Flotsam and jetsam. Photo & text David Secombe. (2/5)

The Thames, looking east from Hungerford Bridge, 2010. Photo © David Secombe.

From Tate Online : 1 May 2003:

From 23 May Tate to Tate, a new boat service on the river Thames, will be available for gallery lovers. The service, which runs every forty minutes during gallery opening hours between Tate Modern and Tate Britain, will be launched on 22 May by The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. The boat also stops at the London Eye.

The Tate to Tate boat service, operated by Thames Clippers, is a state-of-the art 220 seat catamaran with specially commissioned exterior and interior designs by leading artist Damien Hirst. The boat is sponsored by St James Homes, a property developer.

David Secombe writes:

Now that Damien Hirst is the richest artist in the world (proof if any were needed of the global success of that strange London-based phenomenon known as ‘BritArt’), it seems entirely fitting that ‘the fastest’ commercial vessel on the Thames, ferrying passengers to and from the world’s most popular – some might say populist – art gallery, bears one of his patented designs. The Tate boat is decorated with Hirst’s bright, multi-coloured dots, and travels between those twin bastions of culture, Tate Modern and Tate Britain – the former fashioned from a derelict power station, the latter built on the site of a penitentiary.

For good or ill, Hirst seems to be the artist who best embodies his time; one can’t imagine a Bacon Barge or a Rothko Raft, whereas our Damien’s spotty pleasure cruiser – made possible by a property consortium – seems completely, depressingly, apt.

(The London Column has not yet felt the siren call of the current Hirst exhibition at the Tate, but you can read a response to the Sotheby’s extravaganza of 2008 on Baroque in Hackney. For another view of Hirst and his influences, see: http://www.stuckism.com/Hirst/StoleArt.html.)