We are speaking at:

The Institute for Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, at the Interdisciplinary Seminar on Medievalism 26th September 2018, 5.30pm.

We will be talking about ‘Keeping Medieval Secrets in The Experimental Conception Hospital’.

We are taking part in:

Visualising Reproduction In Medical Social & Historical Contexts Workshop at De Montfort University, 4 June 2018.

We are taking part in:

Fertility Fest at the Bush Theatre,  8th-13th May 2018

Anna’s work will be in the exhibition on display throughout the festival (8th-13th May 2018). We will also be part of a ‘show and debate session’ on Sunday 13th of May, ‘Un-pregnancy: Infertility before IVF’, where we will be talking with Emma Cuniffe (actor), Tracey Loughran (historian at the University of Essex), and Julia Bueno (writer and psychotherapist).

Conceiving Histories Exhibition. 8th November-13th December 2017

Exhibition opening. 15th November 2017, 6pm 

Being Human Festival. Free public talk – Behind the Conceiving Histories Exhibition. 22nd November 2017. 6-8pm

The Pregnant Archive – academic and artists’ symposium. 30th November-1st December 2017.

Conceiving Histories Exhibition. Peltz Gallery. Birkbeck School of Arts. 8th November – 13th December 2017.


Gallery opening times: Monday-Friday 10am-8pm, Saturday 10am-5pm. Closed on Sundays. Free entry.

How can something that doesn’t happen have a history? How can there be a material trace of un-pregnancy in the archive? This exhibition explores this paradox, finding and reimagining a material history of pregnancy feigned, imagined, hidden and difficult to diagnose. Whilst reproductive medicine is at the front of scientific modernity, biomedical technology has no jurisdiction over the experiences of waiting, unknowing and disappointment. Those experiences are not new and historical sources offer ways to rethink them for the present and the future.

Conceiving Histories is a collaboration between literary historian, Isabel Davis, and visual artist, Anna Burel; from it emerges creative and fictional reworkings of the archival materials of un-pregnancy. This exhibition re-materialises the past, giving structure and shape to things that have been left to us in text. The artworks explore the search for knowledge about a reproductive body which is as opaque as history: resistant, mediated and illegible: for signs of pregnancy in, from and on the body, and for messages and messengers, divine or earthly. Empty uterine spaces are imagined here displaced from the corporeal frame, labelled and dated, filled with strange visions. Swollen and flat structures, pads and envelopes, hollow and filled, contrast the fantasies of or desire for pregnancy with the reality of the un-pregnant body.

15th November 2017- Private viewing and reception 6-8:30pm. Reserve your free place. All Welcome!


Being Human Festival – Free public talk. Behind the Conceiving Histories Exhibition – 22nd November 2017. 6-8pm.

This event is run in conjunction with the Conceiving Histories exhibition, featuring work by visual artist, Anna Burel, which has emerged from her collaboration with academic and literary historian, Isabel Davis. Come and hear about the making of the work and some of the research behind it. This event will be exploring the curious material history of un-pregnancy, that is of pregnancies feigned, imagined, hidden and difficult to diagnose, and how this history can be reimagined and materialised to think about conception and fertility today.

Book your free place through the Being Human Festival website.

Find out more about the Being Human Festival here.

The Pregnant Archive. Academic and artists’ symposium.

30th November-1st December 2017.

A two-day academic and artists’ symposium organised by Dr Isabel Davis (Birkbeck, UoL) and Dr Emma Cheatle (Newcastle University)

Trying to conceive, pregnancy and birth in the past, as now, were intimate private experiences. They were also ephemeral, defined, or obscured by their invisibility, secrecy and only partial medical knowledge. Recovering their histories means considering the material forms, no matter how absent, that surrounded them. In this symposium we will examine the objects, spaces, descriptions and other archival materials that defined, and were left behind by maternity as crucial to its multifarious meanings.

Academic speakers include: Cathy McClive, Karen Harvey, Magdalena Ohaja, Shrikant Botke, Sarah Fox, Sara Read, Jesse Olszynko-Gryn, Anne Carruthers, Rebecca Whiteley and Edwina Attlee.

Contributing artists: Jessa Fairbrother, Hermione Wiltshire, Helen Sargeant, Nikki Davidson-Bowman, Leah Lovett, Sreyashi Tinni Bhatacharyya, Lana Locke and Ruchika Wason Singh.

There will also be a chance to view the Conceiving Histories Exhibition at the Peltz Gallery, Birkbeck.

This symposium is funded by the Wellcome Trust, Birkbeck, University of London and Newcastle University.

Book a place at the Pregnant Archive symposium.