enthusiasm for the project. Finally, thank you to all the women who contributed to the Project. 

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