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The Souls on Jacobs Ladder take their flight‘ is one of Damien Hirst’s most iconic series of works.
Butterflies first featured in Hirst’s work at his first solo show ‘In and Out of Love‘ 1991. Since then the motif has become synonymous with the Artist and features in some of his most famous series of works. This piece deviates from the usual formula of placing natural butterflies in stylised patterns across the canvas to recall stained glass windows and light filled cathedrals. Here, the viewer is confronted with a huge butterfly set against a dark and sombre background which epitomises the artists ongoing concerns with the themes of human existence (death, beauty, science and religion)
‘The title of the series stems from an episode in the life of Jacob, the biblical patriarch. The Book of Genesis relates a story where Jacob, whilst fleeing from his brother Esau, has a vision of a ladder extending from earth to heaven with angels ascending and descending. One allegorical interpretation of this story sees the angels as representing souls. Despite imbuing the series with religious connotations, Hirst also establishes a sense of doubt and disbelief through the title, that has the souls escaping, taking flight.’
(Charles Booth-Clibborn, Contemporary Art in Print: The publications of Charles Booth-Clibborn and his imprint The Paragon Press, 2006-2010, pp. 323-324)
This work is now available to view and purchase here in the Gallery, please contact us for more information or view online.


Charles Gilmore Gallery
1 Lanyon Quay
Oxford Street

+44 (0)28 90311666

We are situated at Lanyon Quay, fronting Oxford Street, opposite the Belfast Law Courts and a two minute walk from Victoria Square.

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Friday 10am – 4pm
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