“I was free to interpret the topic of birth, but it was clear it was about 100 years of midwifery,” the Dutch designer told Delano. “But birth, natural birth, is a really important topic to them because birth is quite medicalised in Luxembourg.”
The Luxembourg Midwives Association (Association Luxembourgeoise des Sages-Femmes), which started out in 1919 with just four midwives, today counts over 100 members--more than half of all active midwives in Luxembourg.
Bos put a lot of thought into the final design which appears not only on the stamp, released on 17 September, but will also be made into 100 limited-edition art prints for the association’s centenary celebration. The design, which shows a woman at some stage of birth, is intentionally abstract. Her face is not visible, but she is surrounded by comforting hands, which, Bos says, could be those “of the partner, best friend or doula”. Leaves of “lady’s mantle”, a medicinal plant used in midwifery, are visible in the upper corner, and Bos says she used “clear, big colour blocks, showing that it’s a really powerful event.”
She adds: “It would be nice if people have a positive feeling with the artwork… that people will feel they can find themselves in it somehow.”
Bos, who has lived in Luxembourg for 14 years, is a graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven. She is also the co-founder of A Designers’ Collective and a co-founder of the Lët’z Go Local initiative which promotes local design, products and services via regular markets.
Bos says she doesn’t believe home births are by definition better--in fact, she was happy to be at a “maternité” when she had her daughter, now 4. But she says: “it’s a real pity that midwives are second place in a way… in Luxembourg, the doctor is still kind of king.”
Bos says if she hadn’t been a mother herself, she might not have accepted the commission request to design the stamp. “Even though every birth experience is different, after birth you know, but before, you can’t imagine.”
The anniversary stamp, courtesy Linda Bos
It isn’t the first time Bos has designed a stamp for Post Luxembourg. In 2012, she designed a set of “Europa” stamps which celebrated the cultural heritage of the grand duchy. In 2014, she came up with a special set of Christmas stamps--one featuring an owl and a mouse, the other a fox and bunny--tied to the theme of peace and hope for the holidays. And in 2017, she designed the “Multilaterale Hertogpost” special block, jointly issued by Post Luxembourg and PostNL.
Bos recalls that a special event is held for each first day of issue. The most memorable may have been for the Christmas stamp. “I thought it would be 20 or 30 minutes, but I was really overwhelmed there were so many people who buy cards with the first day’s stamp for their stamp collector friends in Switzerland or Dubai,” she says. “I didn’t really get they would be so enthusiastic to meet me and have me sign the stamp.”
Although not a collector herself, Bos has found it interesting interacting with the local philatelists. Of course, she also tries to buy about 10 sheets of her designs once they’re issued. “Funnily enough, Luxembourg is really small but, because it is small, stamps do not get printed in such big quantities, so there’s a collectors’ value,” she said, adding it’s the same reason why “in Liechtenstein now, there’s a booming stamp scene”.
This article first appeared in the September/October print edition of Delano.