Thursday, 18 October 2012

Damien Hirst's 'Verity'

It's 66 foot tall.

It weighs 25 tons.

It's made of bronze.

It's a naked pregnant woman waving a sword with half her skin stripped away.

Yes, there's nothing that says 'Welcome to Ilfracombe' better than a 66 foot tall partially-flayed sword-waving pregnant woman with her baby hanging out of her.

Getty Images/Toby Melville

Getty Images

Meet Verity, Damien Hirst's present to the sleepy seaside town of Ilfracombe in Devon, where she'll wave her sword on the harbour-front for the next 20 years.

The art history term for this sort of thing is an 'ecorche' - a flayed body showing the muscles underneath.  It's nothing new - here's one life sized, carved in marble in the 16th century....

Écorché, by Ligier Richier (1500 - 1567)

Hirst's is based on the pose of Degas' bronze 'Little Dancer Aged Fourteen Years' (1881), which was also life size.  Not 66 foot tall.

Hirst lives in Combe Martin nearby and owns properties and a restaurant in Ilfracombe, so Verity is a big thank you to the good people of the town.  

And let's face it, what could be more appropriate?  I'm sure this will be on a jolly seaside postcard very soon, just as soon as a seagull lands on her head.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

And guess what overlooks the harbour with the best view of the statue that's been loaned to Ilfracombe for 20 years, creating lots of publicity and bringing in lots of tourists? 

It's The Quay Restaurant (mixed reviews on Tripadvisor).  Which is owned by Damien Hirst.  And is full of Hirst art.  And now has sneakily extended its exhibition/promotion space to take in the harbour as well.  

See what he did there?

Ah, Damien.  I salute you.


  1. its horrible

  2. It is fascinating, not horrible. It depicts the visible and the hidden, which is what we look for with justice. Together these can produce produce beauty and renewal, while separately these same two aspects can bring horror and ugliness.

  3. I have family in North Devon and have been visiting the area for more than fifty years.
    This is the ugliest and worst placed thing I have ever seen in ND.
    What does it have to do with Ilfracombe? It has completely spoiled the view and the whole harbour.
    Does D. Hurst really need more publicity and if so why do the people of Ilfracombe have to pay the price?
    And while we're at it....Rick Stein............NO, GO AWAY!

    1. Well, that's very interesting - I haven't seen it myself, I have to confess, but if I go to a seaside town I want to see the sea and the town.

      I actually find the statue actually quite an upsetting image, and I'm sure other people must. So I completely understand your comments, especially as it must be really hard to avoid seeing it in Ilfracombe.