Signed in Blood by Dr Rebecca Baillie

Rebecca Baillie, Signed in Blood, January 2021, menstrual blood on paper, 30 x 40cm
Rebecca Baillie, Signed in Blood, January 2021, menstrual blood on paper, 30 x 40cm

This is an art piece made in emergency response to a BBC news feed read on Wednesday 6th January. Chair of the Education Select Committee, Robert Halfon called for the reopening of schools after the February half term to be “signed in blood”.

As such this work is titled Signed in Blood, in homage and agreement with this call. As an artist, it was at once jarring and refreshing to read such real language, such a meaningful and poetic phrase, amidst the despair, chaos and statistical overload of our usual daily news feed.

Not that I needed reminding, but the mention of “blood” reinforced my ideas all the more as to why children need to return to school. It reminded me of the physical. The experience of being human far removed from the new digital norm of sitting home learning via a computer screen. Has everyone forgotten about BOOKS? About just how much children learn from PLAY? Society is asking too much of children, isolating them from interaction and guided learning in this way. Children need more guidance, they need more protection, and they need parents and carers to predominantly share their strength and bravery rather than their fear.

As parents with children at school, we can pledge not to mix with anyone who risks becoming seriously unwell with Covid at this time. Of course there are exceptions to this, whereby families live in multiple generational households or are caring for those vulnerable or with pre-existing health conditions. In the main however, we could take our children back and forth to school whilst not meeting with anyone elderly or vulnerable in community, with the exception of helping these people to receive supplies at a safe distance. Along this route, we will protect EVERYONE; protect those most at risk from the virus by keeping distance, but simultaneously, protect our children from physiological and educational depravation by keeping them together.

I urge you, those with power, to use it wisely. OPEN schools after the February half term. It is now signed in blood. *

Return CHOICE, JOY and SUPPORT to families, and honor the ongoing, global and historical fight that it is the RIGHT of a child to be educated with stability and consistency outside of the home. In most cases, a shared household is too distracting an environment for a child to place focus on their own individual learning, and in turn to feed the development of their own identity independent and different to that of their parents.

Dr. Rebecca Baillie, Thursday 7th January 2021

*The blood is menstrual blood, a mother’s blood. It holds life within it and calls upon us to protect the wellbeing of children and to recognize the importance of art and freedom for all.

To find out more about Rebecca and her practice see her artists website