Verity - The Colossus of Ilfracombe

Hirst Scores

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. If you were hitherto unimpressed by the work of artist Damien Hirst, and considered his work little more than aseptic marketing activity designed to push brand Hirst, then I would suggest a trip to the Devonshire seaside town of Ilfracombe.

Tweedy's tweed-clad gang took a detour there recently — cream tea cravings — and the fact is we were quite thrilled by the statue created by Hirst that has been installed on Ilfracombe harbour-side.

Called Verity, the statue is the tallest in the UK; and it is awesome in the truest sense of the word. When the gang took a stroll to the harbour, we weren't quite prepared for the size of the thing. It is huge, and impresses like the Colossus at Rhodes surely would have done.

The statue is cast from stainless steel and bronze by Pangolin Editions. Pregnant and holding a sword aloft, Verity looks out from the harbour towards the sea. One half of the body — closest to the sea — has the skin stripped back to reveal her anatomy — which I suppose is a bit of a macabre Hirst flourish. One of our troupe nearly dropped their cockles at the sight from that side.

What's Hirst's connection with the town? Hirst lives nearby and has a restaurant there.

Reception to the installation of the statue has been mixed by the townsfolk. They have the statue on loan for 20 years. They must embrace it and not let go of it. In 20 years it will become part of the fabric of the town.

Parts of Ilfracombe are a little run down, particularly the main high street. But around the harbour, with the Pier Brewery Tap & Grill pub, cafes and galleries, you see signs of this picturesque Victorian town being reinvigorated.

Outward-looking Verity shows the way forward. The campaign to keep the statue on the harbour begins here.


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