Damien Hirst’s 1994 sculpture Away From The Flock features a preserved lamb in a tank of formaldehyde. The title references the idea of leaving behind the protection of the church in Christianity, while Hirst sees it as a self-portrait celebrating artistic individuality. This artwork reflects on themes of life and death, and the tragic fate of attempts to preserve living things.
Hirst often uses animals preserved in tanks as metaphors for religious themes in his art. For instance, he created XII Disciples where twelve sheep heads were displayed on pedestals, referring to Christ’s apostles. In Away From The Flock, Hirst presents us with an image that appears calm and soothing at first glance but carries dark undertones. He immortalizes a creature which is conventionally associated with purity and innocence but has its last breath trapped within the confines of its glass chamber.
In addition to being an incredibly poignant commentary on preservation and mortality alike, this piece also drew attention when it was vandalized by fellow artist Mark Bridger. Hirst later sued Bridger for damages caused by his unauthorized manipulation of this work. Overall, Away From The Flock remains prominent among art critics and enthusiasts alike for its powerful messaging and skillful execution.