Verity of Ilfracombe, Devon

There are dozens of reasons I love Ilfracombe. And one I don’t. Her name is Verity and I don’t miss her one bit.

After arriving in Ilfracombe, we went for a walk down the harbour. It was already dark outside but the lights and lanterns lit up the boats and buildings, creating a postcard-like view.

The one thing we couldn’t see almost at all was the town’s landmark – a sculpture of a woman with a sword on a pile of law books – Verity. This stainless steel and bronze statue created by Damien Hirst looks over the Bristol Channel and, according to the author, represents “modern allegory of truth and justice.”

Initially, I fully embraced such a great idea for a landmark – promoting women, women’s strength and on such a big scale, all for it. I was also hoping it might resembling my favourite Nike in Warsaw. At night, I could only tell Verity was very tall, though.

I saw her in full detail the next day. She was huge as if really there to look after the town. She held a sword, looking brave and majestic. Powerful. And really awful. I was shocked by how much I disliked her. It’s not that it was boring or – in my ignorant opinion – bad. It certainly evokes emotions. Mine were just not of the positive kind. I was disturbed, to say the least. Verity is sort of cut it half vertically, so one side is standard while the other lets you, erm, admire her anatomy. And she’s pregnant so you can also see the fetus. I am no expert, I admit I might have missed its true greatness and meaning, and I appreciate art is not always all butterflies and rainbows, but dear me, no.

It didn’t come as a surprise to me to find out that Verity is the Marmite of Ilfracombe – some love her, some hate her. You know which team I’d back. To me, the only good news about Verity is that she is only loaned to Ilfracombe for 20 years. Only another xx to go.

What I’m also wary of is that I have just written an entire blog post about her. I might not have liked Verity but she somehow stuck in my memory. If the idea behind the statue wasn’t to please, but to evoke emotions of any kind at all, then well done, Mr Hirst.



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