Taken from Damien Hirst’s Sanctum series from 2009, Spire is a signed etching that shows a brightly coloured kaleidoscopic pattern made up of butterfly wings. In the centre of the composition is a pink and white butterfly. The pattern surrounding the central motif is created with concentric circles and is depicted in varying shades of blue and yellow.
The titles of the Sanctum series are informed by different architectural aspects of cathedrals. This is indicative of the way that the intricate patterns of the prints reflect stained glass windows and religious iconography. Alongside the other prints in the series, Spire represents Hirst’s desire to bring together themes of science, aesthetics and religion through the leitmotif of the butterfly.
The Sanctum series is indicative of Hirst’s obsession with butterflies and every print uses hundreds of butterfly wings to form its beautiful pattern. For Hirst, the butterfly is a ‘universal trigger’ that many people share in finding attractive and joyous. Recalling someone once saying to him: “Butterflies are beautiful, but it’s a shame they have disgusting hairy bodies in the middle,” Hirst in works like this chose only to display the dazzling wings in Spire.