Damien Hirst goes dotty at Houghton Hall

Damien Hirst, the wild child of the 1990s British art scene will be bringing his latest exhibition to Norfolk this spring and summer.

From 25 March until 15 July, a series of paintings by Damien Hirst, entitled Colour Space, will be installed at Houghton Hall. Visitors to the 18th century stately home will also be able to see various sculptures by the artist dotted around the house and grounds.

It is a coup for the Hall as this is the first time Colour Space has been exhibited. This particular exhibition is a development of the iconic Spot Paintings.

The sculptures include seven pieces installed in the park. Among them, some of the artist’s most famous and visually arresting works. They include the celebrated Virgin Mother (2005–2006) which was shown in the courtyard of the Royal Academy in 2006, and Charity (2002–2003) which was installed on Hoxton Square in 2003 and outside the Royal West of England Academy of Art in Bristol in 2011.

About Damien Hirst

One of the late 20th century’s greatest provocateurs and a polarising figure in recent art history, Damien Hirst was the art superstar of the 1990s. As a young and virtually unknown artist, Hirst climbed far and fast, thanks to Charles Saatchi, an advertising tycoon who saw promise in Hirst’s rotting animal corpses, and gave him a virtually unlimited budget to continue.

His shark suspended in a tank of formaldehyde, entitled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, wowed and repulsed audiences in 1991.

In 1995 (the same year that he won the coveted Turner Prize) Hirst’s installation of a rotting bull and cow was banned from New York by public health officials who feared “vomiting among the visitors.”

Hirst, the Sid Vicious of the art world (the Sex Pistols were his favorite band), is the logical outcome of a process of ultra-commodification and celebrity that began with Andy Warhol.

Read a review of the exhibition from The Telegraph here

About Houghton Hall

Houghton Hall was built in the 1720s for Great Britain’s first Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole. It lies in 1,000 ares of parkland, adjacent to the royal residence at Sandringham.

Today it is one of England’s finest Palladian houses. A collaboration between the two defining British architects of the age – Colen Campbell and James Gibbs – and with lavish interiors by William Kent, Houghton was built with an eye to reflecting the wealth, taste, and power of its owner.

During the eighteenth century, Walpole also amassed one of the greatest collections of European art in Britain, and Houghton became a museum to the collection.

On Walpole’s death, Houghton passed to his son, and then to his grandson, the 3rd Earl of Orford, who was forced to sell Sir Robert’s picture collection to Catherine the Great of Russia due to debts.

Return of the Cholmondeley’s

At the end of the 18th Century, the 1st Marquess of Cholmondeley inherited the house. However, the Cholmondeleys only lived at Houghton for 10 years before moving back to their ancestral seat in Cheshire. Houghton was frequently on the market during the next century, and was rented out to a succession of tenants from 1884 to 1916. It was only when the future 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley and his wife, Sybil (nee Sassoon) took on the house just after the First World War, that it was restored to its former glory.

Its current owner is the seventh Marquess, David Cholmondeley, whose keen interest in art has ensured the Hall has become one of the leading exhibition venues in the country.

A small army

An additional quirky point of interest lies in the model soldier collection which is housed in the stable block. The Cholmondeley Collection of Model Soldiers was previously kept at Cholmondeley Castle. The entire collection moved to Houghton Hall in 1980 soon after it was opened to the public. The collection was started in 1928 by the 6th Marquess, expanded throughout his life, and now includes about 20,000 figures.

Houghton Hall is approximately 25 miles from West Beckham, taking the direct route along the A148.