First impressions of Hirst’s Verity

Monday morning sightseers become some of the first to see Damien Hirst’s statue after it arrives in Ilfracombe.

THE arrival of Verity in Ilfracombe has already generated plenty of interest, with a steady stream of people taking a trip down to the pier to see her for themselves.

“First impression is ‘wow, really beautiful’,” said Lawrence Raybone, the owner of Ilfracombe Aquarium.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say I am completely into contemporary art, but I can really appreciate the spectacle here and I think it will be absolutely striking on the skyline.

“I have marvelled at the scale of the project and now it is reality I feel we are incredibly lucky as a town to have this kind of degree of interest and investment.”

The Mayor, Councillor Lynda Courtnadge, added: “I am delighted to see her arrive in Ilfracombe, although still a little undignified at the moment, but good to see so many people showing a lot interest in her.

“The detail of the foetus is amazing. It is a very good anatomical description of the inside of a womb and I think it looks absolutely marvellous. I can’t wait now for her to be up and standing in all her glory.”

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It was an interesting ‘home coming’ for Australian resident Valerie Norvill (formerly Duffin), who was born in Ilfracombe but had not been back to the town for 25 years.

“It is certainly a talking point,” she said.

“I don’t dislike it; I just can’t quite see whether this is the right place to put it, on the end of a pier. But people are going to come to the town to look at it. Hopefully they will come and spend money – they will either love it or hate it, but it doesn’t matter as long as they come and book.”

Tony Watts was another Ilfracombe resident keen to see the much talked about sculpture: “I would have preferred to see something slightly different, but I am not objecting to it and I am sure it will bring people into the town, which will bring money,” he said.

“It’s unusual – what more can you say about it other than it’s weird, but it will attract attention and more things like that to attract money to the town can only be good.”

Ilfracombe district councillor Mike Edmunds said after working on the project for some 18 months it came as no great surprise to see Verity ‘in the flesh’ but it was still exciting now it was happening.

“For many years we have relied on the natural beauty of Ilfracombe to encourage visitors, but that hasn’t been enough and we have seen large numbers of hotels close,” he said.

“We hope by going down the path of art we will be able to attract more visitors into the town.”

Mr Edmunds said both the town and district councils were still hoping to set up some kind of formal opening ceremony for Verity.

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