Newport Street Gallery
The Newport Street Gallery opens in Lambeth, south London, in October 2015 and will feature exhibitions of work from Damien Hirst’s extensive collection of art. Newport Street Gallery is the realisation of Hirst’s long-term ambition to share his diverse collection – which includes over 3,000 works – with the public.
Exhibitions at Newport Street will vary between single artist and group shows and entry to the gallery will be free.
Spanning five buildings, Newport Street has been under construction for over three years and is situated close to the River Thames and a short walk from Tate Britain.
Designed by architects Caruso St John, Newport Street Gallery spans 37,000 square feet, which includes a restaurant and shop. Its construction has involved the conversion of three listed Victorian buildings, which were purpose-built in 1913 to serve as scenery painting studios for the booming local and West End theatre industries.
After being bombed during World War Two, one of the galleries was rebuilt as a barrowmaking workshop that supplied London’s flower-sellers. Two new additional buildings have been constructed at either end of the existing three, creating a gallery that spans half the length of the street. One of the central galleries has a height of 11 metres and the roof of the tallest building has been specifically designed to allow for the installation of large sculptures.
The gallery, which overlooks the railway leading into Waterloo Station, offers striking views from both the street and passing trains. A large LED screen has been erected on the building’s façade – where theatre production posters once hung – which will offer a unique means of displaying exhibition information, as well as providing a platform for artists’ projects and interventions.
‘Power Stations’ by John Hoyland
The inaugural show will be ‘Power Stations’, a solo exhibition of paintings by John Hoyland (1934–2011). Considered one of the greatest British abstract painters of his generation, Hoyland has previously been the subject of retrospectives at the Serpentine Gallery (1979–80) and the Royal Academy of Arts (1999). This will be the first major exhibition devoted to the artist since 2006, and will include paintings dating from 1964 to 1982, from Hirst’s collection. The exhibition will span all six of Newport Street’s galleries and will be on display from 8th October 2015 until 3rd April 2016.
On the opening of the gallery, Hirst states: “I’ve always loved art and art deserves to be shown in great spaces, so I’ve always dreamed of having my own gallery where I can exhibit work by the artists I love. I believe art should be experienced by as many people as possible and I’ve felt guilty owning work that is stored away in boxes where no one can see it, so having a space where I can put on shows from the collection is a dream come true. Sometimes I still can’t believe that I’m lucky enough to actually own work by some of the artists who first inspired me and made me want to become an artist – like Picasso or Francis Bacon – but my favourite works by far are those by my contemporaries, and I definitely feel a responsibility to share them as much as I can. Newport Street is an incredible space with an amazing sense of history, and it’s a fantastic opportunity for me to wear a curatorial hat for a change, I couldn’t be happier.”
Hirst’s interest in curating dates back to the beginning of his artistic career and his organisation of the groundbreaking ‘Freeze’ exhibition in south London in 1988. At Newport Street Gallery, he will present exhibitions from the Murderme collection, which Hirst has been building since the late 1980s. In addition to Hoyland, the collection includes works by Francis Bacon, Banksy, Tracey Emin, Richard Hamilton, Jeff Koons, Sarah Lucas, Pablo Picasso, Richard Prince, Haim Steinbach and Gavin Turk, as well as a number of young and emerging artists. It also features indigenous artists from the Pacific Northwest Coast, including Reg Davidson, Robert Davidson, James Hart and Don Yeomans, as well as natural history specimens, taxidermy, anatomical models and historical artefacts. The collection has previously been the subject of major group exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery, London (2006) and the Pinacoteca Agnelli, Turin (2013).