The Journey of the Hysterectic Woman - Sonya Whitefield

Hysterectic is a unique photographic project that creatively interprets one woman’s journey through a hysterectomy operation. It challenges conventional perception and asks questions as to how, with imagination and creativity, a woman can take some personal control over this often traumatic medical procedure on the feminine body and psyche. The work shines a light on this major, yet commonplace womans’ operation and promotes the use of the arts as a tool for transformation and recovery.

As Cherry Smyth, poet and art critic writes in the foreword in the book

“ This is a skilful, resonant documentation of a woman’s determination to humanise and feminise the dehumanising and defeminising experience of having a hysterectomy. It is a stunning, affecting, unforgettable piece of work that deserves to be seen widely not just by girls and women, but by men who care for them and also came from that intimate source.”

In Whitefield’s brave and bold series, she follows in the venerable and vulnerable footsteps of artists like Jo Spence, Helen Chadwick and Hannah Wilke, who chartered their bodies’ visceral experiences through photographs. Using the form of a visual diary, she leads us (and herself) through the tentative steps of the admission to hospital, the pre-op prep and the results.

She photographs and uses angles that reflect an Alice in Wonderland type of adventure, reinforcing feelings of detachment and otherworldliness contrasted with the stark sterility and brutality of the clinical imagery and surroundings.