Quinn assumes foetal position

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Ever since Marc Quinn used nine pints of his own blood to create a cast of his head for Charles Saatchi's gallery more than a decade ago, his artwork has captured changing states of the human body.

Now Quinn's latest offering returns the physical form to its beginnings in a series of monumental sculptures of human foetuses in different stages of gestation.

Inspired by Michelangelo's Slaves, which reveals human bodies emerging out of roughly hewn rock, Quinn's exhibition, Evolution, features sculptures of nine large-scale human embryos crafted out of pink marble. It opens today at the White Cube Gallery in London,

Quinn, 43, said the project, which he began two-and-a-half years ago, was a celebration of the origins of life. It was a continuation of ideas about the body which he first explored in his statue of the artist Alison Lapper, who was born with no arms and shortened legs. The work was created for Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth in 2005.

"What's interesting to me is when matter becomes alive," he said. "In a way it's the opposite of death, where somebody dies, they go wherever they go and you don't know. In the beginning you've got the sperm and the egg and, nine months later, there's a human being.

"That evolution of life from matter is what I've always found fascinating."