Damien Hirst’s reputation for being money-driven and ostentatious may be further from the mark than we thought: the artist is planning to plough some of his fortune into building 500 new eco-homes in North Devon.
The plans aim to regenerate the area Hirst lives in and set a blueprint for environmental housing across the UK.
If his bid is successful, building work could begin as early as next year at Winsham Farm, an area of land in Ilfracombe the mega rich artist already owns roughly 40% of.
The plans were announced at a local meeting last week by Hirst’s representatives.
According to thisisnorthdevon.co.uk, Mike Rundell, Hirst’s architect, told the gathered councillors and interested parties that Hirst “is a local developer. He lives locally, shops locally, owns local businesses and his children go to local schools.”
He added that Hirst is “horrified” by “anonymous, lifeless buildings” and wants the new development to be “the kind of homes he would want to live in."
The announcement comes in what is already a big year for Britain’s most famous artist.
His opinion-splitting Spot Paintings are currently the subject of a bizarre, world-wide exhibition – something that seems at odds with his commitment to the environmental. After all, he offered an original print to anyone rich enough to clock up the air miles required to visit each show.
Then next month he is the subject of a major retrospective at the Tate Modern – a blockbuster art show occurring in the year of blockbuster art shows when he will be competing with everyone from Lucian Freud to David Hockney to that original spot painter, Yayoi Kusama.
Residents of Ilfracombe would be forgiven for greeting the news of Hirst’s plan to transform their town with a certain amount of trepidation.
After all, what would a ‘home Hirst wants to live in’ look like? Multi-coloured spot exteriors and diamond-encrusted front doors anyone?