About this artwork
With this work Hirst is forcing us to focus on the humble sheep, an animal that has been providing us with food and warmth for centuries, transforming it from the mundane into something special. Its title, ‘Away from the Flock’, is a term we associate with religion, specifically Christianity, – "to leave the flock" is to leave behind the protection of the church. Hirst draws on precedents in earlier British art. In a famous painting by Holman Hunt, called ‘Our English Coasts’ or ‘Strayed Sheep’ 1852, the pre-Raphaelite artist shows straying sheep putting themselves at danger on the cliffs of southern England – a clear reference to religious decay. Although obviously dead and pickled in formaldehyde, the sheep in Hirst’s work looks oblivious to its fate and seems to be prancing with life.
- title: Away from the Flock
- accession number: AR00499
- artist: Damien HirstEnglish (born 1965)
- gallery: In Storage
- object type: Sculpture
- subject: Animals Young British Artists (YBA's)
- materials: Glass, stainless steel, Perspex, acrylic paint, lamb and formaldehyde solution
- date created: 1994
- measurements: 96.00 x 149.00 x 51.00 cm
- credit line: ARTIST ROOMS National Galleries of Scotland and Tate. Acquired jointly through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008
- copyright: © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2016.
Hirst was born in Bristol and grew up in Leeds, moving to London in 1986 to study at Goldsmith's College. While still a student, he organised the enormously successful 'Freeze' exhibition, which featured his own work as well as that of fellow students. This brought him to the attention of the highly influential art collector Charles Saatchi and is generally seen as the starting point for the 'Young British Artists' movement. The central theme of Hirst's work is mortality. He is best known for the 'Natural History' series of works, in which dead animals are preserved in tanks. He is also interested in medical paraphernalia and has produced series of spot paintings, spin paintings and steel and glass cases.