Feature: The Vulva

The Great wall of Vagina

Female genitalia has long been a source of fascination, recently of celebration but generally of confusion. Step in British artist Jamie McCartney who has created a monumental wall sculpture from plaster casts of 400 women’s vulvas.

Their privates have gone public and in this book over a quarter of them tell you why. Nine metres long and five years in the making, The Great Wall of Vagina isn’t just sensation, it is art with a social conscience.

For many women, their genital appearance is a source of anxiety, which has led to a massive increase in cosmetic labial surgeries. This book is intended to educate people about what normal women really look like, down there, and ease that unnecessary anxiety.

In The Introduction the artist explains how and why he created this epic sculpture with step-by-step photos of the process. From its conception to the final touches he discusses the inspiration and ideas behind it as well as putting it in the context of his other artworks.

In the Models’ Accounts over 100 of the women who posed for the casts explain in their own words why they did it and what it was like. Witty, poetic, erotic, harrowing, profound and emotional these are their stories.

Their age range is from 18 to 76. Included are mothers and daughters, identical twins, transgendered men and women as well as a woman pre and post her first vaginal birth and another women pre and post labiaplasty. There are also casts of women which highlight some distressing conditions.

In The Casts, all 400 vagina casts are shown life size with the more unusual ones highlighted. Explanations are written by the project’s sexual health adviser accompany these.

The artist hopes to educate and enlighten as well as address some of the stigmas and misconceptions that are commonplace. Although revealing, this is not erotic art.

You can stare without shame but in wonder and appreciation of these women who bared all for the sake of art.

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