Tramshed is an example of what can happen when two creative minds come together. One is Mark Hix, the British restaurateur with seven venues in London, including Hix Oyster & Chop House, HIX and Mark’s Bar. The other is the internationally acclaimed artist and curator Damien Hirst, arguably, the most prominent artist to have emerged from the YBAs scene of the ’90s.
In 2011, Mark commissioned Damien to create a piece of art that would “hang” in his new restaurant, Tramshed. The brief was to create a piece that would represent the space and the menu: simple and pared back of unnecessary frivolities that distract from the central attraction: the food.
The result? The Cock & Bull installation, which closely resembles and uses the same artistic techniques as Damien’s famous Mother and Child, Divided sculpture.
Cock & Bull is suspended above the restaurant, bringing the story of Tramshed’s menu to life (almost), with a cow and cock immersed in formaldehyde. The piece stands on a plinth in the middle of the room overlooking diners as they tuck into their steak and chicken – the only choices on Tramshed’s menu.
Damien’s work explores life, death, birth and the nature of existence. A theme represented in Mother and Child, Divided, which saw Damien recognised with the Turner Prize in 1995. Mother and Child, Divided is made up of four glass-walled tanks. Two of the four tanks contain two halves of a calf and the other, slightly larger, tanks contain two halves of a cow. The tanks are positioned in pairs, with the two halves of the calf in front of the two halves of the mother.
Mark’s straightforward philosophy to food is reflected in the design of the restaurant—a magnificent building designed by Vincent Harris, in 1905, as an electricity generating space for the tramway system—with its original tiled walls, steel beams and a concrete floor all remain intact.
Mark’s simplistic approach to Tramshed continues with the furnishings, too. Bare wooden tables and a long, low-key, dining-cum-bar style bench fill the room, without detracting from the personality of the building. The height of the building allows for a mezzanine refectory area, which overlooks the dining space below, while a snug cocktail bar sits behind the main dining room.
Mark’s love of art continues in the basement of Tramshed where he has opened a gallery called Cock ‘n’ Bull. The gallery features a rotating exhibition and a curated library by Claire de Rouen.