Damien Hirst planning to open public gallery following London 2012 Festival exhibition

A major Damien Hirst retrospective at the Tate Modern this year promises to be a highlight of the cultural calendar and is likely to see art lovers from all over the UK come to central London hotels in order to get a chance to see the exhibition.

The event is being held as part of the London 2012 Festival – the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad being held to celebrate London’s hosting of the Olympic Games this summer.

But Hirst has now revealed plans to leave a more permanent mark on London’s art gallery scene, by opening his own public gallery in the city.

Speaking to the Observer, the artist announced that he hopes the gallery will open in south London by 2014 and said it will showcase his own extensive collection of more than 2,000 modern and contemporary artworks.

“It’s my Saatchi gallery, basically,” Hirst told the newspaper.

“It’s about as big as the Whitechapel – six galleries, a cafe and a shop – and it’s a place to show my collection of contemporary art. It feels bad having it all in crates. It’s basically Bacon and beyond.”

Hirst added that he owns five paintings by the late Francis Bacon. “Which is great. He didn’t make many and he’s not making any more.”

The gallery is to be built in the London borough of Lambeth and will be housed inside a long terrace of listed buildings, formerly used as theatre carpentry and scenery production workshops, as well as incorporating new structures.

Designed by New Art Gallery Walsall architect Caruso St John for Hirst’s company Science Ltd, the ground and upper floors of the listed buildings will be linked to allow the space to be used for both small and large exhibitions, while the plans also include office rooms and a restaurant.

Meanwhile, the Tate Modern’s Hirst retrospective will run from April 4th to September 9th.

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