“The Miraculous Journey” By Damien Hirst



A series of fourteen monumental bronze sculptures chronicling the gestation of a fetus inside a womb, from conception to birth, is one of the most daring sculptures ever to be commissioned and installed in a region that’s historically known for his archaic laws and the suppression of women.

Titled “The Miraculous Journey”, the sculptures sit outside the Sidra Medical Centre dedicated to women and children that opened this week in Doha, Qatar. The sculptures were originally installed in 2013 but was quickly covered from public view following an outcry on social media. It was unveiled recently for the hospital’s official inauguration.


Damien Hirst, the creator of “The Miraculous Journey”, is no stranger to controversy. His 20-meter-tall bronze figure of a naked pregnant woman drew uproar when it was installed in the quiet seaside town of Ilfracombe in north Devon, England. Regarding “The Miraculous Journey”, Hirst acknowledges that the set is controversial, especially since it’s the first “naked sculpture” in the Middle East. “It’s very brave,” he told Doha News.


Hirst might sound like he is patting himself in the back, but he actually is praising the Qatar Museum Authority and Qatar Foundation that commissioned the sculpture.


“To have something like this is less daring than having a lot of nudity,” Sheikha al Mayassa Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, chairwoman of the Qatar Museums Authority told the New York Times back in 2013. “There is a verse in the Koran about the miracle of birth. It is not against our culture or our religion.”


“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,” said Layla Ibrahim Bacha, an art specialist at the government-supported Qatar Foundation.


“We believe it reflects very much the mission of Sidra, taking care of the healthcare of woman and babies,” said Bacha. “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.”


“The Miraculous Journey” will be the centerpiece of some 65 pieces of artwork placed throughout the hospital, some made by high-profile international names and artists from across the Arab world, including Qatar.

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