A monumental bronze sculpture, by the British artist Damien Hirst, known as The Virgin Mother, has been covered up with a tarpaulin after neighbours complained that it was unfit to be erected in a conservation area. The statue, similar to Ilfracombe’s ‘Verity’ which depicts a cut open pregnant girl was placed on the Old Westbury estate of the property developer Aby Rosen, in historic Long Island New York.
‘The Virgin Mother’ is a 33-foot, thirteen-ton bronze sculpture, cast at Pangolin Editions foundry, in Gloucester. The work, which Hirst has rendered in a variety of different editions, can be considered a female version to Hirst’s monumental ‘Hymn’ (1999-2005). This first edition includes a painted anatomical cross section. The figure’s stance recalls Edgar Degas’s ‘Little Dancer of Fourteen Years’ (c.1881). Hirst explains the significance of the reference to Degas: “It is kind of naughty; she shouldn’t really be pregnant. I wanted a feeling of that. Anyone who is pregnant looks old enough, that’s the problem.”
‘The Virgin Mother’ is intended as an outdoor sculpture and was previously installed in the courtyard of Lever House, New York, outside London’s Royal Academy, and on Fontvieille Harbour, Monaco.
‘It’s out of character with the neighborhood. We have to appease the residents, they have to preserve their bucolic views,’ Westbury mayor Fred Carillo mused. ‘The question is, does it belong in Old Westbury? Does it belong on a residential property?’, he added The mayor has now suggested that the statue should be moved to a lower part of the grounds or turned so ‘the graphic portion faces Rosen’s house and not the residents’. An open meeting has been called in the village for the 19th May.