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News article

Baby centred art project travels with rail passengers around the North East 

Published: 08 June 2023

A train carriage with a series of banner artworks above the windows

A new art project which offers thoughtful tips and information for new parents is coming directly to its audience on board Metro trains across the North East. Rail passengers will be treated to a series of artworks under the banner of The Teddy Bear Cabinet: Please Mind the Gap.   

The images feature teddy bears made from baby clothes, alongside quotes and tips from a range of baby and parenting experts. The project was developed by Dr Christina Kolaiti, Senior Lecturer in Photography at York St John University in collaboration with The Parent-Infant Foundation, The Association of Child Psychotherapists, Cosleepy, Raised Good, Nurture Neuroscience and The Institute of Child Psychology.  

The on-board exhibition takes place in the form of Metro Carriage Cards displayed on the Tyne and Wear Metro. They will be in place for the duration of Infant Mental Health Awareness Week (IMHAW) from 12 to 18 June 2023, with audiences able to experience it in between stations. The works will be positioned facing the buggy area on the carriages, so that they are in easy view for parents and carers on the trains.   

The displays have a QR code which can be scanned to direct to online resources. It brings parenting expertise to the public in an accessible visual manner, from useful strategies of dealing with tantrums, to brain development and how to calm a baby.  

Dr Christina Kolaiti, Senior Lecturer in Photography at York St John University said: “The Teddy Bear Cabinet started in 2021 with a series of 12 photographic portraits of Teddy bears made from keepsakes such as baby grows, baby blankets, pregnancy blankets given by 12 different mothers.   

“Please Mind the Gap now responds to the Parent-Infant Foundation's pledge to raise awareness of a 'baby blind spot' in the UK's mental health provision by highlighting the positive impact of nurturing during the early years of the infant's life. This begins with ‘Bonding Before Birth' which is the title of IMHAW’s theme this year.   

“The work represents narratives of new motherhood and early attachment, through photography. It aims to be informative and thought provoking, a reminder to consider the importance of babies' social and emotional development and maternal wellbeing.”  

Tamora Langley, Head of Policy and Communications at the Parent-Infant Foundation said: “Sensitive, nurturing relationships between parents and their babies are fundamental to emotional attachment and infant mental health.  These relationships begin during pregnancy, but that is not widely understood or recognised.   

“We hope exhibitions like this one help raise awareness of the importance of bonding with your baby before birth and the support available to help families who are struggling.”  

As well as the work on the Metro, a permanent exhibition of The Teddy Cabinet has just been installed at Northumbria Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington, next to the Pregnancy Assessment Unit and Birthing Centre. This has been organised by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust's Bright Arts Charity.  

Find out more on the Teddy Bear Cabinet instagram page 

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