All my UK readers, please visit this gallery by June 2nd. Apologies for not posting sooner, but I just received notice regarding this show.
SKIN DEEP featuring The Great Wall Of Vagina – London Exhibition (Last week of show!!)
Jamie McCartney’s debut solo exhibition SKIN DEEP at the Hay Hill Gallery, Cork Street, features over 40 artworks celebrating both the human body and the human condition. Headlining the show is the long-awaited gallery premiere of The Great Wall of Vagina, a sculpture intended to change the lives of women. It is without a doubt succeeding.
This iconic sculpture is of great social importance and is a highly provocative response to the exponential rise in cosmetic labial surgeries. By confronting the viewer and revealing the diversity of female genital appearance, McCartney opposes any notion of a singularly “perfect” aesthetic, thereby forcing society to rethink its relationship with the vulva.
“It’s time our society grew up around these issues and I’m certain that art has a role to play.” Jamie McCartney
It’s not vulgar, it’s vulva. This isn’t just sensation, it is art with a social conscience. The sculpture has caught the public’s imagination, using the twin approaches of humour and spectacle. Having captured their attention it then educates about what normal women really look like ‘down there’. The Great Wall of Vagina, is recognised worldwide for its artistic impact and social importance. Created from 400 plaster casts taken from volunteers’ vulvas this “Vagina Monologues of sculpture” sculpture is succeeding in changing the lives of women around the world. How often can one say that and mean it? How often does a sculpture have it’s own website??
1. “Hi just wanted to say how stunning the exhibition is in Cork St. I sat across the street from it all week and finally got in to see it on Saturday. I am sure I am joining many women in saying thank you for putting my mind at rest. Nough said!” Charlotte, UK
2. “Thank you Jamie, your work does exactly what you set out to do. I feel better now!” Kimberley, USA
3. “I want to personally thank you, Jamie, for The Great Wall of Vagina. This work finally (finally!) presents women with what we look like, what is “normal”, what is OK, what our lovers see and love and are turned on by during intimate moments. As an adult woman (36) trying to see what other vuIvas look like ( as recently as a month ago), asking female friends if they too wonder what others look like, comparing and showing my vulva with close friends, I always came out with the frustration of how men see each other’s genitalia so easily in changing rooms and whatnot and how for women, porn seems to have this quasi labia-less pink orifice that does not resemble ours. The real-life comparison always stops at two, maybe three vulvas, if a hetero woman is lucky enough to have such friends who will giddily pull down their pants and open up. Of course Obgyns and midwives get their fair share of exposure but when I look up vagina or vulva on the Internet, I get few images and most are either of the porn variety or diseased. It pretty much sums up society’s perception of women’ s sexuality, I suppose.
So again, thank you. For the first time, I am able to see what I have been looking for and know it is from a trustworthy source. I’m sure I am the hundredth person to drone on and on about this but please understand how even in 2012, in our seemingly fore-thinking world, it was, until your work, impossible for a regular woman like me to see this.” Julie, Canada
4. “I read about your project in the newspaper today. What an important project! I hope it contributes to raise girls and womens’ confidence about their own body. I gave the link to your website to my teenage daughters so they can see how different women are. Well done! Morten, Norway
5. “This is the first piece of artwork I’ve seen my entire life that has actually had an impact on me. I’ve been waiting my whole life for that one moment you hear about where a piece of art actually moves you. I’d begun to think that was only for the truly artistic minded because that just never happened for me. This did. I love the concept, the execution, the humor. I love everything about it. It makes me so happy that you chose to do this and for the reasons you did. Thank you. ” Jayne, USA
Female genitalia have long been a source of fascination, recently of celebration but generally of confusion. McCartney has grasped the nettle to create this monumental sculpture all about this most intimate of parts. Five years in the making he persuaded women from all over the world to volunteer to be cast in an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the project. It has been continually in the press and on TV around the world during that time and since its completion in February last year. Channel 4’s “The Perfect Vagina” 2008 was perhaps the most significant in spreading awareness about this important artwork.
One remarkable thing is that the sculpture was entirely self-funded by McCartney, contrary to erroneous reports of Arts Council involvement. Perhaps more remarkable is that the artwork is not for sale. This is art for art’s sake rather than personal gain. McCartney is only interested in the piece being exhibited publically. He is actively seeking an art museum that would like to take it on permanent loan. He is also investigating touring the sculpture to other world cities.
“The Great Wall of Vagina is no use to anyone in storage, as it has been for the last year. This needs to be seen and I’ll do anything I have to in order to accomplish that”. Jamie McCartney
The four hundred plaster casts of vulvas, all of them unique, are arranged into ten large panels. This exhibition marks the very first time the sculpture has been shown in an art gallery and in its full, nine metre span. McCartney set out to make this project as broad and inclusive as possible. The age range of the women is from 18 to 76. Included are mothers and daughters, identical twins, transgendered men and women as well as a woman pre and post natal and another one, rather provocatively, pre and post labiaplasty.
Vulvas and labia are as varied as faces and many people, particularly women, don’t seem to know that. McCartney hopes this sculpture will help to quell that anxiety and combat the exponential rise, seen in recent years, of cosmetic labial surgeries. This worrying trend to create ‘perfect’ vaginas sets a worrying precedent for future generations of women. The medical community is right behind him:
“The Great Wall of Vagina is a work of exceptional importance for women’s understanding of body image, and one which the UK’s Sexual Health specialists & Gynaecologists would like to see publicised as widely as possible to help stem the tide of young women requesting unnecessary labial reduction surgery. Quite apart from that motive, the exhibition also contains other beautiful works of photography & sculpture (see my photo attached) – It should therefore be socially & and ethically newsworthy enough to warrant attention & debate.” Mr Peter Greenhouse MA MB BChir (Hons) Cantab FRCOG FFSRH Consultant in Sexual Health, Bristol Sexual Health Centre BS2 0JD UK
The sculpture makes for fascinating and revealing viewing which is a far cry from pornography. It is not erotic art. It is not about titillation. McCartney has pulled off an amazing trick, to deliberately make the sexual nonsexual. One is able to stare without shame but instead in wonder at this exposé of human variety. The educational aspects of the sculpture are highlighted on the new education page on the website.
The SKIN DEEP exhibition focuses on notions of beauty and society’s obsession with the physical self. Alongside The Great Wall of Vagina, McCartney premieres his new work, The Physical Photography series (themed, life-sized body photographs taken without a camera) as well as many of his other sculptures all sharing a contemporary, Surrealist twist. As a concession to all the requests to buy vagina panels McCartney also shows some specially created, limited edition vagina and penis sculptures, that are for sale to the public.
So a new star has appeared on the London art scene. Over 500 people attended the launch last week of his truly groundbreaking exhibition that has people talking around the world. Cork Street in London has rarely seen such scenes. It marks a return to form for this most hallowed of art districts, once again breaking the mould to deliver a new art phenomenon.
With 400 vaginas down one wall and a life-size photo of a naked Jesus opposite it is no wonder people are flocking to the gallery. McCartney has taken London’s art scene by storm. A quote from this month’s Art of England perhaps sums it all up, “Like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst… the world will be talking about Jamie McCartney for a long time to come”.
Notes to Editors:
The exhibition runs until June 2nd 2012
Hay Hill Gallery, 5a Cork Street, London, W1S 3NY T: 020 7439 1001
Opening hours: Monday ‐ Saturday, 10.30am‐6pm FREE ADMISSION
Jamie McCartney will be at the gallery to discuss his artworks and sign copies of Great Wall of Vagina book every Saturday from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm.
All artworks in the exhibition are for sale (except The Great Wall of Vagina). With prices ranging from £500 to £25K there are artworks to suit any budget.
Jamie McCartney is a British artist who lives and works in Brighton but trained at Hartford Art School (USA), graduating in 1991. Initially he ran his own forge, making steel sculptures. He then moved into SFX in the film industry, working on feature films such as Blackhawk Down and Casino Royale. His degree in Experimental Studio Art and SFX skills continue to inform his work. No subject is too controversial, nor any process or material off limits.