The Diary: Damien Hirst; Saatchi; Juliette Binoche; 'Hunger'

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The Independent Culture

Free Damien?

Last week's bumper £111m Damien Hirst auction at Sotheby's in London proved that the hunger for pickled tiger sharks and petrified butterflies is still strong among plutocrats. But it could now be the turn of hoi polloi to get a piece of the man. Fans have been chipping away at a new graffiti mural, which some believe to be a creation by the former YBA, on a passageway opposite the New Bond Street auction house. The five graffitied zebras wearing snornels, with cartoon voice bubbles about 'Damien', daubed on a wall in Bloomfield Place, has led aficionados to chisel away hunks of the work in the hope that it could be a public freebie by the artist. Zebra ears and hooves are disappearing at a rapid rate. The frieze has sparked fevered debate on whether it is a Hirst work, designed, in his words, to "democratise" his art. Even though Hirst's people insist it is not his, the jury is out on whether it is a Banksy in the style of Hirst, a skilful Banksy impersonator or a typically self-branding publicity stunt.


Charles Saatchi has commissioned the rock'n'roll New York artist-cum-filmmaker Julian Schnabel to curate a room filled with his own bizarre creations, as one of the highlights for his new 70,000 sq ft gallery in the Duke of York's HQ building on King's Road, Chelsea. Saatchi's new collection, following his purge of YBA works, has been one of the most closely guarded secrets in the art world. Aside from his Schnabel shrine, the contents are said to include a sculpture of St Paul's Cathedral made out of dog chews.

Silence is golden

Enda Walsh, the co-writer of Steve McQueen's award-winning film 'Hunger', about the final days of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands and out next month, has revealed a Pinteresque twist to McQueen's co-writing credit. McQueen came up with the structure, it would appear, and left the words to Walsh. McQueen added the silences – some of which stretch to nearly five minutes. Walsh, whose play 'The Walworth Farce' opened at the National this week, said the positioning of these pauses gave the script its power.

Vital ingredients

In a rare development in Anglo-French gastronomic relations, the actress Juliette Binoche, who is appearing as a dancer in Akram Khan's in-i, has taken to traditional British cuisine during her stint in London. Her assistant said she had developed a penchant for visiting Borough Market, next to London Bridge: "She follows a very healthy organic diet. Red meat for energy, carbs such as brown rice and a lot of organic fruit and veg.' So maybe we rosbifs do know our onions, after all.

That Potter magic

The artist Jeremy Deller looked star struck when he came across a woman taking a Polaroid picture of him at a recent party. After she had finished snapping him at the Serpentine Gallery do, he turned to me and said, 'I can't believe it's her?' "Who?" I said. "Her, you know, Hermione from 'Harry Potter'." It took me a few minutes to realise that our friend with the camera did bear a resemblance to the actress Emma Watson. He looked crestfallen when I told him he'd been beguiled by a body double.