10. Patchwork Dads – Damien Hirst


Damien Hirst, father of some children.

I have a story about Damien Hirst.

In 1986, fresh off the National Express coach, I went to enrol at Goldsmiths’ College. I entered a large hall filled with tables. Each table had a ‘subject’ sign above it, and a queue of students waiting to enroll on their chosen course. The table labelled ‘ART’ had no queue, and the admin person had gone AWOL. I stood at the table, and waited. A few seconds later someone came and stood behind me. He tapped me on the shoulder and asked if this was ‘Art’. The sign was huge. I told him it was, and turned away. He tapped me on the shoulder again and told me he liked my jacket. I thanked him, as I looked down my nose in a snooty fashion, and turned away again. Actually, that was a great jacket, I made it myself, wish I still had it. It was made from denim scraps. I had sewn daisies onto it. Next, Shoulder-Tapper Β went behind the table, climbed onto a wheeled-blackboard and proceeded to ride around the room. I vowed to keep away from this prat. It was Hirst, Turner-Prize-Winning-Sunday-Times-Rich-List, Hirst. No prat.

A few years ago, I was at work, (I have mentioned my zero-hours-living-wage job before, the one where I wander around a big not-to-be-named-for-fear-of-stalkers London gallery) and in front of me was the Jonathan Yeo portrait of Damien. It’s a great portrait. Massive. It puts you in mind of Henry VIII on his throne. Many came to pay homage. Not looking down your nose at me now are you? That’s what he was saying. And indeed, I was not.

This is the tenth square in my patchwork of dads. It is made from discarded books, magazines, postcards and junk mail. It is made from the actual papers, I have not printed or copied anything. There are sixteen squares in total. You can see the whole piece here.

I cut the square from a postcard I bought from the Tate years ago. I was going to sew some abuse onto it, but never did. In the end, if anyone from my year were to succeed, I’m glad it was him. He wasn’t bothered about being cool. The photograph was taken in 1999 by Steve Pyke.

All of my work is individually numbered, this piece is 798. It can be found in my shop.



22 thoughts on “10. Patchwork Dads – Damien Hirst

  1. I know someone who was at art school with him. He offered them one of his butterfly or dot paintings (can’t remember which), but they turned it down because it would have been a hassle taking a bulky canvas home on the Tube. Needless to say they regretted not taking it! πŸ™‚

    • October 1986 – 90. I had a year out between the second and final year. I found it very hard. My dad was a miner and my mam cleaned other people’s houses. I went to a crap comprehensive. I was totally out of my depth. I became extremely introverted. Spending every day in the studio and barely talking to anyone. I think people didn’t realise I was ill. I just seemed arty. You could get away with that at Goldsmiths, we were pretty much self-taught in those days, the tutors mainly just did their own thing. During my year out I went to New York alone and spent the rest of the time working in Foyles. I came back more like the person I used to be.
      Were you at the RCA?

      • That’s really odd – we really are contemporaries – I did 86-90 at the Slade. Also from a crap comprehensive, also out of my depth, but drank a lot and acted the goat to compensate. I’d have loved to have taken the second year out – that was the worst – instead I had poor attendance and risked getting kicked out. Know what you mean about being self-taught. I’ve just started painting again and I realised I’ve never been taught a single thing about painting, despite being in a painting studio for two years! Glad you were OK in the end. It’s easy to lose yourself in that kind of environment. What kind of work did you make?

      • I was besotted with a boy I knew when I was about 17. He was from Newcastle, always wore a suit and had beautiful hands. He didn’t even know I existed. I can’t even remember his name now!!! Think it was Ian. He will have been 2 years (?) above you at the Slade. Fine Art.
        I didn’t really have a choice in taking a year out. I was nudged. I did the first 2 years before the nudge and then my final year after. The low point was when I was forced to see the college shrink. I couldn’t see her when I walked in because the room was so full of her smoke. Oddly, it was at that point that I saw things clearly. I didn’t go back to see her again. Then, the officials were allerted :)))
        I was much more painty then, but still with the stitching. Always the stitching. My work was much bigger, too. We had luxuriously large studios. Didn’t know we were born. Annoyingly, didn’t take any photos and sold everything at the show. For peanuts.
        What about you? What are you painting? Sounds great just to be painting again, almost doesn’t matter what it is.

      • Funnily enough around that time there were loads of people wearing suits. I don’t remember an Ian or anyone with a Newcastle accent – was he a life painter? That sounds rough – love your description of the counsellor though – very demonic. Yes, our studio was huge (it’s been divided up since) and we complained about it not being big enough!! I’m working on our dining table now, ha ha. So the stuff’s not massive, but it’s kind of modular – I’m working on six section painting at the mo, which will be about 8ft long. They’re based on digital images like the ones I’ve made over the last few years. If I can get some decent photos, I’ll post a few on TFIPM. I’m really enjoying it. Really gone off blogging though…have a great weekend!

  2. Pingback: Patchwork Dads | Alison Sye

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