Thursday, 3 December 2009


On Wednesday I overcame my reluctance and went to see Damien Hirst's installation Pharmacy at the Baltic. I don't like what Hirst does but thought it unfair to condemn a piece of work without actually seeing it. So I met up with my old mate John and after looking at the entertaining photographs in the Martin Parr exhibition, we walked into the room containing Pharmacy.

It didn't make me angry. It didn't make me curious. I didn't laugh. I didn't sneer. I was completely unmoved. The least I expect of an artwork is that it should provoke some emotion, however slight, and this did absolutely nothing.

Sorry, Damien: must try harder. Why not take up painting? No, wait .....


christopher said...

Mr Bell, i apologize if this is not the appropriate place for this, but i cannot find an email address, and need to tell you i would like to use a drawing of yours to illustrate an article i have written, viewable here:
the article is not for commercial resale, and i do not seek to profit from your work. i enjoy and respect what you do and would not use it without your permission.
the illustration is linked to your blog, and the caption reads "artist - Harry Bell"
please contact me if you have concerns or condemnations,
thank you,
christopher schmidt (

harry bell said...

Christopher --

I've replied to you separately on this.

April Jarocka said...

Interesting post. I believe it's not art if it doesn't invoke some response which it didn't with you so it obviously wasn't art..then again I wasn't there myself so I think I'll just be quiet and go back to

harry bell said...

Under current doctrine I'm not able to say it isn't art, because Damien says it's art and he's an artist. But I can say that I think it's bad art.

Kevin said...


Don't disagree with you on the Hirst thing at all. The one modest feeling it did arouse in me though was curiosity. I have never wandered around pharmacy shelves before - for obvious reasons there are not accessible to the genpub - but I was interested from a professional standpoint. So far as I could see, the exhibits were all genuine pharmaceuticals, though I was curious to note that all were US Rx Pharmaceuticals - many of which are likely illegal in this country. Now I guess that these were empty boxes - otherwise he could be in trouble. As I discovered in my wok life - you simply cannot import unapproved foreign pharmaceuticals- except personal medicine.

I wonder then, unless h is a very sick man, that this exhibit might be technically illegal.


harry bell said...

Kev -- Sometimes I think he is a very sick man, but then I look at how much he makes. I should be so sick.