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!


  1. Samantha Bellingham20 December 2011 at 15:39

    Can't you see that the is something deeply gross about a ladies parts? Dedicating a post to then, and creating so called art around them doesn't make sense at all! And before I get accused of being narrow minded, I am a feminist too but in a less confrontational way. What are you trying to prove?

  2. This blog really seems to upset people simply by depicting the facts of life. Deeply gross or not the vagina as a body part or symbol or metaphor is loaded with meaning and importance. The source of life, (as Courbet put it) the seat of female identity and as your incredibly narrow minded and rather unfeminist opinion shows a subject of great controversy. Art is about asking questions and looking at the things that we'd rather not look at, especially something 'deeply gross' yet capable of the purest, fundamental, most natural human act; the giving of life.
    If you don't understand my point then I don't have the time, inclination or resources to explain it to you.
    It amazes me that troglodytes like you still exist at all. You can't be a) much of a feminist and b) much of a woman if you're so offended by your own cunt. May I direct you to the 'so called art' of Thomas Kinkade Painter of Shite. I think perhaps he's more your speed.

  3. It doesn't matter which labels you use to describe your politics or your gender. Women's bodies are not 'deeply gross'. People who think that women's natural body parts are 'gross' need to deal with their internalised misogyny and their own emotional issues. (I happen to be a man who prefers men sexually, but I don't consider women 'gross' and neither do most well-adjusted people over 5!)

  4. "Deeply gross"?? And that from a woman, too. Sad.

    No, I wouldn't call you narrow-minded. I would call you sick.


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