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Thorns and flowers

The Thorns and Flowers project explores the use of an arts and drawing workshop to understand the infertility experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Women.

This project was carried out by an interdisciplinary team of female researchers at Cardiff and Aberystwyth universities and set out to understand the infertility experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Women using their own words and artwork.

This project was the winner of the Welsh Crucible/Learned Society of Wales Award and was set up to find out:

  • how infertility affects the well being of BME women and their relationships with partner, family and wider community
  • the women’s views and needs regarding infertility care
  • whether arts and drawing workshops are a useful tool to investigate sensitive research topics such as infertility and overcome language and cultural barriers.

The women involved

A group of nine Black and Minority Ethnic women living in Wales. All women had previous or current experiences of fertility problems.

The workshop activities

First we used artwork by artist Paula Knight to prompt discussions and elicit the women’s views about infertility. Then we conducted a series of drawing exercises, designed to prompt the women to share their views about infertility:

  • If infertility was a creature or an animal, what would it be?
  • If it was a place, what would it be?
  • If it was weather, what would it be?

We finished by asking the women to create a larger-scale and more detailed drawing that brought together their most relevant views and feelings about infertility.

The main conclusions

The women talked about:

  • the negative emotional impact of not being able to conceive
  • how pressured they feel to have children and the stigma they experience when they are not able to conceive
  • their concerns about what they should do to conceive,
  • the support they need from their community, health professionals and policy makers,
  • how they manage to remain hopeful.

Research Team

Dr Sofia Gameiro, School of Psychology, Cardiff University

Dr Lisa El Refaie, ENCAP, Cardiff University

Dr Berit Bliesemann de Guevara, Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University

Alida Payson, JOMEC, Cardiff University


Dr Sofia Gameiro

Dr Sofia Gameiro


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