Maternity consultant turned artist to unveil new works at art fair

Afif El-Khuffash wants to challenge the stigma about breastfeeding.
Afif El-Khuffash wants to challenge the stigma about breastfeeding. Afif El-Khuffash wants to challenge the stigma about breastfeeding.

A maternity consultant, who uses art to challenge the “huge stigma” and “sexualisation” around breastfeeding, is set to unveil new artworks at an exhibition next month.

Afif El-Khuffash, a neonatologist and lactation consultant at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital, has swapped his stethoscope for a paintbrush in his spare time with the aim of confronting society’s “judgment” of how Irish mothers feed their babies.

The father-of-two said he wants to depict the emotions, struggles and elation that comes with the breastfeeding journey.

“Women are always judged, no matter what choice they make,” Dr El-Khuffash said.

Hospital consultant and artist Afif El-Khuffash wants his art, including this new work, ‘Don’t Let Go’, to represent the bond between mothers and babies (Handout/PA)

“We should never judge mothers but simply provide the support and safe environment for them to raise and feed their babies.”

“The fact is that 80% of new mothers want to breastfeed, but by the first week after their babies are born, only 40-50% are doing so.

“And there are many reasons for that.”

Hospital consultant and artist Afif El-Khuffash (Handout/PA) (Shutterstock)

The Kuwaiti-born consultant, who was part of a Canadian hospital team which saved the life of a baby girl born at just 380g, went public with his artworks two years ago.

He is now gearing up to join over 160 exhibitors at Art Source, an international art fair at the RDS in Dublin, which will run from November 11-13.

An exhibition of works by Damien Hirst, the English artist who recently burned hundreds of his artworks, will be the centrepiece of the art show.

Dr El-Khuffash said his latest works celebrate the “unshakeable bond” between mothers and babies.

But he also wants them to challenge a “societal sexualisation” surrounding breasts.

“It is so pervasive in our culture and I hope that women breastfeeding infants in public will be unilaterally accepted as normal,” he said.

“Through my work and my art, I am determined to work towards improving the breastfeeding environment and challenge the current taboo thinking.

“Women can get criticised for breastfeeding and they can get criticised for not breastfeeding.

“It’s a lose-lose situation and there is still a huge stigma around the issue.

“My paintings are intimate and raw, and encompass the wide range of emotion, experiences, struggles and elation that come with the breastfeeding journey.”

Dr El-Khuffash said he has no plans to quit medicine but plans to devote himself full-time to art once he retires.