On a quiet block in south London, a legacy of industrious creativity stretches back to the Victorian era. A theater scenographer worked here, painting theatre sets. As did a flower wheelbarrow maker. And most recently, artist Damien Hirst. But as of Thursday, Hirst has reopened the row of studios as a public exhibition space of his vast art collection of some 3,000 artworks by the likes of Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and Tracey Emin. “I’ve felt guilty owning work that is stored away in boxes where no one can see it,” he said (in the New York Times’ T Magazine) of the £25 million transformation of the space by London-based architecture firm Caruso St John (the design genius behind the Tate Britain). The stairwells epitomize the firm’s virtuosity.
Free to visit, Newport Street Gallery presents Hirst’s collection in solo and group shows spanning six spacious galleries with cathedral ceilings. Beyond contemporary masterworks, the gallery displays quirky aspects of Hirst’s collection including a taxidermy tableau of kittens having tea. Nary a formaldehyde shark in sight.