Damien Hirst’s Verity arrives in Ilfracombe, North Devon

On a rainy Sunday in October you would be forgiven for expecting the sleepy seaside resort Ilfracombe in North Devon to be pretty deserted, however despite 100 letters of objection, something new has arrived and love it or loath it, for the next 20 years you won’t be able to miss it for staring out from the harbour into the sea is the pregnant, naked and 65 feet high; Verity

For years only the dramatic cliffs dominated the view from the harbour, now Hirst’s statue who’s stance is taken from Edgar Degas’s late 19th Century ‘Little Dancer of Fourteen Years’, cast in bronze, weighing 25 tonne and with exposed womb has become something of a talking point. Some calling it grotesque others beautiful whilst one thing for sure is that cafes, shops and businesses normally closing at the end of a long Summer season are now packed to the rafters with eager tourists desperate to see the new attraction. One such place is Hirst’s own ‘The Quay’ Restaurant where we dined in a room overlooking the harbour. The interesting decor features a full size medicine cabinet and Hirst’s own design of wallpaper featuring tablets labelled  with books from the bible. A possible throw back from his less successful restaurant involvement ‘Pharmacy‘ which, located in Notting Hill closed in 2003. The food in the restaurant was exquisite and surprisingly reasonably priced.

Time will tell whether Hirst’s latest creation will win over the critics and how the elements will affect Verity, also whether next season the seagulls will find use in her exposed innards for nesting but people will remain talking about this inspiring figure for a long time to come. The hope is that her presence will also help regenerate the area.  We stayed at nearby fantastic  ‘Marine Court Hotel’ on Hillsborough Road,  a small, friendly establishment, who, complete with at least one room offering a view of Verity are currently deservedly number one hotel on Trip Advisor in the area.

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