A sculpture made by artist Grayson Perry after he met an Essex couple is to be auctioned off to help fund the same pair's IVF treatment.

The pottery sculpture made by Mr Perry (born in Chelmsford) was part of a series of metallic-glazed pots. The Turner Prize-winning artist created them in response to a documentary he made for Channel 4 in 2018. Titled Rites of Passage, the series explored the rituals and ceremonies that surround Death, Marriage, Birth and Coming of Age.

Essex artist Grayson Perry Credit: PA

In episode three, he followed an Essex couple Abbie and Laura and their sons Caspar and Ezra, born at just 26 weeks and cared for over 100 days at Chelmsford’s Broomfield Hospital.

During his visit to the unit, Mr Perry experienced the serene calm of the ward - "like floating around in amniotic fluid" - and likened the nurses to the crew of a spaceship, the twinkling lights of the monitors reminiscent of a flight deck.

"It feels otherworldly, like we are onboard a spaceship drifting through inner space on our way to the time when they [the babies] should have come", the artist said.

Inspired by the experience, he produced 12 ‘Alien Babies’, each a pottery celebration of the NHS, medical technology and, above all, the humanity of the neonatal nurses.

He gave one to every member of the neonatal team at Broomfield, as well as to the couples featured in the show.

One of the 'Alien Babies' will be auctioned off on June 10 at Sworders in the village of Stansted Mountfichet, Essex. The proceeds are to help finance IVF treatment that will enable Abbie and Laura grow their family.

It's estimated the sculpture will sell for £4,000-6,000.