Who would have thought that bugs could once replace gems on bags? Together with Miuccia Prada, Damien Hirst made it possible, by designing two “insect-studded” women’s handbags, inspired by his Entomology paintings, and adorned with chunky bugs and precious stones encased in Plexiglas.
Earlier this Summer, Hirst collaborated with Alexander McQueen, for limited edition scarves, inspired by the same Entomology paintings, and has now pursued his work on this topic with Miuccia Prada. Only 20 of the new Entomology bags have been produced and several were sold via silent auction on October 9th and 10th with proceeds benefiting the non-profit organization Reach Out To Asia.
The collaboration also marks the exhibition “Relics”, a major retrospective, spanning over 27 years of Hirst’s career, held in the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA), more precisely at the Alriwaq Doha exhibition space. “Relics” kicked off on October 9th, and is not only the artist’s first solo show in the Middle East, but also his largest exhibition so far. Hirst’s retrospective will be on display until January 2014, and includes his iconic diamond skulls, ‘For the Love of God’ (2007), and ‘For Heaven’s Sake’ (2008), next to his reputed ‘Natural History’ series of animals preserved in formaldehyde, and his ‘Medicine Cabinets’. For the occasion, the artist wrapped the entire Alriwaq exhibition space in his signature spot design.
The remaining insect-bags are sold at the Italian brand’s recently launched Prada Oasis, featuring Damien Hirst’s Pharmacy Juice Bar, in the northern desert of Doha, Qatar. This Prada Marfa resembling collaboration – think a shop in the middle of the desert, where fashion meets internationally reputed artists – was initiated in collaboration with Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani, Chairperson of the QMA.
While the new Prada Oasis displays the Entomology bags inside abayat shaar, a traditional tent made of sheep wool and adorned with velvet cushioning, the Juice Bar is an Arab inspired spin-off of Hirst’s “Pharmacy” restaurant and bar installation, opened in 1998 in London and closed in 2004, after an auction of its content via Sotheby’s.
Finally, Qatar-based artists are also invited to participate in the ‘Damien Hirst Challenge’, a competition based on the creation of apiece of art, inspired by Hirst. The prize is a trip to London to tour one of Damien Hirst’s studios, meet the artist, and help create one of his famous spin paintings.