853 exclusive: An 18-metre high Damien Hirst artwork will be unveiled next to the London Cable Car if Greenwich planners give it the go-ahead.
The giant, headless Demon with Bowl was first exhibited in Venice five years ago, but is set to come to the Greenwich Peninsula courtesy of the developer Knight Dragon, which is building thousands of new homes in the area.
An early outline of the proposal first emerged last July when a planning application was submitted to Greenwich Council. After planners asked for more details, Knight Dragon has now revealed that the Turner Prize winner’s sculpture will be placed by the Thames.
Hirst, who studied at Goldsmiths College, already has two artworks on the peninsula – Mermaid and Hydra and Kali, which were installed last December. He lived close to the Pilot pub on the peninsula in the late 1980s, before he attended Goldsmiths.
Like his other pieces on the peninsula, Demon with Bowl was part of Treasures of the Wreck of The Unbelievable, a collection based around a fictional story of a shipwreck found off east Africa.
Hirst describes the figure as an “ancient Mesopotamian demon”. They “were complex primaeval creatures that exhibited elements of the human, animal and divine,” he explains.
“Embodying a transgressive response to rigid social structures, these hybrid beings could be variously apotropaic, benign and malevolent. One theory posits that the bowl in the demon’s outstretched arm was a vessel used for collecting human blood … it seems more likely that the figure served as a guardian to the home of an elite person.”
Knight Dragon says that it will be “a unique and major piece of public art to be added to the London skyline for all Londoners to come and enjoy”.
It adds that the location has been agreed with Transport for London and will “add further interest to journeys on the cable car”.
Hirst said last year that Treasures of the Wreck of the Unbelieveable was inspired by his time living on the peninsula. “At the end of the night, I’d sit by the river and look at all the rusted cranes,” he told The Peninsulist, a promotional publication from Knight Dragon. “I’d collect things that were washed up on the riverbank, too; old bottles and bits of plastic, which I’d make into collages.”
He said he assumed River Way, which stood isolated amid the gas works for many years, had been wiped out with the redevelopment. “It’s so weird, because when I came down to look at the site of the sculptures, I totally assumed it had all been knocked down, but actually it’s the only thing left. I was really shocked.”
The full planning application can be found on the Greenwich Council website.
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