Damien Hurst: Verity. Ilfracombe
Damien Hurst’s Verity, is a 20-metre high bronze statue of a naked woman yielding a sword and staring out to sea in Ilfracombe, north Devon. Installed in October 2012 it is sited on the pier of the small harbour creating a Colossus for Ilfracombe. The sculpture is on a 20-year loan from the artist, who owns a restaurant in the coastal town and lives in the area. Standing at 20.25-metres high and weighing over 25-tonnes, Verity is described as a modern-day allegory for truth and justice. The figure’s stance is taken from Edgar Degas’s Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, c. 1881, referenced by Hirst in his earlier bronze, Virgin Mother, 2005. An anatomical cross-section of her head and body reveals the developing foetus in her stomach. The title is from Veritas, the Italian word for truth, whilst she holds the traditional symbols denoting Justice – a sword and scales – the scales are hidden and off balance behind her back whilst the sword is held confidently in her upstretched arm. Without the perfect equilibrium enacted by the scales, the sword becomes a dangerous instrument of power, rather than justice.