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Committee crunch time for Hirst statue

17:49 04 September 2012

How Damien Hirst's statue Verity might look if placed on Ilfarcombe Pier.

How Damien Hirst's statue Verity might look if placed on Ilfarcombe Pier.

Archant

This week will see the 67 foot bronze Verity ‘stand before’ North Devon councillors to hear if she has a new home in Ilfracombe.

THE 67 foot bronze statue Verity could tower above Ilfracombe Pier within six weeks if she successfully passes through the council crucible tomorrow (Wednesday) and tomorrow.

At 10am today the planning committee will gather at the Civic Centre in Barnstaple to decide whether to grant permission for Damien Hirst’s artwork.

There is a recommendation for approval on the table and at tomorrow’s executive committee meeting councillors will be asked to agree to the 20 year loan of the statue plus a time table that would see her installed around October 17.

Verity – from the Latin for truth - is a bronze naked pregnant woman holding aloft a sword and bearing scales, mounted on a plinth of legal books.

She would stand some 10 inches higher than the celebrated Angel of the North and has stirred strong reaction in Ilfracombe, prompting 177 letters of support and 100 of objection to planners.

Mr Hirst has offered to loan the statue to North Devon Council, as well as install the artwork and its accompanying lighting in the centre of the pier, although the council would be liable for some of the ongoing maintenance and security costs.

In her report to councillors tomorrow, the council’s economic development manager Ellen Vernon will tell them: “This is a unique opportunity that provides a significant and distinct tourism offer to enable Ilfracombe to compete on a different level as a tourism destination.”

In conclusion she says the loan offer from Mr Hirst is ‘felt to be of immeasurable value to the community of Ilfracombe in terms of its regeneration value and potential to improve the town’s tourism offer. Costs associated with Verity are of sufficiently small scale to be felt to be reasonable for the regeneration benefit expected’.

Opinion has been strongly divided – while many say Verity would be a massive boost to the town, others feel it is offensive or inappropriate.

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