Damien Hirst's controversial giant uterus sculptures are unveiled at Qatar hospital

'We are not expecting everyone to understand them'

Jack Shepherd
Monday 19 November 2018 11:01 GMT
Sculptures of foetus' by Damien Hirst appear outside Qatar hospital

A Qatar hospital has unveiled a set of 14 huge bronze sculptures designed by Damien Hirst that chronicle the growth of a human from conception to birth.

Titled The Miraculous Journey, the work begins with foetus growing inside a womb and concludes with a 14-metre (46ft) tall newborn child. They stand before the $8bn (£6bn) Sidra medicine hospital, devoted to women's and children's health, and are part of a modern art collection that opened this week.

The sculptures were initially unveiled in 2013, when Qatar’s royal family and government officials watched the 14 balloons opened up to reveal the provocative artwork.

The move was considered particularly bold as local women still adhere to century old traditions of covering up their bodies, while images of women are regularly censored.

They were soon covered up, a hospital spokesperson claiming the reason was to protect them from building work. Hirst acknowledged their controversial nature at the time, saying: “You know culturally, it’s the first naked sculpture in the Middle East… It’s very brave.”

An art specialist for the government-supported Qatar Foundation, Layla Ibrahim Bacha, which owns most of the artwork shown at the exhibition, said of unveiling the sculptures this month: “We are not expecting everyone to like them. We are not expecting everyone to understand them. This is why they are there to actually create this element of debate, this element of thinking.

“We believe it reflects very much the mission of Sidra, taking care of the healthcare of woman and babies. I think it’s perfect for the location, as you can see a lot of people are taking pictures, I think it’s becoming iconic.”

Hirst's work, rumoured to have cost $20 million to make, weighs a collective 216 metric tonnes and will stand before the hospital for the foreseeable future.

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