by Liam Carty-Howe

Tags: multimedia - film - doctor_watching - infertility - maternity - Effective Consulting - oooh_featured -


My creative piece is an exploratory project that records the emotional connotations people have with the words ‘infertility’ and ‘fertility’. This piece of work was inspired by an encounter I had with a patient during one of my Primary Care placements.

A woman in her thirties came to the GP surgery due to a fear that she was infertile. The patient, a deputy-head mistress, had been trying to conceive a child with her partner for a substantial amount of time and after her last period had begun to suspect there was an issue. The patient displayed raw emotions that I have never seen before, and I was personally moved by the way she expressed her longing for a child.

The GP responded in a calm and soothing manner, providing all the support that the patient required in order to relay the necessary information. Once the GP had received a full history, she began to discuss the patient’s options. The GP began by explaining that conceiving requires patience before describing the tests for infertility and subsequent treatment options available. During this conversation the patient’s emotions rapidly changed from deep distress and anxiety to hope and happiness.

This monumental shift of emotion, in such a short period of time, made me think about the vast range of emotions that we, as humans, associate with our fertility. I attempted to document this by asking a group of people firstly ‘what word do you associate with infertility?’ and secondly ‘what word do you associate with fertility?’. The responses I received were extremely varied and in my opinion, demonstrated the deeply personal nature of fertility.

When deciding the medium in which to display my project, I looked for a way of capturing immediate reactions to new concepts. Video enabled this, and it allowed me to show how the word ‘infertility’ is surrounded by a negative stigma and treated very much as a taboo subject. This was very heavily contrasted by a positive reaction to the word ‘fertility’. These reactions may be inferred through short shots and a single voice over at the beginning of both sections.

Colour and sound also played a vital part in expressing these associations. The opening section of the video is completely monochromatic as a representation of the depressed nature of the patient at the beginning of the consultation. The second section is contrasted by introducing colour in the fertility section, this is coordinated with a crescendo in the dynamics of the music and a noticeable ascending glissando in the vocal part; representing a more positive, uplifting tone. The musical accompaniment I chose was ‘Small Bump’ by Ed Sheeran, a song about pregnancy and loss of life which I found apt for this topic.

I feel as though mycreative project has given me a much deeper understanding of the emotions the patient felt during her consultation. I hope that this enables me to connect and empathise with patients more in the future.

Liam Carty-Howe
Year One, Effective Consulting 2017-18
Commendation and Recognition of Excellence for Outstanding Creative Work