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Project details

Client: Ballarat International Foto Biennale
Categories: MacroNature
Date: 19 August - 17 September 2017

What do you do when a journey doesn’t result in the outcome you were looking for? Sometimes it is about the destination.

IVF is today a process that a huge amount of people embark upon, but few talk about. It is different for everyone, different reasons to try, different emotions along the way and different outcomes at the end. For many who don’t end up with the result they are looking for, the question starts to become, when do we give up, rather than when will it happen.

For more than five years Alison and Michelle held on to hope as they tried various ways to create a family in the way they imagined. Now the question is, how to recover and redesign the vision of their future. This exhibition represents the very thing they can’t escape, the internal search for a way to move forward, heal and continue to accept the result.

Alison and Michelle hope this work provides a place for those who have been through this experience to get lost in the images and know you are not alone.




by Alison Shirley


Recovery is prickly

Then cold steel grey.

One tortured cavernous night

One unending surreal day.


Like a decaying leaf, that slow

stripping back to skeletal threads

That once held life together

Brittle, crumbling spines.


Draw near and behold the intricacy

Or step back and……


There I go

Shattering beneath your heel


Mourning a secret

Whole lives

Coloured in by hope



Told in one tiny corner of what would have been a smile.



Becomes engulfing

Each cell and organ gasping

under a silent guttural howl


My bellows reverberate

around my unyielding womb

and stare into the blank emptiness

A home, cold and unfurnished


You look at me and see a Spring day

But I am Autumn

I am falling and decay

Candles, prayer, positivity and health

Entreat an inexorable creator.


I am blown about

by forces outside of myself.

Autumn might be colourful

But many deaths, none the less.


A fortnight of 9’s

9 visits to Triage

9 pairs of probing eyes, hands, instruments

9 twists of fate

9 shades of fear and grief in my love’s eyes


White coats

Muffled discussions

Discounted dreams


About not-quite-endings

This hem is unravelling

And my flesh tearing, that held these seams


“Just go to work and bleed”

Like another month’s day

And let it be

That’s what the white coats say


So shocking becomes the labour of death

Contraction. Elimination

9 hours of heaving forth

what will never have breath

A full flood of destruction

brandishing the night

with cataclysmic revolt

mourning and fright


All knowing catch cries

Of “What is meant to be”

Becoming a deafening screech

Above the actual happening to me

All that “Happens for a reason”

Gets cast into the ring

For a mother meant-to-be

A slap, a sharp sting


Igniting spot fires

My fury, a volcanic rise

I am heat, explosive pain

A thumping vein

That rages like two suicidal teenagers

Running from the fire they lit


From the embers I stumble

Not a phoenix

A single ash

Carried on a shallow breath

All that’s left.


1095 days   06:00 Recordings

Number crunching

Graphing nature’s mystery

Mirroring the emotional rollercoaster

Feeling each gut-wrenching drop

And each precipice high

Sheer something, but no glee.


Needles, needles and needles

Infinite needles, needling me.

My belly a soft pin cushion

Science nudging at the chance

The elusive dream

Bargaining with the gods

Over miraculous designs


And searching

Searching for signs


I am vacant yet full


What is not to be

Lead with sorrow

From here I must construct

A redesigned me.



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