project image
Hannah Whittaker

first performed on October 9, 2016
Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, London, England
performed twice in 2016


Jaice Titus, Ally Sinyard, Frank Whittaker

London, England


“Natal (Idea in Gestation)” is an intimate, direct, and interactive performance exploring the conception, nurturing, and development of a creative idea, from inspiration through to fruition, using the visual metaphor of a pregnancy.

It takes the form of a dramatic monologue delivered directly to the surrounding audience, inviting—if not forcing—them to partake on this journey and share responsibility with the performer. It addresses issues and concerns that any creative mind will have encountered when undertaking a project; the initial pride of having the inspiration, decisions on development, potential of collaboration, etc.

A watermelon is used to simulate the pregnancy (the idea in gestation), with half a watermelon being moulded to the performer’s stomach and strapped on and covered in multiple layers for the incubation period. Eventually, after some emotional turmoil (the worries of premature release of underdeveloped work, judgement from critics and financially being able to support it) and discussion with the audience it is decided that the idea should be aborted. The stomach is cut into, the watermelon is hollowed out and the audience are invited to feast on the performer’s failure.

This piece is a reaction of my own struggles as an artist in relation to creating work but also having the pressure of conforming to ticking boxes of Art Funding and twisting my original ideas to something that funders and festivals are looking to program and thus posing questions of my devotion to the original intention of idea that I’m cradling. It also frames my experience of being a single, female artist putting herself out there, and whether my subjective maternal connection with my creation leads to me taking rejection and criticism of it to heart.