My name Ann Gallagher and I am curator of this Damien Hirst exhibition at Tate. We are about four weeks into the
installation. It is really complicated installation so there is a lot of work to be done And we’ve got about a week or so to go but we’re gonna walk round
just talk about the pieces that are up and explain the chronology of the
way that the show runs through. I was saying that in here there are lots of things that I am embarrassed about. There are things I probably didn’t want to put in but then… – But they are important to show what follows. – You and Nick talked me into it really. – Yeah – I completely hated them when I made them but then I think looking back they do make sense to the spot
paintings. I never really made that connection before. It was like the
same colours in pans are in the butterfly paintings ‘In and Out of Love’
or, you know, what it does bright happy colours, continually. And then with ‘Dead Head’, which is you when you are 16. – Wow we have got a lot in this room haven’t we?
– I know. -I forgot about that yeah. Yeah. I was photographing the mortuary. Not in the mortuary, it was in the…
-The Anatomy school. – Anatomy school, yeah. So it wasn’t really an artwork it was just a photograph but then I made it into an artwork when I started getting a bit of reputation for being the ‘death guy’. – It seems smaller to me now.
– Really? – Mm it is weird. – Yeah, nasty piece
– Yeah – It was just a desire to make out that it was more real and about something important. I kept thinking I love minimal art but I
kept thinking is not about anything and it sort of kept frustrating me. So in a way the cabinets work like a box to protect things so I took that bit further and just thought I am going to own this space or something. In a way you wanted to pull people in but then keep them out the same time. I always just thought you should never let lack of money get in the way of an idea or something like that. Then obviously when I was a kid I had seen jaws. I thought why can’t we do a big shark? I just immediately thought it’s got to be big enough to eat you and
then in the volume of liquid that would be big enough to frighten you. Because the fear of it- I
remember walking through a Richard Serra at the Saatchi gallery and just thinking
halfway through: ‘God this could fall on me and kill me’ and so I am being physically frightened of a sculpture. The fear of this shark is an unreasonable fear but it’s a good way to kind of tap into that fear
of death which is probably a reasonable fear. And large volumes of water are quite
frightening anyway in their own right. – And what did you think when you finally
saw and it? Was the effect that you wanted to achieve? – Yeah it was like ‘duh duh duh duhduhduh’. It was like the Jaws music. – “The Acquired Inability to
Escape” was that the first work that you made using cigarettes? – Yes I think it probably was.
– And then afterwards came the rows of stubbed out.. – Yes I got asked in an interview recently where they said to me: “You said in an interview that you don’t smoke anymore.” They said: “You once said you don’t trust people who don’t smoke.” – Did you say that?
– Yes I did in an interview yes. And they said: “And what do you say now?” I said I don’t trust people who do. – Do you still smoke?
– Yes – Yeh… I love you really. -“In and Out of Love”. – If you can see people as flies you can see them as butterflies as well so I thought I have got to go the other way like I was saying, where you say well butterflies are beautiful as well but then it’s not that beautiful if look closely because it’s not beautiful for the insect. It is getting trapped in the paint.
– There is that horror that they are actually preserved in paint…
– I remember when I painted the edges of them in there trying to make it look like they had struggled and flapped about and just got stuck. – And then the live room, the live butterflies. When I first saw that thinking: “What is he doing creating this environment with
butterflies flying around and actually hatching out of canvases?” – I still don’t know what I was doing. Originally I bred butterflies in my bedroom at the time so I was hatching them all
out and tried to learn all about it. I think when we started redoing it I was a bit worried because I thought maybe you kind of romanticise things from the past. I haven’t seen it for so long I
thought maybe it was just like walking around stepping on butterflies and it
was all an illusion it never really worked and didn’t look good but it’s great to see back together with the butterflies flying around and happy. It is so nice to go in there but then so nice
to get out. Oh they look great. – Fantastic With the ‘Pharmacy’ installation I wanted to get a pharmacy and put it into an art gallery but you actually think you are in a pharmacy. Then just to not even confuse you, it just makes you question everything. I originally showed it that when people came into the gallery they kind of came in
and then thought they were pharmacy so they got back in the
elevator and everybody got stuck in the elevators and kept coming in and saying: ‘Where is the art?’ – Because it was a gallery on…
– Yeh but I love art that does that. I love art that kind of confused you or made you not sure. You didn’t know where the art was, but in a humorous way rather than a kind of
heavy way you know. It is amazing because the paint is household paint but I think that are really good now.
– They look really fresh. – I used to be depressed when they stopped they are great fun making them. Then when it stops they look great and then you love it for a few weeks and then you just want to make another one. – So if you have got the motion into it- – Yes I remember thinking about that motion as well and thinking it is the motion of the planets, it is the motion of the atoms in our
bodies. It has got circular motions and everything. – And we are going to show them in this room with “Living in a World of Desire”. – “Loving in a World of Desire”
– “Loving in a World of Desire” – Although “Living in a World of Desire” is a good title as well. – I could have done two
– You could do – “Living in a World of Desire” It is getting quite crowded this room but it is fun – Yes and a completely different pace
– Kids will love it in here – And then we go back into the main room. When I first did the first spot paintings I did it as an endless series. And then I thought I should name them after drugs and I got book on drugs. I thought I’d name every drug under the sun, every drug
known to man for every painting. So it became this endless infinite series and I love
that idea conceptually. I actually thought I’ll start this series but I’ll stop somewhere but then I just keep coming up with other ideas. This is a
huge one and it looks totally different to the one with four spots so
actually the difference in the paintings was so great I just kept making them and they coming up with another idea and then making another. “Mother and Child (Divided)” that was the first piece where you cut the animals in half so you see the internal organs as well as the hide or the skin. – I love that inside-outside where you get to see the inside and the outside so it’s whole but you know it’s dead.
– And were you consciously alluding to Christianity when you talked about the titles being my “Mother and Child”? – Christianity I don’t know about it
– Subconsciously? – Well I was brought up Catholic until I was twelve so all that stuff goes in but it’s quite difficult I think to- I wasn’t directly but I love stories from anywhere. I wanted to play with the viewer so if somebody says to me: “Is that religious?” I will say: “Well what do you think?’ – Yeah – Belief is a great thing to play with.
– You suggest a range of belief systems like science – Yeah. I did this series of prints called “New Religion”, which were
very scientific and I think science is a new religion really.
-Yes After I had done “Pharmacy” I was hijacking everything from all walks of the scientific world. – So you moved from that white coated wooden cabinet that you used in the “Medicine Cabinets” and then “Pharmacy’ into these more really polished stainless steel. Clinical looking. – Clinical but they have that fear again, the same kind of fear you get from the shark you get from these. We are all afraid of surgical instruments. – But why do you feel kind of comforted by medicine and yet surgery makes us
terrified but they’re both supposed to help cure you? – I suppose it is kind of an invasive
procedure isn’t it? – I found an old Victorian teatray which had on the base of it, on the glass somebody in Victorian times had put butterflies on
it and it just looked great. And I thought if you did those big they are like kaleidoscopes and kaleidoscopes are amazing anyway. And then they started looking like stained glass windows. I did this one which is like the first one called “Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven” where I did them actually like stained glass windows. I remember reading an article and they were saying that flagellation is one of the doorways
the kingdom of heaven. Or prayer is another one. – The flies are buzzing around in “A Thousand Years”. H ere you harness them and they adhere to the canvas. It is like a tradition of the monochrome, a black painting. – From a distance you just think it is a black monochrome. It looks like tar or paint and then really it is not until you get to about here that you realise it flies. When you are that close and you realise it is flies it is pretty scary because you just
think there is a lot of death. – And then we’re going to walk into the room that’s bringing together the work that was made at the time of the Sotheby’s auction. So you created this wallpaper specifically for this room but it’s based on the catalogue. – Yes I made this wallpaper from the inside of the catalogue – And “The Kingdom” was one of the two
pieces and itself had a special little booklet for itself.
– Exactly yes – Key pieces from the sale and it’s another shark something you made very early on and then 2008 you returned to it. And everything in this sale in the way is a kind of return.
– I wanted everything in this sale to be 2008 and just have this big huge- it was kind of like an event really wasn’t it? So this room, the final room which has got “The Incomplete Truth” in it. It is very religious. I think I’ve become a religious artist have I?
Although I deny it all the time. – But when you use this title “The Incomplete Truth” what were you suggesting? – I have always loved those statements. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story And I think when you attach that to religion it shows a lot of resonance. – The symbol of the dove is like it’s both a secular symbol of peace – When you look at it looks like a dove flying in the sky but it is actually a dove trapped in liquids so it is like it has hope but it doesn’t have hope but art can give us hope I think but religion can’t.
– But you like all these works that say one thing and then deny it
at same time. – Absolutely, I don’t think there are answers I think there are only questions and I think it is for viewers to decide what the answers are.