Damien Hirst’s macabre art factory has its own guards and building for stripping dead animals
Inside Damien Hirst’s macabre “art” factory: a huge site has its own guards … and a building just to strip dead animals
Controversial artist Damien Hirst has created a huge new factory to produce his next ‘masterpieces’ – with his own formaldehyde studio to convert slaughtered animals into lucrative works of art.
Architectural drawings obtained by The Mail on Sunday reveal that Hirst, who is known for making art from pickled sharks and decaying cow heads, created a factory which, at nearly 97,000 square feet, has the size of 34 tennis courts and includes a gallery to entice wealthy buyers.
The plant, on the edge of a housing estate in Dudbridge, Gloucestershire, has sparked opposition from local residents fearing it will bring carcinogenic formaldehyde – used to preserve corpses – a few feet from their homes.
Planning documents describe how slaughtered animals such as sharks, sheep and cows will be delivered by truck to the high-security site, which is currently protected by guard patrols, a 7-foot-high steel fence with Prohibition signs attached, and a crowd of CCTV cameras.
The carcasses will be loaded onto forklifts and transported to the white brick formaldehyde studio located 130 feet from the main building.
It was originally planned that assistants in protective suits would load bodies onto hooks in a âslaughterhouse overhead rail systemâ.
However, following residents’ objections, this proposal was dropped in favor of a “more flexible cart-like system” for soaking bodies in six baths filled with liquid formaldehyde.
One local’s complaint was described in the consultation paper as: “Doesn’t want her granddaughter exposed to the horrors of a slaughterhouse.”
A freezing chamber refrigerated at -25C (-13F) stands ready to store the bodies.
Medical experts warn that exposure to formaldehyde can cause cancer as well as nosebleeds and vomiting. Plans call for staff to clean themselves in a “shower” and remove their overalls before leaving the premises.
From the formaldehyde studio, animal bodies are expected to be transported to a production unit in the main building where they will be made into works of art and packaged, before being shipped around the world for sale and display.
A petition from residents, supported by 45 letters of objection to council, raised concerns about safety and odor.
The formaldehyde studio is located just 20 meters from a property owned by a father of two.
Controversial: on the left, Damien Hirst poses in front of his painting “The importance of elsewhere – The kingdom of heaven” during the retrospective exhibition held at the Tate Modern museum in London. To the right, a bird’s-eye view of the Dudbridge factory, Gloucestershire
After asking not to be named, he said: âI was shocked to have a slaughterhouse next to our garden and the chemicals used so close to my children.
âI am concerned that our health is in danger and that potential rat infestations could be caused by the presence of dead animals near our house.
“Hirst has arrived and seems to be doing whatever he wants.”
The art factory will be powered by what is said to be Britain’s second largest solar panel rooftop, at an estimated cost of Â£ 1.5million.
The development is known as the “Science Production Studio” after Hirst’s Jersey-registered Science Ltd company, through which he sells his works.
Hirst has spent millions of pounds converting the old injection molding plant, having obtained a building permit six years ago.
Residents say Hirst closed his old studio, four miles from Brimscombe Port, last month. A security guard at the front door of the new studio said it would open “soon”.
The main building is made up of three warehouse-style spaces. The largest of these is a gallery to show the finished products. Next to it is a fire-protected storage facility. The third warehouse is the production unit where the paintings and sculptures will be created.
Potential buyers will initially be greeted in a ‘glass gallery’ within the main gallery, which has 65-foot-high windows opening onto a ‘sculpture space’ where Hirst’s work will be displayed among the trees next to it. a stream behind the building.
Important guests can be entertained in a private dining room with a walkway that overlooks the main gallery.
The production unit has a space for artists to wash their equipment and a desk built into a wall.
The plans of the storage room reveal 14 racks for hanging works of art.
defining work: The artist with Mother and Child Divided, which includes a cow and a calf cut in half and preserved in formaldehyde. The work is part of the Damien Hirst exhibition at Tate Modern in London, which runs from April 5 to September 9
Architect Christopher Mackenzie says the site will be carbon neutral. Electricity will be provided by solar panels and the design also includes a large biomass boiler.
Residents who opposed the plans were assured by the council that no animals would be slaughtered on the spot.
And, in a letter to council to “set the record straight,” Mr. Mackenzie promised that animal waste would be stored in the freezer before being sent to an authorized disposal site, and that the solution of formaldehyde would be pumped directly into a secure storage tank. rather than disposing of them in a public sewer.
The only waste stored in trash cans or dumpsters, he said, would be cardboard, paper and wood which “would not present a nuisance to the neighbors”.
Multimillionaire Hirst is the most prominent member of a group known as Young British Artists which dominated the art scene in the 1990s. He was renowned for his savage demeanor and heavy alcohol and drug use. .
In 2008, he sold an entire show, Beautiful Inside My Head Forever, for Â£ 111million at Sotheby’s – a record for a single artist auction.
Other Criteria, the publishing house co-founded by Hirst that works with him to produce limited edition items and memorabilia, made a profit of Â£ 2.67million in 2010.
London’s Tate Modern is now presenting a major retrospective of Hirst’s work. The gallery has been criticized by those who question its artistic credentials.
Hirst has been criticized for using assistants and admitted to only painting five of his famous 1,400 point paintings. But he defended his practice by saying, âYou have to look at him as if the artist is an architect, and we have no problem that the great architects don’t actually build the houses.
Designscape Architects, the company used to secure the building permit for the Dudbridge studio, declined to comment.
Grisly: Six-year-old Maya Hellestad watches the Mother and Child Divided exhibit