18th - 29th May, 2022
“There is one thing we all have in common, we have all been born..”
Artist and birth worker Holli McEntegart, presents Inhabit – May 18-29, in Wellington, New Zealand
Holli McEntegart describes herself as a social practice artist and full spectrum doula. Inhabit combines both practices providing a social space for new parents to come together to share their postpartum experiences within a context of care and social activism. Placed at the intersection of birth and reproductive justice activism, it’s timed to begin as we slowly open our lives back up, meet, share, explore and ‘Inhabit’ collectively.
Inhabit is a public art commission brought to life thanks to funding from Urban Dream Brokerage, Letting Space, and Wellington City Council via Wellington City Council’s Covid Recovery Fund.
Inhabit is the latest public arts project to fill an evolving creative space in the vacant 106 Courtney Place (ex Readings Cinema complex). Considered a ‘living art work’, making visible the diverse lineage of postpartum traditions and practices, which are often concealed by the medical industrial complex. This project engages critically with how community, cultural and whanau postpartum care has been marginalised in Aotearoa and explores new models of community postpartum care, with the aim of centring intergenerational knowledge sharing, healing and community building.
Over the last decade, Holli McEntegart has lived and worked as a social practice artist and doula in New York and Los Angeles, but returned to New Zealand as the Covid epidemic arrived. She holds a Masters of Visual Arts and has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally. Her current work on motherhood is central to her art practice, which focuses on re-centering and healing through lived experience. Her art practice is underpinned by a desire to unpack the complexities of sometimes overlooked and devalued human experiences - so mothers and their larger support networks may collectively offer new visions and actions for change.
This is an aspect of human experience often invisible in the domain of art. The artwork becomes a site of human social exchange between mothers, a doula and the community, aiming to make visible community, cultural and whānau approaches to postpartum care.
Inhabit will operate as a pop-up postpartum support center, weaving connections, bringing learnings and meaning via making for new parents and the public. You do not need to be a mother or even a parent to attend. Classes and community offerings will be available free of charge and are inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Inhabit aims to be warm and nurturing, a safe, inclusive space that is accessible and welcoming to all – “there is one thing that we all have in common, we have all been born”.
The space will be open on a walk-in/drop in basis, as well as offering more intimate and focused workshops that can be booked online - The programming and workshops will be facilitated by experienced perinatal professionals, including birth and postpartum doulas, lactation consultants, pelvic floor specialists and therapists, as well as artists and makers. Full program will be updated here
For ‘Inhabit Wellington’ a group of mothers are co-creators of the work. Through social exchange, learning and support visual and oral histories are explored. These are also included as a part of the ongoing resource that is the project Inhabit’s website.
In the lead up to and during the project, visual echoes of intimate postpartum exchanges from within the space will appear around the city as text based drawings posted on billboards.
“One part of the Inhabit archive includes post-it notes that I’ve created for new parents' homes,” says Holli, “hidden inside bathroom vanities and bedside draws for tired eyes to find in moments of need. Post-it notes like this have been shared with me from doulas all over the world “
A post-it note wall will also evolve in the space with participants and the public invited to add to the wall messages to their past or future selves, postpartum friends and whanau.
“My aspiration for the project is to create a room that is a site of exchange, reflection, witnessing and encouragement. A place for the intimate sharing of stories.”
Inhabit offers a space to come together, share and learn as a community how to better care and support people postpartum. Not just through the physical healing from birth, but through the psychological, emotional, hormonal and social transition of postpartum that every new parent and growing family experiences.
“As a society we focus so much on our birth stories, our stories of becoming, but what happens afterwards?” asks Holli. “How many of us know our own postpartum stories, or those of our ancestors?”
Inhabit will be open Wednesday – Sunday 18 – 29 May, 10am – 4pm, daily. There will be scheduled workshops most mornings at 10:30am, followed by a conversation with shared kai, tea and postpartum centric herbal infusions. Workshops are free but will be sign up only VIA https://www.inhabitpostpartum.co.nz/whats-on
What if we were to truly INHABIT Postpartum?
“Postpartum” refers to the “time after childbirth”. Whether you have delivered a baby, experienced a miscarriage, abortion or other pregnancy loss, you are in postpartum and should receive support for your physical and emotional healing
Research shows us that when birthing people are supported from birth, through postpartum and beyond, they experience faster physical and emotional healing, have reduced rates of postpartum depression and anxiety, better infant feeding outcomes, and an easier transition into new parenthood. It also shows us that when we show up and care for each other, we build stronger communities with better health outcomes.
Through our INHABIT Postpartum pop-up spaces and online programming, our goal is to offer birthing and postpartum families free community postpartum support, education and accessible care to build happier, healthier and safer families in Aotearoa.
”Postpartum depression affects up to 15% of mothers after they have given birth, with lack of support given as a factor.” Sourced from: depression.org.nz
”Maternal suicide in NZ is five times higher than in the UK with Maori women overrepresented.” Sourced from: hqsc.org.nz
ABOUT HOLLI MCENTEGART
Holli McEntegart is the Founder and Director of Inhabit, she is an Artist and Full Spectrum Doula based in Tamaki Makaurau. You can dive into her Doula work here www.deararlo.co.nz
Holli is passionate about birth and postpartum care. A mother to two spirited little souls, she has been a Full Spectrum Doula since 2018 and is a Certified Lactation Counselor. She is honored to support folks as they traverse the wild landscape of new parenthood and believes all birthing bodies, and spirits, should be supported, nurtured and truly validated throughout the postpartum experience.
Holli’s move back to Aotearoa in 2020 amid the global pandemic, opened her eyes to the inequities within our healthcare system. In particular, there is a horrific lack of maternity and postpartum care, support or funding available to birthing families, having a direct effect on postpartum mental health as well as the general health and wellbeing of our whānau and communities.
Guided herself by Celtic and Pākehā traditions, Holli wishes to expand access to postpartum health resources that support our communities, whilst centering conversations about how traditional healing practices are carried with us or passed down as oral history. How are patterns of care surviving colonization and migration? How can we better learn from them?