The Beautiful Mother of All Drain Covers – annoying my Cultural Studies lecturer. Again.

Admittedly, I make no secret of how much of a pain I have been to lecturers at college and university, due to choice of subject matter. Or rather, a parent has told me off for seemingly irrelevant and daft subject matter, when in fact the lecturers were happy with my creativity. Me groaning about these things was an in-joke more than anything – review artworks for a living, and being a bit of a pain when translating centuries-old theories into present day. How dare I talk about modern rock music, when I could be studying Brahms, Stravinsky and Byronic heroes? This was my favourite example, and I may as well document it here. It is on the subject of the pictured sculpture, which I rediscovered today.

It is undeniably a beautiful sculpture, although I didn’t know either who the sculptor was, nor whether the sculpture was meant to be of anybody in particular. I decided to ask, but me being the obnoxious tool that I am, I had to be a bit more vulgar. What fun would it have been otherwise?


Besides being irritating, I felt that they were perfectly appropriate questions. The woman is nude, face down on the ground. She could have been praying, pained etc. Without any context (extremely important, especially considering that one of the MA units was entitled ‘Contextual Studies’), it could have been anything from a legendary figure, to the world’s most ridiculous drain cover. Admittedly, I wasn’t really at liberty to say that my lecturer was wrong, especially considering that the female nude was the subject of her doctoral thesis.

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Still, that’s what you get!

However, you may have noticed that this was not where this conversation ended. I was mid-conversation with my friend Sarah, who I told of this situation. She was quick to contribute with a drawing of “what’s really happening under all that hair”. I still want this image on a T-shirt.


The lecturer replied that “I don’t care what is going on under all that hair!!! I just find it aesthetically pleasing!”. I can’t argue with that, and I completely agreed with her.

I won’t lie though – it did make me wonder what was in the regions of this figure that we couldn’t actually see, and were never meant to? Intimate detail, or rough and untouched bronze that the sculptor need never to bother with? It reminded me somewhat of a sculpture that was once in the middle of Southampton shopping centre West Quay, entitled ‘In the Swim’, sculpted by John Buck.

A strange place to choose to sit.

And on the other side, the woman does have breasts and a vagina (and rather small vertical line between her legs)? Was it necessary? I’m genuinely not sure how I feel about it. Leave you opinion in the comments.

(Written 14th April 2017)


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