Horror at Home, 1995



Horror at Home
699 x 2438 x 2438 mm | 27.5 x 96 x 96 in
Painted fibreglass, cigarettes, cigarette packaging, tobacco packaging, cigarette papers, matches, tissues, sweet wrappings, crisp packets, swizzle sticks, drug paraphernalia, paper and ash
Image: Photographed by Stephen White © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2012


Solo Exhibition - 2013
ALRIWAQ, Qatar Museums Authority, Doha, Qatar
Solo Exhibition - 2009
PinchukArtCentre, Kiev, Ukraine
Solo Exhibition - 2004
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Naples, Italy
Solo Exhibition - 2003
The Saatchi Gallery, London, United Kingdom


“I think an ashtray is the most fantastically real thing.”[1] 

Between 1995 and 1997, Hirst made four ashtray sculptures: ‘Horror at Home’; ‘Crematorium’; ‘Necropolis’; and ‘Party Time’. ‘Party Time’ (1995) was the first to be exhibited, in ‘No Sense of Absolute Corruption’ at Gagosian Gallery, New York, in 1996, whilst ‘Horror at Home’ was included in Hirst’s major solo show at The Saatchi Gallery in 2003. Explaining that artists “make art from what’s around them”, the sculptures magnify an ashtray to a diameter of eight feet. Each sculpture has one, two, three or four cigarette rests. The works contains over fifteen bin bags of remnants collected from the ashtrays of The Groucho Club, the London club Hirst frequented in the 1990s. 

The ashtray sculptures emerged after Hirst witnessed human’s futile attempts to “reduce the horror” of smoking. He relates the absurdity of going to the beautiful house of a wealthy friend and finding a “tiny little ashtray ... you could only fit about three cigarette butts in it, then they’d empty it”.[2]

Cigarettes are a recurring feature in Hirst’s work. He explains their appeal: “The whole smoking thing is like a mini life cycle. For me, the cigarette can stand for life. The packet with its possible cigarettes stands for birth, the lighter can signify God, which gives life to the whole situation, the Ashtray represents death […] being metaphorical is ridiculous, but it’s unavoidable.”[3] 

The titles of ‘Party Time’ (1995) and ‘Crematorium’ (1996), are symbolic of the life and death inherent within smoking. The artist explains: “I always believe in contradiction, compromise, it’s unavoidable. In life it can be positive or negative, like saying, ‘I can’t live without you.’”[4]


[1] Damien Hirst cited in ‘Conversations: Damien Hirst’ (Idler 10, 1995)

[2] ibid.

[3] Damien Hirst, ‘I Want to Spend the Rest of My Life Everywhere, with Everyone, One to One, Always, Forever, Now’, (Booth-Clibborn Editions; Reduced edition, 2005), 102

[4] ibid.