The exhibition, ‘ARTIST ROOMS: Damien Hirst’ is a concise collection of the artist’s works, including ‘Away from the Flock’ one of his signature vitrine pieces of animals suspended in formaldehyde supplemented by an additional room devoted to the artist’s legendary collaborative project Pharmacy, the restaurant in London’s Notting Hill, where Hirst‘s art was integrated into all aspects of the restaurant’s design and integral to the dining experience. It is the first time an installation of elements from Pharmacy have been seen since its closure and the subsequent Sotheby’s sale in 2004.
Walker Morris, the Leeds based, national law firm has continued its innovative partnership with the Leeds Art Gallery by sponsoring the exhibition that brings the iconic, internationally renowned artist Damien Hirst back to his roots.
Leeds City Council Head of Museums and Galleries, John Roles said:
“We are delighted to have Walker Morris working with us as sponsor of the free ARTIST ROOMS: Damien Hirst exhibition. We are all really excited about the exhibition and are hugely grateful for the support of such a prestigious Leeds business, especially in such challenging economic times.
“Such support is critical in allowing us to bring such high-profile exhibitions to the city and we look forward to seeing thousands of people visiting and enjoying Damien Hirst’s work on show.”
ARTIST ROOMS is jointly owned by Tate and National Galleries of Scotland and was established through The d’Offay Donation in 2008, with the assistance of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund and the Scottish and British Governments. ARTIST ROOMS On Tour is an inspired partnership with the Art Fund – the fundraising charity for works of art, making available the ARTIST ROOMS collection of international contemporary art to galleries throughout the UK.
Walker Morris has been a significant provider of arts sponsorship for more than 20 years during which it has supported and developed a number of unique initiatives, from grass roots projects with primary school children through to events of international significance, all of which have helped bring art to the wider community and also demonstrate the firm’s belief in the importance of creative thinking in business.
This latest initiative follows the firm’s highly successful sponsorship of the Saatchi Gallery exhibition, ‘The Triumph of Painting,’ at Leeds City Art Gallery in 2006 when it broke all records for visitors to the venue. Walker Morris also sponsored ‘The Revolution Continues – New art from China’ which opened the new Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea in 2008, attracting more than 400,000 visitors during the year making it the most visited exhibition in the capital that year.
Walker Morris Partner, Debbie Jackson said:
“Damien Hirst’s work challenges perceptions and stimulates different ways of thinking which, in many ways, reflects how we approach our business as a law firm. Even at this time of economic challenge, it is important that business support for the arts continues to be maintained so that such important works can be appreciated by the greatest number of people. That is why we are delighted to make our contribution through this latest sponsorship.”
Born in 1965 in Bristol, Hirst grew up in Leeds, where he went to school and then on to Leeds College of Art. After moving to London in 1986 to study at Goldsmith’s College, Hirst organised the enormously successful ‘Freeze’ exhibition while he was still a student. The exhibition, held in 1988, caused a media sensation, making the work of his fellow students and his own work into a ‘cause celebre’ overnight.
Hirst’s exploration of imagery is notable for its strong associations with life and death. From an early photographic work, rooted in Leeds, the exhibition also features Butterfly and Spot paintings and the now infamous Natural History series, featuring animals suspended in formaldehyde. A diptych of Skull paintings from the recent ‘Poison’ series, on loan from a private collection will also appear in the exhibition.
Nigel Walsh, Curator of Contemporary Art at Leeds Art Gallery, said:
“Hirst is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential artists working today and has created some of the most iconic works in recent history. Through the generosity of private collectors and the Arts Council Collection we’ve supplemented the five core loans from Artist Rooms with a range of the artist’s work which will allow visitors to reflect on some of the key ideas that underpin the nature of the artist’s mind.”
The exhibition runs 15th July – 30th October 2011