In order to evaluate the response to my work, in mid May 2013, I displayed it within the University. The work was assembled to create a breastfeeding room ‘set up’ complete with play mat and furniture for toddlers to play on.
I invited all the people I had spoken to about my work and encouraged new mothers to come along via Facebook. The feedback was really interesting. Although I had feedback forms and an online survey, it was face to face conversations from which I gained the most information.
Many women had no idea how much help was available but those who had problems found the support invaluable in their continuation of breastfeeding. No one was shocked by the amount of crafted breasts on show; in fact they were greeted with surprise humour and smiles.
“For me it was a very playful way to catch attention that is essential for a campaign to succeed. We live in a sexualised society, but these breasts did not evoke any sexual image.” –feedback from visitor
I was particularly pleased to have several mothers happy enough to feed their children in the space itself whilst their older siblings were entertained with the wall of boobs.
One respondent to the online survey suggested there could be more toys, I would like to take this further in the future, and design some more breast inspired toys plus a black and white pattern book for babies.
Many people commented favourably on the pattern, both in the large-scale format of the wallpaper, and the screen, without realising it was representing breasts.
My work was used (for free) by Nawal (El-Amrani, the Infant Feeding co-ordinator for the council) for the annual National Breastfeeding Awareness Week’s picnic in the Winter Gardens this year.
Initially she had wanted to commission me to make the breast shaped dome tent, but had her budget cut to zero.
Nawal suggested seeking funding to make the tent, and she may have been able to find enough money to rent it from me, but this proved impossible too. She has pointed out to me that other councils and organizations may be interested in renting it for similar events in other cities so I may well do this in the future.
As part of the National Breastfeeding Week my work was displayed in the Winter Gardens in Sheffield City centre. A breast feeding picnic had been organized and my work acted as a backdrop. Babies and toddlers enjoyed playing with the knitted breasts. There were many breastfeeding workers in attendance talking to passers-by and new Mothers. The picnic gained a great deal of attention from members of the public who were passing by, due to the wall of boobs as well as the many women who were breastfeeding.
The picnic featured in the Sheffield Star’ newspaper but interestingly it omitted to include any photographs of women breastfeeding. As the event was national it attracted many articles in the national press. A great many of these were very disparaging about militant breastfeeding advocates. This reiterated the point that all breastfeeding support needs to be non- judgmental and inclusive.
Again the feed back garnered from talking to new Mothers was positive with regard to making more breastfeeding room/areas feel fit for purpose.
There was a Breastfeeding World Record Attempt in Barnsley (part of the Big Latch On) this summer to try and get the most amount of women breastfeeding in one place. As this happened in a park, this would have been the ideal place to take the tent. I took along the ‘Pop-Up Restaurant’ sign and had this above where I was feeding.
I also took the sign to Sheffield’s Tramline’s music festival, and asked a friend to hold the sign above me as I fed Billy Bob. I think this might have looked slightly strange!