Damien Hirst's Verity: hideous eyesore or boost for tourism?
Seaside town Ilfracombe divided by 65ft bronze statue of woman 'with half her foetus hanging out'
AFTER months of debate on Damien Hirst's latest artwork Verity, the 65ft statue of a pregnant woman has been hoisted upright in Iflracombe, North Devon.
The statue, which is on loan to the town for 20 years, had drawn criticism from art critics, with Jonathan Jones at The Guardian describing it as a "dangerous monstrosity" akin to "something you might have seen in Saddam Hussein's Iraq".
North Devon Council received 100 letters of objection and 177 letters of support for Verity before it passed the planning application this summer. So now it's up, what do the locals think?
One objector was Sue Dale, owner of Ilfracombe's Darnley Hotel, who told the Daily Mail that since seeing it in place she thinks it is "more hideous" than she did before.
"It isn't suitable for a Victorian seaside town," she said. "I think we'll have to live with it and hope it doesn't become an eyesore with pigeon and seagull droppings and vandalism."
Local engineer Melvyn Robinson told The Guardian he found it "grotesque". He said: "It's not my cup of tea, I prefer my art a bit more conventional. It's typical Damien Hirst, a bit Hannibal Lecter-ish. He can't help himself, can he?"
Boatman Paul Barbeary was also unconvinced. "I just think she's in completely the wrong place. What has she got to do with Ilfracombe? A mermaid would be better."
Another unnamed resident agreed, telling The Daily Telegraph: "It would be so much nicer if it was a maritime statue, rather than a woman with half her foetus hanging out."
But other residents see the controversial statue as a way to boost tourism. Mike Edmunds, councillor at North Devon Council, says that as hotels in the town are closing the statue could be a way of attracting visitors.
"Art divides people, and the one thing about Verity is that because it is so controversial it will attract people to the town," he told the Mail.
Felicity Cowley, a consultant at the Driftwood art gallery in the town, described the statue as "brilliant" and said there were a lot more visitors in town than normal for this time of year.
"Whether you like it or not," she said, "it's a phenomenon, an attraction."