‘It is a different world’: Damien Hirst takes to lockdown life and work

Artist admits he is in a privileged position as rainbow prints go on sale to raise money for charities

Damien Hirst has admitted taking well to lockdown life as he works on cherry blossom paintings in silence and without any assistants.

The artist released limited edition rainbow prints on Monday, which will be sold to raise money for coronavirus charities.

Hirst said he had adapted well to lockdown conditions. “It is a different world isn’t it. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to it,” he said. “I looked in my wardrobe the other day and I’ve got so many clothes and I thought: why did I buy all those when I only wear joggers now?”

The artist is being taken to his studio in London every day by a driver. “It’s all manageable. I’ve got three dogs who I love and I’ve got a big garden. I feel sorry for anybody who’s not got a garden. I think human beings adapt very quickly.”

A Butterfly Rainbow limited edition print
The Butterfly Rainbow limited edition prints are in support of NHS Charities Together and the London-based Felix Project. Photograph: @damienhirst

His work on huge cherry blossom paintings was going better than before the lockdown when he was helped by one or two assistants, whose jobs included mixing paint. Now he works alone, in silence.

“I used to listen to music a lot when there was more activity and people. The paintings are going more successfully, which is really strange. Maybe it’s my focus, maybe that’s why I’m not playing the music. I’m kind of getting lost in the paintings.”

The limited edition prints, entitled Butterfly Rainbow and Butterfly Heart, feature brightly coloured images of butterfly wings, one of Hirst’s best-known motifs. They will be available for sale over seven days.

They are being sold through HENI Editions for £300 for the small version and £1,000 for the large, and will support NHS Charities Together and the Felix Project, which is London’s largest surplus food distributor.

Justin Byam Shaw, the founder of the Felix Project, said: “We are so grateful to Damien Hirst for releasing this utterly beautiful print for Felix. Its optimism and vibrancy reflect our own attitude at this time of crisis.”

Butterfly Heart, the second of the limited edition rainbow prints by Damien Hirst.
Butterfly Heart, the second of the limited edition rainbow prints by Damien Hirst. Photograph: @damienhirst

A poster of Butterfly Rainbow can also be downloaded for free from Hirst’s website.

The artist said it was nice to be able to put something back. “I just think NHS workers do an amazing job. They are like soldiers, people are dying and they are dying too. All frontline workers are the greatest people in the world at the minute.”

Hirst is also enjoying interacting with the public on his Instagram page, posting updates and answering questions. His latest wheeze is to offer his paint-drenched T-shirts to people who leave the best comment.

Followers have also watched as Hirst becomes increasingly interested in his studio floor as it is covered in paint and he walks over it.

“The floor intrigues me. It seems like a better artist than me. The floor is real and the painting is an illusion, that’s what intrigues me about it.”


Mark Brown Arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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