A bit of everything…

I’m just updating as I have a new camera to add to the collection!  😀  I got bought this baby at the weekend by my lovely boyfriend as an early birthday gift!  It’s the Diana Mini and I cant wait to get the film finished and see what the images come out like!  This is the camera http://www.urbanoutfitters.co.uk/lomography-diana-mini-camera/invt/5560410283648/&bklist= (here) and I also got some film for it which you can get here … http://www.urbanoutfitters.co.uk/lomography-35mm-colour-film/invt/5560410284363/&bklist= .  The camera takes 35mm film and shoots to a square format or half frame.  So far my film is set to half frame which means that a 36 exposure film now becomes a 72 exposure film!!!  I have a lot of photos to take!!!!


In other news Damien Hirst (<3) has unveiled his new work, Verity in Ilfracombe.   Now,  I love Damien Hirst and his works (reading my blog should make this apparent!) but I also love Ilfracombe.  It’s the place my parents used to take us when we were on holidays, we have spent many an evening walking along the quayside eating prawns from little polystyrene cups, watching fudge being made in the First Shop/Last Shop and taking boat trips out to see dolphins and even a trip on the Balmoral paddle steamer!  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2214616/Damien-Hirsts-disgusting-giant-statue-naked-pregnant-woman-arrives-sedate-Devon-seaside-town.html?ito=feeds-newsxml here’s just one of the “reviews”.

Damien Hirst – Tate Modern

I went away at the weekend to go and see my favourite artists work on exhibition at the Tate Modern in London!  For uni, part of our summer work was to visit an exhibition and write a review of it! So, here is the review I wrote (and have just finished!!!)…


Damien Hirst

Tate Modern

4th April – 9th Sept 2012

The first thing that hits you when you enter the exhibition of Damien Hirst’s work at the Tate Modern is the smell.  Something lingers in the air, something that is vaguely familiar, the smell of household paint, then a musty odour of cigarettes, a chemical smell that I can’t place and something else.  Musty, old, decaying…Death, it’s that smell that follows you around, through the 14 rooms that house works of Damien’s, from his earliest spot painting to the room that contains cabinets of manufactured diamonds.  It seems that themes of death, religion and science are everywhere; you become aware of your own mortality, especially in room 3 when you are faced with that shark in formaldehyde, otherwise known as “The Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”.  Pictures viewed in books and images of this installation do not do it justice, the glass acts to create an illusion of movement, causing the tiger shark inside to move about, curve and follow you around, your mind screams out that it is still alive through the movements it has tracked but common sense kicks in and you can see that it is dead.

There is noise too, not just in the visitors passing through the exhibits but the motors that turn the Spin Paintings in room 8, which also houses 2 pieces of work that rely on air, “Loving In a World Of Desire” – a beach ball suspended mid-air above a brightly painted box that houses an air blower, and the hum of the hairdryer in “What Goes Up Must Come Down”.  The only room that seems church quiet is room 14 which houses the work “The Incomplete Truth” – a dove suspended in a tank of formaldehyde and a pale spot painting “Remembrance”.

Logic wants to work overtime when viewing the spot paintings that are exhibited in room 1 and 2.  In room 1 the earliest spot painting can be seen, it is not clinically done as the later spot paintings are, clean rows and columns, the first is a messy, dribbly, affair with spots of paint marked as splodges that run down the canvas and appear still wet, having that glossy, wet look of household gloss paint.  But from this you can see the ideas already forming for later works which can be viewed in room 2.  These later works cause my eyes to dart about the canvas, trying to seek out patterns and a logic, which is a fairly impossible task as no two colours are exactly the same and no two colours appear side by side, or above and below, twice in any of the spot paintings.  Given that some of these paintings are huge, and the dots tiny, that is no mean feat.  It is clear to see how Damien developed his ideas and his love of colour in these works.

The first whiff of death that confronts us comes from “A Thousand Years”, housed in room 2.  It consists of 2 tanks side by side and joined, one houses a white box with holes in it that contains maggots, they hatch and fly away, making their way to the attached tank which holds a skinned head of a cow, hanging from the ceiling is a fly zapper with a tray below it.  The flies are drawn here, crawling over the head, feeding, reproducing and dying, the unlucky ones getting zapped to death before their bodies are caught on the tray below.  This work questions our life cycle and mortality; it brings everything into simplicity, and creates a cycle of its own.

Flies feature in Damien’s work further along the exhibition, in room12, where “Black Sun” hangs on the wall, the same smell of death and decay hovering around it.  This work is made of dead flies and resin, which until closer inspection it is hard to tell, at first I thought it may have been tarmac as it had the same texture but the smell gave it away.  It is hard to look at this work in a joyous way, it is a grim illustration of death, there is nothing happy about it, not like with other works of Damien’s which explore death.  It leaves you wondering about what happens once you have left this earth.

In contrast are the murals made to look like stained glass windows taken from churches.  These bright, pretty pieces are in fact, made up from butterfly wings that have been pressed into wet paint.  There is a different feeling to these works, even though they contain dead parts of insects, like “Black Sun” they have a joyous feel to them, one that seems to give hope after death.

Other images of death can be seen in “Mother and Child Divided” (room 9) where a cow and her calf have been cut from head to tail, dividing them into left and right parts which have been placed in four separate tanks.  The title of this work plays on the relationship between mother and baby and also the brutal reality that they have been divided, left from right, right from left.  It is possible to walk through the cow and calf and view all their insides and outsides.  This way of exhibiting felt much like the way things are displayed in biology, so that you can learn about the parts of the animal and get a good look at everything.

Further work of Damien’s which touch upon science are “Hymn”, a giant sculpture of an anatomical structure of the human body, the first work to be viewed by visitors at Tate Modern.  This work is placed outside the main entrance and is viewable from quite a distance.  This links in to Damien’s fascination with pharmaceuticals and surgical implements which can be seen throughout the exhibition, namely in room 10 where installations of cabinets full of surgical implements are on show and also in rooms 2(medicine cabinet – “Sinner”, pill cabinet “Lullaby”), and room 10 (Trinity – Pharmacology, Physiology, Pathology), not to mention the room set up as an actual pharmacy (room 7).  On viewing these works I couldn’t help but find contradiction to the view that Damien’s work is all about death, surely medicines, teaching aids and surgical appliances are about curing, prolonging and helping survival?

The circle of life has already been addressed in Damien’s work “A Thousand Years” displayed in room2.  This is re-addressed in rooms 5 and 6 where the idea remains the same but is illustrated with butterflies.  “In And Out of Love (White Paintings and Live Butterflies)” and “In And Out Of Love (Butterfly Paintings and Ash Trays)” is a two part work, room 5 houses canvases painted with bright colours and decorated with dead butterflies wings, and room 6.  In room 6 canvases hang on the walls from which huge butterflies hatch, their amniotic fluids that seep out when they hatch, drip down the canvas leaving coloured stains.  The butterflies move round the room gracefully swooping through the air, feeding on fruit that is left out, resting on the plants, before dying.  This work, although on the same thought lines as “A Thousand Years” seems more beautiful and poignant an illustration of the life cycle, the flies in “A Thousand Years” seeming more violent a description of life and death.

Death and religion are visited one final time in the quietest room of the exhibition, room 14.  This is where “Remembrance” and “The Incomplete Truth” are housed.  As you walk through from room 13 into the doorway of room 14 you see a dove, wings outstretched, hovering in a tank of formaldehyde.  The dove is symbolic in religion as hope, peace and the Holy Spirit, behind it is the palest spot painting edged in gold.  It is a beautiful sight, serene and peaceful; it offers a hope that there is more to life than just living and dying and is a brilliant way to finish the exhibition.

Essay – Damien Hirst I Love You

I thought I would share with you my essay that I wrote at the end of last school year for my course.  We had to write about two works of art by one artist and compare and contrast it.

Damien Hirst – A Comparison of Work

Suzanne Sadler

I have chosen Damien Hirst as the subject of this essay as I have been in awe of him and his work since I can remember.  Damien was born in Bristol in 1965 and went on to become a student at Goldsmiths on their Fine Art course.  From there he became part of the YBA’s or Young British Artists (a phrase coined in 1996 in an article in Art Monthly).  The YBA’s are a group of students, mainly ones who graduated from Goldsmiths Fine Art course in the late 1980’s.  They include artists such as Tracey Emin, Gillian Wearing and Ian Davenpoint.  Whilst still a student at Goldsmiths, Damien helped to organise an exhibition called Freeze (July 1988),  which ‘brought together a group of young artists who would come to define cutting-edge contemporary art in the 1990s.’ (http://www.blackratprojects.com/artists/biography/damien-hirst).  Damien’s own contribution, a stack of cardboard boxes painted with household paints, featured alongside other students work such as Mat Collishaw, Ian Davenport, Gary Hume, Richard Patterson and Fiona Rae.  Charles Saatchi viewed the exhibition and became one of the major contemporary collectors of Damien’s work, helping Damien with sponsorship for another exhibition – Modern Medicine in 1990.  In 1991 Damien put on his first solo exhibition “In and Out of Love” and has had his work exhibited in the Tate Modern and Gagosian to name but a few.  The YBA’s are known for exhibiting their work in factories and empty warehouses, the artwork being cutting-edge, using “shock tactics” to convey the ideas surrounding their work which makes them memorable and the varied materials used in their works, often materials that can be classed as “throw away” and their ‘couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks of my work’ attitude.   It is this attitude and shock factor that has drawn me to Damien Hirst, much of his works being based on death, his ideas about death and themes surrounding death, e.g., The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone living, which I intend to examine further in this essay.  His work has won him the prestigious award the ‘Turner Prize’ (1995) where his work Mother and Child, Divided was put forward as one of the entries.  In both works mentioned (Mother and Child, Divided and also The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living) Damien uses formaldehyde (a substance used in the embalming process) but he also works with other materials such as household paint (in his Spot paintings and spin paintings), butterfly wings (as seen in his  Kaleidoscope VII work), medicine in tablet form (Red Hot Chilli Peppers album cover for I’m With You, 28 Tablets) to surgical equipment (seen in his work End Game).  It is this diverse and also perverse use of materials that keeps him fresh in my mind and his work never ceases to amaze me.  In 2010 Damien was named 12th in Gloucestershire’s top 100 most influential people (http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/Gloucestershire-s-100-influential-people-revealed/story-11886053-detail/story.html, 11th Dec 2010).  Damien was named in the Sunday Times Rich List, making him the richest, British, living artist with a wealth valued at £215 million, not surprising as according to the artist his work ‘For The love Of God’ (a platinum cast, diamond encrusted human skull with real human teeth) sold for a reported £50 million.  It is this work ‘For the Love of God’ and the work ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’ that I am going to explore further and compare and contrast.

The first work, I referred to earlier, is “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living”.  The work was created in 1991 and consisted of a 14ft Tiger Shark suspended in a tank (vitrine), made of glass and steel, full of formaldehyde.  It was funded by Charles Saatchi, who offered to fund any work that Damien wanted to create, obtaining the shark alone cost £6,000 and the cost of the work in total came to £50,000.  It was exhibited in the Saatchi Gallery based at St John’s Wood, London, in 1992 alongside other artist’s works in the Young British Artists show.  The work Damien created has been “considered the iconic work of British art in the 1990s (1), and has become a symbol of Britart worldwide (2).” (https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Physical-Impossibility-of-Death-in-the-Mind-of-Someone-Living/111307055558182?sk=info, 1) Brooks, Richard. “Hirst’s shark is sold to America”, The Sunday Times, 16 January 2005, 2) Davies, Serena. “Why painting is back in the frame”, The Daily Telegraph, 8 January 2005. )  The shark was replaced in 2006 due to the deterioration of the original, assumed to be because of bleach added to the formaldehyde, which sped up the decay process,  when the work was housed at the Saatchi Gallery.  The original shark had also been subject to being removed from the tank, its skin being removed and placed over a fiberglass body and replaced in order to try and slow down the decay.  “Hirst commented, “It didn’t look as frightening … You could tell it wasn’t real. It had no weight.”” (Vogel, Carol “Swimming with famous dead sharks, New York Times, 1 October 2006)  As the shark had lost the drama, fear and aggression that the “real” shark had contributed to the work, it was decided that the shark would be replaced with a new one before being sold to Steven Cohen at an undisclosed price, rumoured to be around £8 million dollars in 2004.  Damien spoke with Steven and it was agreed that the fiberglass and skin shark would be replaced with another “real” preserved shark.  Steven agreed to foot the replacement costs and a new shark was purchased.  Another cause for decay was assumed to be the preserving process, the last shark had not been injected with formaldehyde, and it was just placed within the mixture in the tank, which over time became cloudy through decay.  The new shark was, however, injected with solution and also was soaked in a preservative for 2 weeks before being placed into the original vitrine in 2006.  This replacement of the original shark bought up the question from the public, whether the work could still be classed as the same piece of work as a major part of it had been replaced?  Personally, I think that the shark being subject to a taxidermy process back in 1993 and then being totally replaced in 2006 was just an improvement to the work, the process of replacement being along the same lines as a painter adding one final brush-stroke to a masterpiece in order to be totally happy with his work.  I feel that there was nothing wrong with improving the work, after all, who wants to sell a piece of work they, themselves, are not 100% happy with?  I do think that it was unfair of this question to be raised but I do understand that regardless of the path taken, whether Damien left the work as it was or, as he did, replaced the shark, questions and also criticisms would be raised.

The other work I am interested in is one of Damien’s more recent works.  This piece was unveiled in 2007 at the White Cube in London, and is called “For the Love of God”. The work is a platinum cast of a human skull (cast from an 18th-century skull he bought in London. (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/magazine/03Style-skull-t.html The Iceman Cometh By WILLIAM SHAW Published: June 3, 2007)),  and is covered in exactly 8601 FLAWLESS diamonds which includes a pink pear shaped diamond set into the forehead of the sculpture, it also sports real human teeth which have been re-set into the mouth area.  The work cost around £14 million, financed by Damien himself, and was made in response to a question raised by his mother ‘For the Love of God, what are you going to do next?’.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/magazine/03Style-skull-t.html The Iceman Cometh by WILLIAM SHAW Published: June 3, 2007).   ‘For the Love of God’ went on sale with an asking price of £50 million and was apparently sold in August 2007, the buyer remained anonymous.

In the February 6, 2012 issue of Time Magazine, Hirst elaborated, in his “10 Questions” interview: “In the end I covered my fabrication and a few other costs by selling a third of it to an investment group, who are anonymous.” The skull cost around £14 million to fabricate. Hirst did not specify the “other” costs, but it seems reasonable to assume they could be around £2 or £3 million. If one third of the skull was sold for £16 – £17 million, then the total value of the piece would be £48 – £51 million. This, presumably, is where the 2007 claim of a £50 million sale price came from.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_the_Love_of_God )

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding both of these works, and in fact most, if not all of Damien’s art works (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/sep/02/damien-hirst-plagiarism-claims ).  The inspiration for his work “For the Love of God”, according to Damien, came from a turquoise skull of Aztec origins that is held in the British Museum.  However, John Le Kay, a past friend of Damien, had made claims that his work plagiarised a work that he, himself, had created during their friendship.  The work was called Spiritus Callidus #2 and was made in 1993, 14 years before Damien made his skull.  Le Kay said “”When I heard he was doing it, I felt like I was being punched in the gut. When I saw the image online, I felt that a part of me was in the piece. I was a bit shocked.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_the_Love_of_God ,   Alberge, Dalya. “My old friend Damien stole my skull idea”, The Times, 27 June 2007).  The claim of plagiarism has not been taken further or investigated as “LeKay has become more interested in Buddhism than material wealth, so he does not plan to seek compensation.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/sep/02/damien-hirst-plagiarism-claims, Dalya Alberge, 2nd Dec 2010, The Guardian).

Damien also faced claims of plagiarism for the work “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” which “was inspired by a stuffed shark that hung on the wall of an electrical supply store.”( http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/35697/is-damien-hirst-a-serial-plagiarist/ , Sept 3 2010, Art Info), My problem with these claims is that no artwork is original these days and all artists cite others work, or objects, whether natural or man-made, as inspiration and a starting point for creating work of their own.  From what I have seen of the works created by Damien and the ‘original’ works made by the other artists, there are similarities but the works that Damien has made are improved and Damien has added his own twist to them, for example, the large pink diamond set on the forehead of “For the Love of God”.  Damien was said to be “inspired by memories of the comic ‘2000 AD’, which Hirst used to read as a child. He relates how the comic, “used to have a character in it called Tharg the Mighty who had a circle on his forehead. He was like a kind of powerful, God-like figure who controlled the universe,” Hirst explains. “It kind of just looked like it needed something. A third eye; a connection to Jesus and his dad.””(http://www.damienhirst.com/for-the-love-of-god ).  What I find interesting with Le Kay’s claims is that he doesn’t say where he got his inspiration from when he created his work Spiritus Callidus #2 in 1993.  Damien had said that his work was inspired by a turquoise skull that is held by the British Museum and can be dated back to Aztec times.  It is interesting to note that throughout history there have been many discoveries of jewelled skulls being found.  I find it absurd that Damien can have these claims thrown at him for the skull work when these things have been around for centuries.  As far as I can see, Damien has put his own twist on the skull and has produced a work that is both beautiful to look at, links the modern with ancient times and has a thought process put into it that is personal to Damien.

It is also a ridiculous notion that the piece “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” can be a copy of a stuffed fish on show in an electrical store.  I think that the problem with this work is that it isn’t about whether it was or was not copied but what is defined as art.  The process that Damien took the Tiger Sharks body through to preserve it and his willingness to replace the shark when it started to deteriorate through decay surely says something about the work?  Would the stuffed fish on show in that electrical store have so much attention paid to it and be replaced when decay set in?  I think not.  There is also the issue of meaning behind the work, the electrical store fish was just that, a stuffed fish.  Damien has attached meaning to his work, it gets the viewer to confront fears and face their own mortality.

The fact that these works have similarities and parallel’s to other artists work or produced items should not really say anything about plagiarism.  Damien’s work has similarities to the other work but can we honestly say that any idea, work, music or any created thing is original?  In music certain riffs have been used over and over and it has been said that there is only a certain combination of notes that can be produced and put together before you run out of original combinations, sometimes the only thing making one riff different to another is the pitch or speed in which they are combined, can this not be applied to art?  With pitch and speed being the artists own interpretation and meanings placed onto the items produced?  I have looked at other works of Damien’s and can understand where the idea of plagiarism arises and in some cases Damien has paid undisclosed amounts to persons in settlement of these claims, (It emerged in 2000 that Hirst agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to head off legal action for breach of copyright by the designer and makers of a £14.99 toy which bore a resemblance to his celebrated 20ft bronze sculpture, Hymn.

(http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2010/sep/02/damien-hirst-plagiarism-claims)), which to me suggests that he may have been guilty of the claims against him, but, on the other hand it could have been because Damien didn’t want to go up against a large company in court.

Whatever claims have been made about Damien’s work and the similarities between his work and other artist’s work, the fact that Damien created these works and became famous because of them should not matter.  All artists use others work and ideas as inspiration for pieces that they create, they also use news stories and nature, all manner of things when thinking about what to create.  The only mistake Damien has made is not giving reference to the other pieces of work as a source of inspiration.  As an artist myself, I understand how frustrating it can be when ideas that you have had are taken and used by someone else (and sometimes made even better) but in this industry where no idea or thought is completely “original” we must accept that this will happen and we are as guilty of the next person of plagiarism of work.  The only way around this is to give appropriate praise and reference to works we have been inspired by whether it is a sculpture, a painting, an idea, a book, whatever it is that has given us the stepping stones to create our work.  I for one do not despair of Damien’s apparent “copying” of work and will forever be one of his fans.  Damien Hirst, I love you.








The 20th Century art Book (pg 204)
























Exhibitions I’d Like to Visit This Summer

Here are my top 8 exhibitions that I would love to go to this summer.

At number 1) Damien Hirst, 4th April – 9th Sept, £14, Tate Modern (http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/damien-hirst).  I LOVE Damien Hirst and all the work that he has created and I would give anything to go to this exhibition.  I was so excited when I found out that he would be exhibiting work this year!

2) Yayoi Kusama, until the 5th June, £10, Tate Modern (http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/yayoi-kusama )  I really want to go and see her dot patterns!  Yayoi has used many different mediums to create works and this really interests me as I love working with all sorts of different things and creating works that are completely different to each other.  Yayoi as created sculptures, drawings, paintings and film amongst many others and I am keen to go and explore her works.

3) Gillian Wearing, until the 17th June, £9.50, Whitechapel Gallery (http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/exhibitions/gillian-wearing) I have looked at some of Gillian’s work this year as inspiration for some of the ideas I have had.  It would be brilliant to see some of her works up close, especially “Signs that say what you want them to say, and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say.” which I think is a really interesting piece of work which involves the public and is quite revealing about what others are thinking.

4) Rachel Whiteread, 1st June – 30th December, price TBC, Whitechapel Gallery (http://www.whitechapelgallery.org/http://www.timeout.com/london/art/event/91795/rachel-whitereadexhibitions/gillian-wearing

I have looked at the work ‘House’, a cast of the inside of an end of terrace house for my project in Foundation on the home.  I would love to see her other works as the ‘House’ piece was really thought-provoking and was a source of inspiration to me.  I havent seen any of her other works and this would be a oppertunity to see some more of her pieces.

5) Martin Parr and Tom Wood ‘The Last Resort’, 5th May – 17th June, Third Floor Gallery (http://www.thirdfloorgallery.com/exhibitions.html)  This exhibition is of photographs of New Brighton.  It is a documentary of British holiday makers amongst other things and would be interesting to see as a photographer myself.  I’d love to see how the photos are captured and how they are exhibited.

6) Through the Mirror – The World of Anthony Browne, 2nd June – 23rd September, Free, National Museum Cardiff (http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/news/?article_id=752)  I’d like to go to this as it looks like fun!  I love the drawing style of Anthony Browne and am interested to see much of his work in one place as an exhibition!

7) Veolia Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year, 16th June – 19th September, Free, National Museum Cardiff (http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/whatson/?event_id=5731)  This would be a fantastic opportunity to see some award-winning photography by some of the best wildlife photographers in the world!  I can’t wait to go and see these works, not just to see the photos of the animals but to learn more about wildlife photography from seeing these works.

8) Brendan Stuart Burns – Glimpse,  11th May – 13th June, St David’s Hall (http://www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk/English/Exhibitions/)  I have seen a tiny amount of Brendan’s work and there is something about it that interests and fascinates me and I would like to see more of his work and how his work is created.  I think you can only really get a feel for, and an idea of how work has been approached, by seeing it in the flesh.  I think that this one will be really interesting to go and see.

Damien Hirst, Genius or Mad Man?

I have loved almost every piece of Damien’s work that I have seen, from his animals in formaldehyde to his installation/assemblage peices using medical items/medicine.  I think Damien is most famous for his shark in a tank work (called The Physical Impossibility Of Death In The Mind Of Someone Living.) although he has created many other interesting artworks including some really interesting spinner art work using household gloss paint.  Whether Damien’s work interests you or not, disgusts or amuses you, he is one of those artists whose name will stick in your head, and his artwork will be remembered always.