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Art & Design

Damien Hirst


The large-scale bronze sculpture is part of Damien Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable series, first exhibited at the 2017 Venice Biennale.

Standing at just over eighteen metres, this monumental figure is a copy of a smaller bronze recovered from the wreckage. The discovery of the body appeared to solve the mystery of a disembodied bronze head with saurian features excavated in the Tigris Valley in 1932. Characterised by monstrous gaping jaws and bulbous eyes, the head was initially identified as Pazuzu, the Babylonian ‘king of the wind demons’. The unearthing of this figure has since called this identification into question, due to the absence of Pazuzu’s customary attributes of wings, scorpion tail and snake-headed penis.

Ancient Mesopotamian demons were complex primeval creatures that inhabited an intermediary realm between the human, animal and divine. Embodying a transgressive response to rigid social structures, these hybrid beings could be variously apotropaic, benign and malevolent. The supposition that the bowl held in the demon’s outstretched arm was a vessel used for collecting human blood conforms to the misapprehension that demons were universally destructive beings. This figure more likely served as a guardian to the home of an elite personage.

See the sculpture for yourself. Demon with Bowl is located along Olympian Way, next to the IFS Cloud Cable Cars.