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In genteel Pimlico can be found a statue of the Greek god, Priapus, protector of gardens, fruit plants, livestock… and male genitals. Often shown with a giant phallus, here in Pimlico, such a brazen display has however been curtailed in favour of his more earthly attributes.
This is the Pimlico Priapus, by the Scottish sculptor, Alexander Stoddart and was installed in 2007 as part of the public art commission for the post-modern style block of flats behind.
The Pimlico Priapus is shown in rustic mode, described ‘as though he was appearing on Gardeners’ Question Time’. One hand carries a pair of shears, in acknowledgement of the nearby Royal Horticultural Society, the other seems to be a pair of finger cymbals.
Below, some bees(?) and peeking out of the robe his feet.
The statue is a reference to Virgil’s Eclogues, where Priapus is condemned to stand as marble until a garden grows, when he will be rewarded being cast in gold.
An inscription on the statue reads: “Now we have raised thee Priapus of bronze, such as the times admit”, and the rest is difficult to be sure of, seems to be close to the original text — “but if births make full the flock, then you shall be of gold”, except this bronze will be case in marble.
It’s a rather curious erection for the area, yet seems oddly fitting with the background of the flats behind.
This article first appeared on www.ianvisits.co.uk
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