Saturday, 10 November 2012

Addressing the Art of Being Human

On September 15th 2005, a sculpture of artist Alison Lapper by Marc Quinn was unveiled in Trafalgar Square. The sculpture is a three-and-a-half metre-high representation of disabled artist Alison Lapper when she was eight months pregnant. ‘Alison Lapper Pregnant’ was chosen from a shortlist of six in March 2004 and remained on the plinth for 18 months.

“Marc Quinn has created an artwork that is a potent symbol and is a great addition to London,” said the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, who endorsed and unveiled the sculpture. “It is a work about courage, beauty and defiance, which both captures and represents all that is best about our great city. Alison Lapper pregnant is a modern heroine – strong, formidable and full of hope. It is a great work of art for London and for everyone.’

Many if not most people seem to have agreed with Livingstone and the sculpture took pride of place at the opening ceremony for the London 2012 Paralympics in September this year; like the Paralympics itself, it has no played no small part in changing attitudes towards disability for the better and totally undermining old stereotypes. We can but hope for the same from future Paralympics and a better press for disabled people worldwide.

'Alison Lapper Pregant' on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square, 2005

'Alison Lapper Pregnant' at the Paralympics opening ceremony, London 2012

This poem is a villanelle.


Triumph of spirituality,
come Earth Mother truly excelling,
transcending creativity

Magnificence of fertility;
against its critics, surely rebelling;
triumph of spirituality

An essential diversity
above any cultural-religious calling,
transcending creativity

An expression of equality,
(sexuality, disability, notwithstanding)
triumph of spirituality

An all-embracing dignity
with its human prejudices engaging,
transcending creativity

Ambassador for family,
no art of motherhood more telling;
triumph of spirituality,
transcending creativity

Copyright R. N. Taber 2012

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