'The Miraculous Journey' (2005 – 2013) consists of fourteen large-scale bronze sculptures that chart the gestation of a foetus from conception to birth. The colossal figures have been revealed outside the new Sidra Medical and Research Centre in Doha.
Damien Hirst, 'The Miraculous Journey', 2005-2013 Photographed by Oli Hale © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2013
The ambitious project has been commissioned under the patronage of H. E. Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani, Qatar Museums Authority and Qatar Foundation. Conceived by the artist in 2005 and taking over three years to fabricate, the work’s completion has been timed to coincide with the opening of Hirst’s first solo show in the Middle East: ‘Relics’ at ALRIWAQ exhibition space.
'The Miraculous Journey' begins with the fertilization of an egg and ends with a fully formed baby. The colossal bronze figures range from 5 to 11 metres in height and the whole structure weighs 216 metric tonnes. They were individually cast in over 500 panels at Pangolin Foundry in the UK before being transported to Qatar. The scale of the sculptures required the foundry to weld a staggering total of 19 kilometres to stitch together the panels and Pangolin describe it as their largest project to date.
Hirst explains that the work came from, “a desire to create something monumental, whilst essentially human.” The work addresses some of the artist’s most enduring concerns and is simultaneously a celebration of life, and an exploration of the difficulties inherent in trying to express the profundities of our existences. Hirst states: “Ultimately, the journey a baby goes through before birth is bigger than anything it will experience in its human life. I hope the sculpture will instill in the viewer a sense of awe and wonder at this extraordinary human process, which will soon be occurring in the Sidra Medical Center, as well as every second all across the globe.”
'The Miraculous Journey' is part of a visionary series of cultural initiatives patronised by H. E. Sheikha Al Mayassa Bint Hamad Al Thani, that aim to redress the traditional boundaries between eastern and western art in the Middle East. The introduction of Hirst’s bold and sometimes controversial work signals an important step in the growth of a cross-cultural dialogue between the UK and Qatar. Hirst’s contribution to the Doha landscape will invaluably enhance the city’s burgeoning international reputation as a cultural destination.
Thanks to damienhirst.com for this article.