sweatshop

Posted on November 22, 2008
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Hirst is an interesting, clever artist no doubt, but I have to say, this article left me feeling nauseous.  From The Guardian

“He is one of the world’s richest artists, who defied the credit crunch in September by auctioning a whole collection for £111m. But even Damien Hirst may not be immune to the economic climate – many of the workers who produce his works found themselves out of a job this week, the Guardian has learned.

On Thursday, up to 17 of the 22 people who make the pills for Hirst’s drug cabinet series were told their contracts were not being renewed, according to two sources close to Science Ltd, Hirst’s main art-producing company. Another three who make his butterfly paintings were also told they were surplus to requirements.

It is thought that amounts to approximately half of the London-based artists who work for Hirst. They are paid about £19,000 a year, sources said. In June 2007, Lullaby Spring, a cabinet filled with hand-painted pills, sold for £9.65m.

This year’s Sunday Times Rich List valued the 43-year-old artist’s wealth at £200m – but it was produced before September’s sale at Sotheby’s.

Yesterday Jude Tyrrell, a director of Science Ltd, confirmed jobs were going, but wouldn’t be drawn on how many.

“As previously stated by Damien, he is finishing a number of bodies of works which is why temporary contracts (fixed term) have not been renewed. We have to be mindful of the current economic climate and how this may affect us in the future.”

In July, Hirst said that he would stop making the spin and butterfly paintings, plus the medicine cabinets – a decision that was welcomed by many in the art world who worried about overproduction of these series.

But a source close to Science said that if the job losses were pre-planned, as indicated by Tyrrell’s statement, the staff seemed unprepared for it on Thursday. “It was unexpected, especially after Hirst made a killing from the Sotheby’s sale. The workers who will not have their contracts renewed can work their notice period into December, but I’m not sure how many will stay. They will need to find jobs quickly.”

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