Hirst's pickled sheep is turned into a black joke

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The Independent Online
A black face sheep pickled in formaldehyde and suspended in a glass tank - the latest sculpture by Damien Hirst, enfant terrible of the art world - was given new meaning yesterday when a visitor to the Serpentine Gallery in London poured black ink into the tank and altered the caption to read 'Black Sheep'.

The motive was unclear: animal rights activists seemed a possibility. After all, they are thought to have commented on Mr Hirst's work before: when his tiger shark preserved in formaldehyde and a rotting cow's head infested with maggots were shown at the Saatchi Collection in London, admittedly along with other works, someone left unnaturally large amounts of 'dog mess' outside the gallery.

Michael Grieve, a freelance photographer at the Serpentine as the vandalism was discovered, said: 'Someone had put black ink into the container. It went completely black. You could see the sheep

disappear. There were a lot of visitors there. Everyone was bewildered and highly amused. People were laughing.'

Jay Jopling, the artist's dealer, said: 'The top piece was not sealed. You don't expect that to happen.'

Julia Peyton-Jones, the gallery's director, thought the sculpture was not beyond repair.

The collector, who bought it for some pounds 25,000, has been told.

Andrew Graham-Dixon, page 25