Helen Sargeant is an artist, academic, and mother based in West Yorkshire. She holds a first class degree in fine art from Winchester School of Art and an MA in creative technology from the University of Salford. Sargeant has taught and lectured on the subject of fine art at both the University of Bolton and the University of Salford. She has exhibited widely in the UK, as well as in Europe – her last solo exhibition M(other) was held at The Chapman Art Gallery, Salford. Most recently, she has been working to establish 'Mewe', a group of artists, academics, writers, performers, poets and filmmakers who share an interest in ideas surrounding 'the maternal'. Sargaent has also delivered educational workshops for the NHS and Creative Partnerships, and continues to support the work of MaMSIE and The Birth Rites Collecti"
Birth: Icon Drawings (2011) are a series of pencil and ink drawings that unite the public practice of watching YouTube birth videos with the more personal experience of giving birth oneself. Sargeant aims to expose the physical and emotional experience of birth, paying attention to both her own feelings of emotional detachment during the delivery of her sons, and to the idea of traumatic birth more generally. The artist considers the vulnerability of both mother and child, and through the inclusion of adult hands seeks to represent the carers that aid a birthing mother to be (e.g., the woman’s partner, the midwife, the doula, a family member, or a friend). The depiction of the mother's body for Sargeant refers back to earlier sketches made in the series M(other) Icons. Here, the mother is depicted as fragmented, ethereal, and empty. Such emptiness, despite the presence of a child, is also hinted at in Birth: Icon Drawings. The simple and anatomical style of drawing that Sargeant adopts makes reference to historical sketches of the body and, in particular, to those housed by the Wellcome Trust. The decorative and abstract detail surrounding the vagina is intended to contrast with the complexity of a disembodied mother subject, and to attract the eye of the viewer into the sketch.