Goldsmiths alumnus and internationally famous artist Damien Hirst became the latest person to receive a gold Blue Peter badge on Thursday.
The startlingly wealthy artist was interviewed at a Covent Garden event inviting children to make their own ‘spin paintings’.
He told presenter Michelle Ackerley that he liked the distinctive technique because “it always looks great” and anyone can do it.
Hirst said: “I’ve always thought that a great reaction to art is ‘wow’! And with spin art, you always get ‘wow’.
“Any kid can make them, any age, and then you can give them to your parents or give them to your friend and people appreciate them and put them on the wall.”
The technique involves dribbling paint onto a board which is then spun at high speed to produce a centrifugal force which drives the paint to the edges of the canvas. A giant version in the colours of the Union Jack formed part of the Olympic closing ceremony.
Hirst, who attended Goldsmiths between 1986 and 1989, received the coveted award “for becoming one of the word’s most acclaimed artists and for keeping Britain at the forefront of modern art”.
He said he first got the idea from watching former presenter John Noakes demonstrate it on Blue Peter 37 years ago.
In 1975, Noakes grinned at the camera and said: “Now then, if you like to paint, but you’re one of those people who never really knows what to draw, I’ve got the perfect thing for you.
“If I put some blobs of paint on here, the whole lot then spins round, and you will get a Noakes masterpiece. Eee, that’s rather nice, innit? That’s super!”
The controversial conceptual artist told a story about staring at a blank canvas back in 1992 and not knowing what to do. Then he thought of Noakes.
Hirst said: “I thought, if you make art like that, it always looks great, and you don’t need to work out what you’re doing.”
His three top tips were a mixture of the encouraging and the practical. “First, you’ve just got to believe you can do it. Second tip would be to wet the paper first so the paint flows really easily and it always looks better.
“The last tip is, you’ve got to know when to stop, and if you think it might be finished, it is finished. Stop, because if you put on a bit more paint you can ruin it.”
Hirst’s work has been criticised as derivative, banal and over-priced by critics from the Evening Standard’s Brian Sewell to government veteran Norman Tebbit.
In 1999, the Daily Mail wrote: “For 1,000 years art has been one of our great civilising forces. Today, pickled sheep and soiled beds threaten to make barbarians of us all.”
“Bling or what!” exclaimed Ackerley of ‘For The Love of God’, a diamond-encrusted platinum skull that cost £14m to make.
A retrospective of Hirst’s work is on show at the Tate Modern on south bank until September 9. Click here to find out more.