The Buck stopped here

The Buck stopped here is a weekly blog by our contemporary art correspondent Louisa Buck covering the hottest events and must-see exhibitions in London and beyond

Damien Hirst makes butterfly rainbow for the NHS, while Mark Titchner's uplifting posters pop-up around the UK

Damien Hirst's Butterfly Rainbow (2020) © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2020

One of the more positive by-products of the current coronavirus crisis are the drawings and paintings of rainbows that have appeared in windows of homes across the country as a hopeful symbol of support for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). Now, the British artist Damien Hirst has made his own version. Butterfly Rainbow is made up of bands of coloured butterfly wings, one of the artist’s best-known motifs and the work can be downloaded for free from Hirst’s website. “I wanted to do something to pay tribute to the wonderful work NHS staff are doing in hospitals around the country,” says Hirst, who is seeing out lockdown in his London home. “I think it is brilliant that parents and children are creating their own version and putting them up in the windows of their homes.” Hirst is also producing a limited edition of the work that will be sold with all profits donated to the NHS. Further details to be announced on his Instagram.

Although we may all be behind closed doors, artists are still finding ways to take their work out onto the streets. Especially eye catching and uplifting in these dark times are the giant billboards by Mark Titchner declaring Please Believe These Days Will Pass, which for the past week have emblazoned public sites across ten cities in the UK, including London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester and Sheffield. These have been made in collaboration with Jack Arts, the creative agency who specialise in public campaigns for galleries, theatres and festivals nationwide as well as working with artists. Titchner, who was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2006, is best known for making text works that explore various belief systems and here he has set his rallying cry for hope against a psychedelic background that he describes as “rapturous… a bit like a Turner landscape”. “I wanted it to feel super hopeful, or as far away from the mundanity of queuing to get into the supermarket or everyone crossing the road when they pass each other in the street,” he says. “It’s just really nice to be doing something while everyone’s in lockdown—it’s almost like reaching through the windows.” Now everyone can spread this spirit of optimism throughout their own homes and beyond with free downloads of Titchner’s morale boosting message