If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to divide opinion, you could do no better than to “borrow” a Damien Hirst sculpture! This is precisely what the seaside town of Ilfracombe, Devon has done by accepting his controversial statue, Verity, a pregnant woman wielding a sword, on loan for the next 20 years.
Verity, described by Hirst as a ‘modern allegory of truth and justice’, carries the scales of justice and is standing on a plinth of law books. The naked pregnant figure holds a sword and has part of her anatomy exposed – a baby clearly visible in the womb. She stands at 20.25m from plinth to sword tip, is slightly taller than the Angel of the North and weighs more than 25 tonnes.
Why Ilfracombe? Well apparently Hirst lives in the town and also owns a restaurant there so presumably he wants it close by. In addition he probably thought that the town already had a controversial structure in the Landmark Theatre [which is known locally as “Madonna’s Bra”, a reference to its shape], so why not have another one to really make it a place to talk about?
Personally I quite like the smooth side of the statue but find the exposed side somewhat disturbing, but I guess that was the artist’s intention?
There are many locals who regret the decision of Ilfracombe town planners over the years to pull down Victorian buildings and to replace them with modern structures that don’t fit with the character of the town. The Landmark, which – from a distance – looks much like the cooling towers of a power station, and now this latest addition, represent this unfortunate inclination.