Local traders in Ilfracombe North Devon are up in arms that signs for its latest attraction, Damien Hirst’s Verity statue are directing visitors away from the High Street shopping district. A number of shopkeepers have been in touch with the Ilfracombe Town Council and have used social networking such as the authority’s Facebook page to question the yellow road signs. They are now demanding the signs be repositioned to direct visitors into the town centre. The locals believe the move would help boost trade for High Street shops.
Bowing to pressure, council representatives have promised that the signs would be reviewed.They originally appeared a few weeks ago when the 20m bronze sculpture was erected. It prompted international media coverage.
The work has divided this small community ever since planning permission for the 20m high statue, which is taller than the Angel of the North was granted. Objectors to the work have complained that it was: immoral, bizarre, obscene, offensive, disgusting, distasteful, embarrassing, grotesque, disrespectful, insensitive, inappropriate, a monstrosity, tasteless, ugly, vulgar and not in good taste and outrageous. Supporters called it; ‘thought provoking’, stirring and unique; a beautiful, strong, controversial icon with the power to transform the town’s future; beautiful, creative design of world class merit; controversy over design will generate positive publicity; the sculpture challenges our perceptions and creates a dialogue. But despite objections the statue was installed on 16 October. One of the locals described the work as ‘hideous’ adding “This is one for the scrap metal thieves”!
Damien Hirst was born in Bristol in 1965. He studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London from 1986 to 1989 and is considered by many to be the leading figure of the group known as “Young British Artists”. The YBAs are characterised by their entrepreneurial spirit, independence and their ability to manipulate the media.Hirst dominated the art scene in Britain during the 1990s. The Hirst exhibition at Tate Modern last summer was the most visited exhibition of 2012.