Will someone tell the weather it’s May, it’s freezing today – again. It was an INSET day today, so I took the opportunity to take the kids to Tate Modern to see the Damien Hirst exhibition.
It was really interesting, seeing one of Hirst’s first spot paintings (spots all over the place, dribbles of paint) in the first room and then seeing them progress as we went through the rooms (the last spot painting before the exit, is monotone and very pale, Boy Lacer noticed that one and pointed going “That’s funny, there’s something wrong with that one”). Showing a range of his work over the years, you could definitely see running themes (helped by a great little video that tied a lot of the pieces together), boy is Hirst obsessed with death, with the medical stuff (including the giant statue outside Tate), all the dead animals, flies (as in actual buzzing around flies in a box with a great big hunk of meat), butterflies and lots of cigarette butts (most disgusting thing in there, forget the flies and the hunk of meat, it was a giant ash tray filled with cig butts, it stunk). And flies weren’t the only living thing there, part of the butterfly theme was a room literally full of flying around butterflies, in that room there were blank white boards on the walls, with chrysalis on, like a living art work, however the painted over butterfly wings in another room, although very pretty (reminded me of church windows) was a bit macabre (strange, dead farm animals and sharks didn’t bother but painted over butterfly wings . . .).
Separate to the exhibition, in the Turbine Hall, was a black, covered room, which contained the infamous diamond skull (which you could get into to see for free), that was pretty special to see, the room was pitch black, with just the skull, lit subtly in the centre. Very much felt like a bit of an Indiana Jones moment.
Overall I don’t often pay to see the exhibitions at Tate Modern, normally contenting myself to see the free stuff, but it was worth it, the exhibition was large and comprehensive and for the first time (I’ve seen plenty of Hirst pieces individually before), I really got a sense of the overarching themes of his work. The kids seemed to like it to (although I think one of their most favourite things was the little exhibition guide that they seemed obsessed with, although Girl Lacer particularly liked the diamond skull to). The exhibition was a little macabre and I wouldn’t recommend it to overly creeped out children or those particularly scared of butterflies but for most kids, I really think Hirst’s work is right up their street.