Patients visiting a £6bn hospital in Qatar are being greeted by 14 giant bronze sculptures by Damien Hirst graphically charting the moment of conception to birth.
The work is the centrepiece of an impressive modern art collection at the Sidra Medicine Hospital, officially opened this week in the capital Doha.
“We believe it reflects very much the mission of Sidra, taking care of the healthcare of women and babies,” said Layla Ibrahim Bacha, art specialist with the government-supported Qatar Foundation, which owns most of the artwork.
“I think it’s perfect for the location, as you can see a lot of people are taking pictures, I think it’s becoming iconic.”
Ms Bacha says the art was chosen with “very specific themes” in mind.
“They are not meant to be decorative, they are meant to be more creating debates, helping with the patients to keep them calm,” she said.
The sculptures were originally unveiled in October 2013 but then covered from public view until recent weeks.
The official reason was to protect them from ongoing building work on the hospital, but it is thought they were concealed after a social media outcry.
“We are not expecting everyone to like them. We are not expecting everyone to understand them,” said Ms Bacha.
“This is why they are there to actually create this element of debate, this element of thinking.”
Qatar has become a major buyer of contemporary art as it seeks to portray itself as one of the most progressive states in the region.