Back in 2012, Damien Hirst decided to bless Ilfacrombe— a small coastal town in which he resided, located in England’s Devon county— with a gift, coming in the form of his piece “Verity.” The statue, described by Hirst as a “modern allegory of truth and justice,” is a 66-foot tall, bronze statue of a pregnant, nude woman.
What’s so striking is that her skin is stripped down on one side revealing her organs and unborn child, as she stands legs astride upon a pile of legal textbooks— something like those split models you used to use in biology class. So if you thought the folks in Ilfracombe were left jaded after the gift, then you can be sure that they’re not looking forward to what he’s got coming next.
In 2013, Hirst proposed a plan for a town— now begrudgingly being referred to as “Hirst-on-Sea” or “Hirstville” by critics and perturbed townsfolk— consisting of 750 homes and a bevy of other developments including a school, offices, and even a health center, all of which will be located right outside of Ilfracombe. Last Thursday, the North Devon Council gave Hirst’s development project the green light, citing the potential for a growth in population and increase in jobs. While this is quite the momentous endeavor, many about Ilfracombe and Devon remain on the fences about the project and what it entails for the small coastal town. Hirst’s development will pretty much take over the Devon County, which some feel in the end will be truly damaging:
As with Verity, whose prominent placement at the harbor entrance drew ire, Southern Extension is divisive. Some are calling it a vanity project that will disturb wildlife, destroy the aesthetics of the small town and put unneeded pressure on its road with an influx of rich Londoners (only 10 percent of the homes are designated as low income housing).
We can’t be too sure about how this will turn out; only time will truly tell. With an artist with a pedigree such as Hirst’s, dissension and contention will occur. His true message or purpose can only be realized when his projects reach fruition, and since being given the green light, it looks like it’ll be a steady march to Hirst’s next greatest creation.