Designer donates artwork to St Thomas’ after giving birth at the Southwark hospital in 2016

A designer has donated artwork exhibited at a museum to thank medics for the care she received when she had her child.

Stiliyana Minkovska, 30, donated a collection of artwork comprising of three birthing chairs named Ultima Thule to the St Thomas’ Hospital Home from Home Birth Centre. The centre is where women with low risk pregnancies give birth.

The chairs were inspired by Stiliyana’s experiences of giving birth to her four-year-old daughter Stelena at the hospital in January 2016 and are designed to support women during childbirth.

The chairs were exhibited at the Design Museum in London earlier this year, where she was recently an artist in residence.

Stiliyana, from Kentish Town in north London, said: “As soon as I found out I was pregnant I wanted to have the baby at St Thomas’ Hospital. I love the location of the hospital and its history.

“I had a very easy pregnancy, but my daughter was overdue so I was admitted to St Thomas’ on December 31 to be induced.

“The labour was very painful but it was a truly wonderful, awe-inspiring and cosmic experience. The midwives were very supportive and I was allowed to film the birth for my then architecture project as part of my MA Architecture degree at the Royal College of Art. When Stelena arrived I was so elated I felt like jumping up and down.

“After her arrival we were taken to the postnatal ward where I had the most beautiful view of the River Thames and the Houses of Parliament. It was truly magical. The experience changed me as a person and designer. It ignited my interest in childbirth and how women could be better supported and empowered during the process.”

Stiliyana in a chair (Picture: Felix Speller for Stiliyana)

The first chair, Labour Silla, supports pregnant women to find the right position during labour. The second, the Parturition Stool, consists of two face-to-face chairs to connect the mother in labour with her partner or the midwife assisting the birth. The third piece, named Solace Chaise, is a chaise lounge to support postnatal recovery and aid bonding between mother and baby. The chairs are upholstered in hardwearing vinyl and have a matt appearance.

The Ultima Thule collection was displayed at the Design Museum from January to July this year.

The chairs are currently just for display use only at St Thomas’ Hospital.

Stiliyana is a designer and qualified architect and her work includes architectural, interior, and product design.

Pictured top: Stiliyana and daughter Stelena

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