British artist Marc Quinn has created a sculpture titled Alison Lapper Pregnant, which portrays British disabled artist Alison Lapper pregnant. The monumental marble sculpture, placed in Trafalgar Square, London, recalls the grandeur of classical and Renaissance marble sculptures such as the Venus de Milo and the David. By creating this association, the sculpture empowers and celebrates disabled bodies and all that they can achieve in public. 

Photograph of Marc Quinn by Mary McCartney. Image courtesy of Mixer Arts.

The sculpture deliberately shows Alison Lapper pregnant to show a side of disabled people that society does not often see. Here, the sculpture states that societal presumptions, such as thoughts that disabled people cannot get pregnant, have actually created restrictions as to what disabled people can do. By portraying Lapper pregnant, the sculpture also becomes a celebration of disabled people’s health and sexuality, yet again another aspect of disability that is not often talked about in society. Overall, the piece aligns itself with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of Reduced Inequalities and Good Health And Well-Being.

Aside from the 3.5-metre main sculpture displayed in London’s Trafalgar Square, Quinn also made smaller pieces portraying Alison Lapper. In one piece, Another Kiss, Quinn created an almost life-size marble sculpture of Lapper and her partner kissing, continuing Alison Lapper Pregnant’s theme of showcasing a side of disabled people that society usually does not have access to.

Another Kiss by Marc Quinn. Image courtesy of Marc Quinn’s website.

By creating sculptures on the subject, Quinn helps society to familiarize and humanize disabled people. It allows people to see beyond this disability and to instead see them as any other human being who is capable of love, sex and pregnancy. Quinn also made sure to capture Lapper after she had given birth, creating Alison Lapper and Parys in which she poses with her newborn baby with no visible disabilities.

This piece in particular dispels the myth that disabled people should not and cannot have children. In reality, The University of Toronto found that pregnancy rates among people with disabilities are only slightly lower than those of the non-disabled population. However, negative stereotyping, which paints disabled people as unfit for parenthood, has meant that disabled parents lack the societal support that non-disabled parents have.

Alison Lapper and Parys by Marc Quinn. Image courtesy of Marc Quinn’s website.

A study by The Heller School for Social Policy and Management found that the social ostracization of parents with disabilities means that they are more likely to face economic hardship than their non-disabled counterparts. On top of that, disabled parents are also more likely to have fair or poor health. This is why Marc Quinn’s monumental sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant is important, as it is imperative that society understands that disabled people too can get pregnant and require access to adequate parental support, just like everyone else.

Alison Lapper (8 months) by Marc Quinn. Image courtesy of Marc Quinn’s website

Alison Lapper Pregnant is a powerful tool to challenge societal perceptions of disability, which also allows for the celebration of life and the full spectrum of the human experience. By portraying Lapper in white marble, Quinn is also honouring her resilience as a disabled mother, calling for a future where all disabled parents are given equal access to childcare support. 

Find out more about Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant and their other pieces by checking their Instagram on @marcquinnart.

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