Hundreds of people gathered last night at Ilfrcombe harbour, to witness the official switch on of the newly-installed spot lights illuminating Damien Hirst’s controversial statue Verity. Local businesses donated more than £1,000 for a fireworks display, which took place after the official illumination.
Cheers went up as the pregnant, sword-wielding teenager, a modern allegory representing truth and justice was flooded with light. Verity’s inner-workings are exposed on one side and her unattractive features intact on the other. The giant 20 meter high medical model sculpture is taller than the Angel of the North. Hirst’s work explores the uncertainty at the core of human experience; love, life, death, loyalty and betrayal. His work has been exhibited widely,in Britain, the USA, Australia, and Europe. Work is included in many public and private collections.
The work has divided this small community like one of Hirst’s calfs in a vitrine. Objectors to the work of art 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 is now here to stay. One of the locals described the work as ‘Revolting’ adding “and now I’m going too have to look at this monstrosity every day”!
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. His early career was closely linked with the collector Charles Saatchi, however over the last few years Hirst has distanced himself from this association. Hirst exhibits with the White Cube Gallery in London and Gagosian internationally. His ‘Spot’ paintings were well received in a global exhibition last year and a large retrospective exhibition was held at the Tate Modern to coincide with the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.