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Strange Bodies

UK Publisher: Granta Books

In 2020, artist Tom de Freston and his novelist wife Kiran Millwood Hargrave discovered they were expecting twins. But Kiran miscarried, and thus began a long journey to parenthood that saw the loss of six more pregnancies.

De Freston began exploring his experience of the losses in his artwork, searching for a way to make sense of his grief and of his wife’s. He finds representations of his feelings towards Kiran in Ovid’s myth of Orpheus, who, in turning back to gaze upon Eurydice, loses her to the Underworld; a story which captures the longing for closeness within a couple, and the intense pain in the distance between them. His search for understanding leads him to artists and artworks from Titian and Francis Bacon to Braca Ettinger and Gerhard Richter. And as the miscarriages mounted and de Freston became ever more aware of the precarious bodily experience that is pregnancy, he excavates the erotic charge of the male gaze, its yearning for connection, and the desires and boundaries that exist between lovers, and between painter and painting.

Addressed directly to De Freston’s wife Kiran, Strange Bodies is an intimate, authentic, and powerfully moving account of a loving relationship that pulses with wonder and insight.


I was hollowed out by Strange Bodies and then put back together. It’s such a generous book, not just in what it shares, but what it gives the reader: it’s a book full of love that makes you see what really matters, both in art and life. Clever, tender, completely compelling. I loved it — Ella Risbridger

Strange Bodies takes us on a remarkable journey. This book is a careful drawing-forth: art and interior landscapes mingle and the reader becomes wholly absorbed, emerging horrified, grief-stricken, uplifted and profoundly moved — Helen Mort

Tom de Freston is an artist and writer, and is currently the Artistic Director of Medicine Unboxed. His work is...