Torre Abbey Museum / News / Sat 03 Apr 2010

Controversial Hirst Piece Comes To The English Riviera

Controversial Hirst Piece Comes To The English Riviera


This year Torbay Council is borrowing from Tate and the Arts Council Collection for an exhibition for the Spanish Barn, Torre Abbey that includes a work by one of the world's most intriguing, infamous and controversial artists.

Following on from the staggering success of Antony Gormley's Field For The British Isles installation last year, a work by Damien Hirst is set to literally, divide opinion.

‘It is a controversial piece of art which will stir debate and inspire visitors and local communities. I hope this will build on the success of last years Gormley exhibition which helped generated hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of press coverage and investment from visitors, and inspired so many schools, attractions and individuals to get involved.

‘Damien Hirst is such a well known artist and this is a fantastic opportunity for not just for Torre Abbey, but the whole of the Bay. It will help boost the council's long-term plan to be an exciting space for contemporary art and a leading light amongst seaside cultural hotspots.' (Cllr Dave Butt, Torbay Council)

The work is a floor-based sculpture, weighing 6.5 tonnes (the weight of a London Routemaster bus) comprising a cow and a calf, each cut in half and preserved in a pair of glass-walled tanks in a formaldehyde solution. Mother and Child, Divided was created for exhibition at the 1993 Venice Biennale and was subsequently the focal point of the 1995 Turner Prize at Tate Britain (then The Tate Gallery), the year that Hirst won the prize.

‘What do you do if an animal is symmetrical? You cut it in half, and you can see what's on the inside and outside simultaneously. It's beautiful. The only problem is that it's dead ... In a way, you understand more about living people by dealing with dead people. It's sad but you feel more ... a viewer should be intrigued. The work should attract you and repel you at the same time ... cows are the most slaughtered animals ever ... I see them as death objects. Walking food ... What's sad is that if you look at my cows cut up in formaldehyde, they have more personality than any cows walking about in fields.' (Damien Hirst)

‘Each year Tate lends many hundreds of works from its collection to a wide range of exhibitions in Britain and across the world. As part of this programme, we are delighted that we have been able to agree to the loan of Damien Hirst's Mother and Child, Divided (Exhibition Copy) for the exhibition at Torre Abbey.' (Caroline Collier, Director, Tate National)

It will form part of a free exhibition in the Spanish Barn. The piece has been lent to the English Riviera on the back of the success of the Gormley exhibition and the reputation the resort is gaining in the art world.

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