Damien Hirst’s ‘Verity:’ An Allegory of Truth and Justice, or Tacky and Tasteless?

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Anyone walking along the seafront in the North Devon town of Ilfracombe on Wednesday morning might have been expecting to see the typical crashing waves, pebbly beaches and a few cliffs. But as well as all that, the public were greeted with the sight of Damien Hirst’s 66ft, knocked-up answer to The Statue of Liberty.

Hirst’s statue, intended to be a “modern allegory of truth and justice,” takes the form of a naked, pregnant woman brandishing a sword and balancing on a stack of law books, looking out across the sea. One half of the figure lacks any skin, giving people an uninhibited look into her swollen tummy to see the unborn foetus and of course, all the muscles and bones.

As usual, when it comes to Hirst’s work there is division of opinion and a fair share of controversy. Many people think the statue is tacky, tasteless and pity the residents of Ilfracombe who have to live alongside the loaned statue for the next 20 years. Local boatman Paul Barbeary simply thinks it’s “in completely the wrong place,” whereas some have far stronger objections calling the piece “grotesque, disrespectful…and a monstrosity.”

Personally, I agree with the view that the statue is a bit of tat. I think the fact that it’s installed in a car park says it all really.

 Supporters of ‘Verity’ say that her charms have already attracted an astonishing number of visitors and tourists, which has had a  positive impact on local restaurants and cafes. Evidently, the tourists are going for a spot of lunch (if they can stomach it) after a lovely morning of looking into the depths of a pregnant stomach.

Generally, what the ‘Verity’ supporters are saying is: love it or hate it, it’s an attraction which can only have a positive effect on the area and get people talking about art.

Personally, I agree with the view that the statue is a bit of tat. I think the fact that it’s installed in a car park says it all really. The whole concept of it representing truth and justice seems as if it’s been plucked from the air and, to me it just seems like a cheap, shameless rip off of The Statue of Liberty, except it’s in a quiet Devonshire town not doing a lot.

 

 

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