A unique exhibition merging scientific research with art is contributing to the understanding of the enduring bond between a mother and child.
Dr Rachel Burgess' exhibition Echo Ex Umbra demonstrates through photography, video stills, watercolour and drawings that the mother-child bond is not just a spiritual or emotional event, but a physical event.
Dr Burgess, a Research Fellow at the University of Newcastle's ArtsHealth Centre for Research and Practice, said her works could provide some comfort for women who have suffered the loss of a baby during pregnancy.
"Generations of women have grieved the loss of unborn babies, yet every mother has a shadow of every baby she has nurtured," Dr Burgess said.
"The fetal cells that enter a mother's body during pregnancy remain forever in her body through a phenomenon called micro-chimerism - the presence of a small number of cells genetically distinct from those of the host individual and an organ.
"Feto-maternal micro-chimerism therefore represents a metaphor for the spirit of each unborn baby, regardless of whether it lives or dies."
The exhibition recreates micro-chimerism in cell culture by visualising the cellular interaction between fetal and maternal cells as the basis for the art work.
Dr Burgess is the current artist in residency at the Mothers and Babies Research Centre, a part of the University's Priority Research Centre for Reproductive Science.
The exhibition is on display at the John Paynter Gallery, 90 Hunter Street Newcastle, this Friday 20, Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 June. Gallery opening hours are 10am to 5pm.