Sunday, 18 December 2011

An Ode To Sheela Na Gig- The Vagina

I created a post previously documenting the penis, so I am aware a celebration of the Vagina in art is long overdue. I was reminded of this recently by Katy Kretz, a talented artist known for her use of the vagina in her work.
Any discussion of the genitals in art tends to have a political colour however much I try to avoid it. Plastic surgeons are offering 'vaginoplast/labioplasty', surgical procedures apparently very important for women afflicted with 'ugly' vaginae! This is not about function, it is purely cosmetic! In the US this industry is worth $6.8m (£4.4m). In the UK the latest figures come from a 2009 report in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. It revealed that in 2008 the number of operations increased by 70% compared with the previous year: 1,118 labioplasty operations on the NHS. (There were 669 in 2007 and 404 in 2006.) And that's just the NHS. The Harley Medical Group reported over 5,000 enquiries about cosmetic gynaecology last year, 65% for labial reduction. So we have come so far we can have 'pretty vaginae' on demand. In other words, a vagina that matches up to those seen in pornography, neat, virginal little girl parts that don't offend!
There is thankfully women who have the sense and the confidence to question this dubious procedure and indeed protest against it. The Muff March chanting "keep your mitts off my muff", took place last Saturday in central London.Three cheers for the Muffia!
Sheela Na Gig, a mysterious image found on churches of all places.

Kate Kretz's Vagina Dentata purse

Kate Kretz's Fertilisation Purse

Kate Kretz's Defence Mechanism Coat, more of Kate Kretz's incredible work can be seen here
   Kate Kretz Flickr

Kira Scarlet's hand embroideries

Yonic Vagina by Jessica Marie

My contributions tend to be less explicitly vaginal, more about the role it plays. Giving life fills me with awe and I worry about trivialising the vagina by focusing on it too much. Strangely, I have no problem with portraying the penis as a comic object!

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