Damien Hirst is due to open his new restaurant in his Newport Gallery in Vauxhall soon. The new establishment is to be called Pharmacy2 and will be a continuation of his former restaurant Pharmacy, which he closed in 2003. Together with the very talented chef Mark Hix, they are combining artwork with fantastic food.
Opening on the 23rd of February 2016, the theme of the restaurant is based on previous works by the artist himself. The interior of the restaurant is inspired by his great works “Pharmacy” and “Butterfly Kaleidoscope”, combining a clinical environment with nature.
“I can’t understand why most people believe in medicine and don’t believe in art, without questioning either”
The painted windows seem to have been designed and drawn to look like DNA strands, possibly to remind us that we are all as natural as butterflies? The shelves that will be holding the tablet boxes and medication packaging are also the original shelves used in his “Pharmacy” works, emphasizing the continuation of the restaurant.
The “continuation” process, rather than stating that it is a new restaurant, could also be seen as Hirst relating this to how humans rely on modern day medicine to continue their lives and an awareness of how dependent on medication we’ve become. It wouldn’t be art without a powerful message!
Comparing his works to an artist, Hix has also explained that his menu will be as artistic as the displays in the restaurant itself, keeping the menu as fresh and creative as the works themselves:
“It'll be a weekly changing menu, I work a bit like an artist in that sense—what's a good idea one minute is not necessarily a good idea the following day."
The plain, subtle use of colour and the low lighting allows the diners to free their minds and assess their surroundings, giving them the ability to take in whatever message they can get from the displays. Colour is created by the medication packaging and the furniture, which has also been designed around drug tablets. The barstool seats are styled to tablets and there are capsules on the seat pads around the dining area. The bar façade is surrounded by a colourful display of tablets (which look very similar to fancy jelly beans) and even the walls are subtly covered in various medication types.
The combination of nature and medication show us how we as humans, can take things for granted, forgetting that we are as natural as any other species on this planet. Usually fascinated by “death”, Hirst seems to have integrated a fascination of life and survival into this restaurant, allowing us to realise how far we have come with medical science, but the use of nature does remind us of our mortality.
It sounds like the dining experience in this restaurant will be like having a high class meal with great drinks and a side of hidden, powerful messages… The more I am looking into and writing about this restaurant, the more fascinated I become!
"Pharmacy 2 combines two of my greatest passions; art and food"
Could not have not agreed with Hirst more…!