An artwork by Damian Hirst has caused controversy while being erected on the pier of the Devon seaside town of Ilfracombe in the UK.
Hirst’s bronze statue is a 65-foot high, 25-ton depiction of a pregnant woman, standing and holding a sword aloft. She is naked, and viewed from her left side she appears in standard human form. The right side view, however, has her skin peeled back to reveal her muscular and skeletal structures and the foetus.
The sculpture, named Verity, was hauled into the seaside town on a flatbed trailer. It was cast in more than forty pieces and is likely to take several days to assemble and install.
Ilfracombe’s local authority believes that the statue will boost tourism and raise the town’s profile, hence its acceptance of Hirst’s offer of a 20-year loan of the artwork. However, local residents that gathered to witness Verity’s arrival were predictably critical, with the Daily Mail carrying quotes from them that included, ‘it is a monstrosity,’ it is ‘demeaning to women,’ it is ‘eccentricity posturing as art’, ‘obscene and disgusting,’ and, ‘melt it down and get Anthony Gormley to create a suitable sculpture for Ilfracombe, where families spend their holidays.’
Damian Hirst is no stranger to controversy; with the 47-year old artist having created several works of art that have been the subject of debate over the years. Foremost among these were works that included animals preserved in formaldehyde, most famously a shark and a calf. Such notoriety has only served to make him more popular with his devotees and has helped to propel him on to the Sunday Times Rich List.