Damien Hirst’s humongous headless Demon dominates the skyline on London’s Greenwich Peninsula

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They say that wherever you go in London, you’re never more than four feet away from a Damien Hirst sculpture (that is little bit of a fib to be honest). Nevertheless, his works keep popping up in the capital. Last year we reported that the property developer Knight Dragon planned to install Hirst’s 18-metre-high bronze sculpture Demon with Bowl (2014) by the Thames on the Greewnich Peninsula. The massive headless effigy is now in place, towering over the Thames cable car and dwarfing the O2 arena. The gargantuan piece is part of Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable series and was first presented in the courtyard of Palazzo Grassi during the 2017 edition of the Venice Biennale. Hirst already has two works on the peninsula, Mermaid and Hydra and Kali, which were installed late 2021, making this part of town a smorgasbord of art by the YBA.

Meanwhile across town Damien devotees can see the artist’s dramatic depiction of St Bartholomew, one of the original 12 disciples who was killed by being skinned alive, in London’s oldest parish church, St Bartholomew the Great near Smithfield market in the City of London. This year the priory church, affectionately known as Great St Bart’s, turns 900; Hirst’s polished gold version of the doomed disciple stands in the South Transept.

The church website points out that “the instrument in [the statue’s] hand is not a standard knife, but a scalpel, used in the hospital across the road which also bears the saint’s name”. Hirst’s take is slightly more prosaic.“I added the scissors because I thought Edward Scissorhands was in a similarly tragic yet difficult position,” he told The London Dead blog.

Damien Hirst’s Saint Bartholomew, Exquisite Pain (2008) at Chatsworth House

Photo: Loz Pycock

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