Chancel is an etching from Damien Hirst’s Sanctum series from 2009. The print shows an array of butterfly wings arranged in an intricate kaleidoscopic pattern. Depicted in varying shades of blue, this print is perfectly symmetrical, formed by a vertical line cutting through the centre of image. The print exudes a kinetic energy that is exciting and mesmerising to look at.
The Sanctum series is reminiscent of Hirst’s first kaleidoscopic painting It’s a Wonderful World, created in 2001. This earlier work was inspired by a Victorian tea tray found by Hirst and much like the Sanctum series was made by placing thousands of different coloured butterfly wings in complex geometric patterns. In both It’s a Wonderful World and Chancel, the butterfly wings are rendered unrecognisable when viewed at a distance and as part of a larger intricate pattern.
Hirst’s prints in the Sanctum series are reminiscent of stained glass windows in Gothic architecture and the circular patterns of mandalas. The motif of the butterfly has been used by the Greeks to depict Psyche, the soul, and in Christian imagery represents resurrection. Indeed, the titles of the prints in this series, such as Chancel, include architectural features of Christian church buildings, reflecting Hirst’s fascination with spirituality and the human psyche.